Tag Archives: garrard sp25

March 10th 1975

“Got Pioneer PL12D”

It was a mere 18 months earlier when I bought my first proper hi-fi system, containing the Garrard SP25 MkII record deck.

Seems as if in the interim I had been eagerly reading all those hi-fi magazines I used to buy and had my head swayed by the reviews of this Pioneer PL12D? An upgrade was in order!

It really was a beautiful piece of kit. Counterbalance weight on the back of the arm, open-form headshell, anti-skipping adjustment, nice finish and easy to use.

I chose well. Very well indeed. I may well have worked through a handful of cartridges and/or styli, but this record deck lasted years, decades even, and was still in use right up until I sold my home and gave away many of its contents to friends before moving to the USA.

I’d be lying if I said I haven’t looked for another one on eBay to regain a little bit of my youth.


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January 13th 1974

“Deck went extremely wrong – fixed it+ cured Rumble & scratchy sound”

Weirdly, I do remember this…

The deck started making every record played on it sound as if it had underlying african rhythms. Which is fine if you’re David Byrne, but no good if you’re a 16-year-old teenager listening to the Edgar Broughton Band or Tonto’s Expanding Headband.

I lifted up the rubber mat, removed the platter and discovered that a ‘u-clip’ had come free from one of the (I believe) two flywheels underneath. A few moments spent carefully trying to pry the thing back on gave me the necessary solution.

Scary what I CAN remember isn’t it?

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October 29th/30th/31st 1973

• “half-term – OFF TO LONDON TO GET HI-FI (I hope)”
• “Got a crappy amp – Dad has to take it back”
• “Got a new amp – Sounds BRILLIANT!”

October 29th’s entry was written in advance.

I remember some of this story. Dad & I drove to some non-descript warehouse on an industrial estate somewhere near the Wembley area of London. I have no doubt that this place was chosen from an ad placed in one of the many hi-fi mags I had been reading.

For all I know now, it may well as have been “Dodgy Dave’s Stereo Emporium”, the stock having fallen off the back of a lorry somewhere.

I bought – under Dad’s watchful eye but with my OWN money (hence the £35 withdrawal from savings) – The Alba HOUS208 Amplifier mentioned a few diary entries ago, the much-coveted Garrard SP25 Mk II Record Deck (with a similarly-prized Goldring G800 cartridge) and a pair of Wharfedale Denton speakers.

There is no reference to the Alba amp anywhere online (at least that I can find), but here’s a pic of the record deck

and here’s one of the shelf speakers…

I was so VERY excited this day, I can remember that.

However, when we got back home and I unpacked everything, my excitement turned to frustration as the discovery was made that the amp I’d bought was a duffer. I remember my Dad & I tried everything we could to try and make it work, but all to no avail.

The next day my Dad, bless him, used a free British Rail pass and traveled back up to – and across – London with this amp tucked awkwardly under his arm, found the warehouse and was able to quite easily swap the unit over. He then had to travel back on the tube to Waterloo, back down to Eastleigh… obviously hoping all the time that the replacement was not in the same faulty condition. A journey that took him the best part of a full day.

Frustration was then replaced by joy and relief when the new amp performed flawlessly under – what was doubtless – ‘rigourous testing’ using sundry ELP, Deep Purple and Hawkwind albums.

My first proper stereo!!!


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May 9th 1973

“Caught F.Oak coach home illegally. Borrd Billion Dollar Babies off of Jackie S. Went up Gra’s in the evng. saw his new addition – Garrard SP25 III (G800).  Borrowd Gemini Suite & Book of Tailisyn, lent him Focus 3,”

Good lord, there’s so much going on – and to write about – in today’s diary entry…

Let’s tackle it in order shall we?

By a matter of living just a few hundred yards outside a government-prescribed zone – I am not making this up – I was denied the opportunity of catching a scheduled coach home from school each day. Instead – and as if to somehow verify my ‘prolitariat’ status – I was forced to wait with the hoi-polloi for a regular bus service each day.

By contrast, friend who lived just a few blocks away from me in  , were ferried home in a clean air-conditioned coach. Bastards.

However, every so often I either just sneaked onto the coach (prepared to claim ‘ignorance’ if I was caught out) or was able to borrow somebody’s coach pass. (In those days, I.D.’s rarely came included photos). Seems as if today was one of those days.

Alice Cooper’s “Billion Dollar Babies” is not an album that has really sat with me over the ensuing years.

Indeed, it only has 4 tracks that I continue to adore.

The title track, Billion Dollar Babies – duet between Alice and Donovan – sounds far more ethereal on record than it does in this live performance, but – like a lot of Alice’s stuff – is guitar-riff laden.

No More Mr Nice Guy” is a Stones-esque basic rocker which proves that Alice is not adept at maintaining a falsetto voice.

Hello, Hooray” sounds like it may have been recorded for his School’s Out album sharing lots of the same style and feel – maybe no accident it is the opener?

Best of them all, however, and only marginally below “School’s Out” as my favourite Alice track ever, is “Elected“. Written, probably, as some kind of rock’n’roll response to the whole Nixon/Watergate debacle, it simply screams along with utter hairbrush in mirror mime-ability…. not that I am saying I ever….. OK, yes I admit it. (It would be years until I caught that promo video for the song, and I remember laughing so hard the first time I saw the chimpanzee walk in with the wheelbarrow full of money)

Like so many albums of the era however, it is my memories of the sleeve that has remained with me the longest. The fold out cover was designed to look like a snakeskin billfold wallet – it even had rounded-off corners. When you open the cover out there was a loose 12″x24” “billion dollar bill” clipped inside  that featured a photo of the band and irreverent cartoons.

I’ll say it again – the advent of Compact Disc RUINED album artwork.

The Garrard SP25 Mk IIIwas – in 1973 – my hi-fi Holy Grail.

Especially when twinned with a Goldring G800 stylus. The exact package friend Graham apparently managed to acquire. Bastard.

More about this piece of kit when – as must happen somewhen – my diary tells me I bought my own.

I have talked about Deep Purple’s atrocious “Book of Taliesyn” before – indeed 26 years later I can’t imagine exactly why I would have borrowed it again? – but this is first mention of Purple’s equally dodgy “Gemini Suite”

So dodgy in fact that “Gemini Suite” has not flitted across my personal radar AT ALL in the interim years… years which include over 22 years of actually working in the music industry, and being asked for stuff!

I’ll admit I had to look the album up online to nudge any kind of even vague memory about it. Consequently, my research *ahem* ‘reminded me’ it was a piece of Jon Lord-composed music (performed by Deep Purple and an orchestra) which was commissioned by the BBC for a TV show highlighting the association between rock music and traditional classical material.

Yes, that sounds like it was some kind of train wreck. Finding this excerpt online however, suggest a train wreck may have sounded better?!

Somewhen in the past few months, it would appear that I bought Focus’ “Focus 3” album, a rambling double concept album. I threatened to buy it back in January, but opted for “Moving Waves” instead.

How weird that my diary never made mention of its subsequent purchase?

So as to save this post from falling off the edge of the planet due its length, please expect an incoming EFA70’sTRO  “aside’ to talk about it.

For which I duly apologise in advance.

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February 22nd 1973

“Lost to Sned at table tennis 21-9, 21-10, 21-13” / “Dun me leg in again” / “Got report – good!!! (Phew)!” / “Got 10p for working 5 mins over Sperrins” / “Bort hi-fi mag!”

I am getting better at table tennis aren’t I? You can visibly see the improvement in my losing streak today!

What exactly did I do to my leg? Again?

I would guess that the appearance of a ‘school report’ sends fear into the heart of most any schoolkid, this one included. I was going to post an example of my own report, but it would appear that my dad is still holding onto them 4000 miles away. It looks, however, as if I squeaked past this particular one, evidenced by the “phew!

I wonder what I did for 5 minutes over at Sperrins (actually Sperrings) – the local 7-11 convenience store – for that massive 10p pay?

The purchase of that hi-fi mag – doubtless helped by the earned 10p – was what could have sent me into a few years of strange fascination for all things ‘hi-fi’, the result of which will doubtless be discussed further in future diary entries.

In the meantime, shown on the right is a Garrard SP25 record deck, doubtless already on my 15-year-old list of “holy grails”

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