Saturday, October 10, 2009

DBTL 33 1/3: You Spin Me Right Round

This is the latest installment in the Drowned Baby Timeline, an alternate history where Adolf Hitler drowned at birth and where World War II never took place. The largest state in Central Europe is the Polish Commonwealth, which includes the historical Second Polish Republic, eastern Germany, and the former Soviet republics of Byelorussia and Ukraine. Following victory in the Second Soviet War of 1944 - 45, the Commonwealth is experiencing a cultural renaissance, typified by a fast-paced mix of klezmer and jazz called klezmerol . . .

Warsaw, Polish Devo, Polish Commonwealth
23 June 1946

"That's got to be the second largest bagel I've ever seen," said Shlomo Kaminsky.

"A bit overdone as well," added Ringo Gold.

"Very funny," said Leonid, their manager. His heavy eyebrows drew together as he glared at the musicians and shook the vinyl disk at them. "Mr. Banchek himself explained it all to me. This is a type of record that's just been developed by the Columbia Record Company in America. The disk rotates at a speed of thirty-three and a third revolutions per minute, so that up to thirty minutes of sound can be recorded on each side. Mr Banchek has licensed the technology from Columbia, and he wants the Vontzim to record Europe's first long-playing record."

"But Leo," said Herschel Grynszpan, "we haven't got any songs that are thirty minutes long."

Leonid, annoyed at being called Leo, said, "So you'll play lots of songs. It'll be just like going to a Vontzim concert. People will love it."

"And you know," Shlomo pointed out, "the reason all our songs are so short is so they'll fit on the 78 rpm records. You know that version of 'Free as a Bird' we close our shows with, the one where we jam for ten minutes after the last verse? We'll be able to put that on the record."

"Hey, that's right," Leon Svirsky said with sudden enthusiasm. "We could even record 'In the Garden of Eden'!"

Leon's bandmates groaned in unison. Leon's endless, formless improvisational piece had become a running gag among the other three. Shlomo could easily see Leon expanding the song to take up a whole thirty-minute record side. He also had an uneasy feeling that Leon would not let go of the idea until he had made it happen. Shlomo feared for the future of the recorded music industry.

Hoping to distract Leon for the time being, Shlomo said, "All right, Leonid, you've talked us into it. When do you want to start recording?"

"After we get back from our Baltic tour next month," said the manager. "Mr. Banchek wants you to do the recordings in his studio in Odessa. He figures you're going to need at least a week in the studio to record enough music. Then we can time the record's release to coincide with your arena tour in August. Not only that, Mr. Banchek says that Columbia might even release the record in America to coincide with your tour there in the fall."

That made Shlomo and the others sit up and take notice! America was still the entertainment Mecca of the world; no performer could truly say he had made the big time until he had won an audience in America.

"Where are we going, boys?" Shlomo called out.

"To the top!" the others chorused.

"Which top?" he demanded.

"The BIG top!"

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