how to load a juke-box

How to load a juke-box. Sounds easy doesn't it? If you are lucky enough to have recently acquired a juke-box, or have always dreamed of owning one, then you might think that all you've got to do is load up with your favourite 50 or 100 singles and you're ready to go, right?

Wrong. I'm afraid it is not quite as simple as that. Choosing records for your juke-box requires careful consideration as there are pitfalls for the unwary. So, to avoid disappointment, you may find the following short guide useful.

To start with, you'll probably be tempted to include certain "pop classics". Records like "When a Man Loves a Woman", "Layla" and "Alright Now" spring to mind. But think again. You have only got to switch on the telly these days and you are more than likely to hear one of these tunes accompanying some commercial or other. The trouble with a lot of these classics is that they are heard so often there is a danger of overkill. Anyone who already owns a juke-box will tell you it is hard to resist pushing the buttons every time you walk past. By loading too many favourites in the rack you risk having too rich a mixture. Play a record too many times and you might get sick of it for ever. Better to have a combination of favourites and also-rans which you may not play all the time, but which you never tire of either. Another point to remember is that some records are more suited to juke-boxes than others, in the same way that some records work at parties while others don't. Take Rod Stewart, for example. He has a great juke-box voice. "Maggie May", yes, but "Do You Think I'm Sexy?", probably not. Records like "Maggie May", of course, have the advantage of being double A-sides, so you can flip over to the equally good "Reason to Believe", if the mood takes you. Which leads me to my third point: don't forget the B-sides. A lot of people can't be bothered to turn records over to see what is on the other side, but when you've got a juke-box the machine does it for you. It is therefore, easy to re-discover all those brilliant B-sides you'd forgotten all about. The Beatles and Rolling Stones were well-known for the quality of their B-sides, but more recent bands have produced similar efforts. I can think of flipsides from The Jam and The Beat to Rancid and Weezer, which easily match the A-side. So, have a good look through your pile of 7-inch singles and see what you've got. Songs which were deliberately put out as singles usually work best on juke-boxes, but nowadays more and more album tracks are being released as singles. Some sound good in a juke-box, and if you go to the right shops you can even find singles (imports usually) by bands with "album-only" reputations, such as Led Zeppelin and Pearl Jam.

All this talk of singles only applies to the traditional vinyl disc juke-boxes, of course. Lately, a revolution has occurred with the invention of the CD Juke-box. According to David Pedder, who runs a company called Juke-box Services in Teddington, the most popular juke-box these days is the CD playing Wurlitzer 1015, retailing at pounds 4,750. Don't be alarmed by this figure. There is a huge range of prices, and you can get hold of a juke-box for anything between pounds 500 and pounds 10,000. It depends what you want. I prefer the traditional ones because you can see the mechanism going round inside. The problem is that new 7-inch singles are getting more and more scarce. The latest Beatles hit is available on 7-inch, and Oasis still issue some of theirs in the same format. But, generally, it is only independent bands who still turn out songs on vinyl.

So what's the most popular juke-box record? David Pedder says the one he comes across most often is "Unchained Melody" by The Righteous Brothers. But things change don't they. In 1996 it could easily be "Wonderwall" by The Mike Flowers Pops.

That's entertainment.

MAGNUS MILLS

Juke-box Services, 31 Wick Road, Teddington (0181-943 1700)

Collectors' Record Centres (01483 568100)

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