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Rant Of The Day THIS RANT 03/09/96

Rant Of The Day is where I get to mouth off about whatever I feel like for however long I like. Theoretically, I'll update my whinge/opinion piece every weekday; in practice, maybe not so often.

Random thoughts on Culture Club promo singles

Record companies are ceaselessly creative in their efforts to come up with new formats with which to convince the hapless music fan to part with money. During one of my periodic second-hand record buying binges yesterday, I picked up the Culture Club 5" vinyl single you see before you. 'Move Away' was Ver Club's last really major hit, and came from their 1986 album From Luxury To Heartache (produced by Arif Mardin, unlike their first three titles, which were helmed by Steve Levine of the infamous Do Not Erase Productions).

There are a few unusual things about this single, aside from the fact that it is on 5" vinyl. One of the most obvious is that even though the band's career needed a major shot in the arm at this point, the picture on the disc is not of Boy George but of drummer Jon Moss (admittedly the next closest thing to George). According to George's very readable autobiography Take It Like A Man, the rest of the band considered it a major victory when all four of them got a full-size photo on the cover of the Heartache album, so I guess internal politics may well have been important. (The single, incidentally, has a mini-booklet in the sleeve with an individual portrait of each member.)

Also concealed inside the sleeve is a sticker originally from the cover. Half of this is devoted to stating the obvious: "This is a 5" limited edition picture disc". The other half contains an admission of startling honest from any record company: "Optimum sound quality not guaranteed". And this despite the fact that it plays at 33 1/3rpm, normally considered to produce better sound than a 45! Still, when you've got to cram the whole track into about half a centimetre to avoid the automatic pickup on your turntable, I guess sound quality might be sacrificed. (I'm not about to play the thing to find out -- both the tracks on it are readily available elsewhere, and I wouldn't want to scratch Mr Moss's face, now would I? We'll leave that to George as well.)

I've never seen another five inch vinyl single in my travels, but if someone had the kit to manufacture them there must be a few about. In 1986, there weren't many CD singles about, and a lot that were about were in the now virtually defunct three-inch format, so where exactly the idea came from we may never know, although the notion of ripping off/being inspired by the CD concept must have been floating around somewhere.


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