The Art of the 12” Single. And a Cry for Help.

Much of my vinyl attic “archive” (as I never refer to it) is made up of 12” singles. I think the first one I ever bought was Thompson Twins’ King For a Day picture disc, sadly no longer in my possession and probably thrown out when my sense of undergraduate post-modern irony was underdeveloped. Which makes me wonder what that Rick Astley one is still doing in there…? And that’s where my problem lies…


Looking back, I think I pursued the 12” single not for its aesthetic or historical significance but as a value-driven initiative. I mostly bought vinyl during my years of pocket money, Saturday jobs and student grants (remember those, kids?). If l liked a song enough surely a longer version would be better, wouldn’t it? And if it came with an acapella, dance, instrumental, bonus beats or at a push Aphex Twin remix all the better! And it usually didn’t cost much more.


The 1980’s and ’90’s were the days of (alleged) rampant UK chart rigging by the record companies. To gain as many sales and as high a placing as possible, most artists’ singles releases came out on a vast array of formats. It wasn’t unusual to see a range of 7”, 12”, 12” gatefold, 10”, cassingle, cd1, cd2, etc, etc litter the racks of your local HMV and many were often discounted to 99p if you found a local chart return shop. Every sale counted and they virtually gave them away. Well, if “you”were the record store then “they” (the record company) probably did.


So, as a fiscally challenged pop fan I was happy to pick up the “bigger faster stronger” versions and leave the 7” to the general public. 99p for a 7”! Loser! Why not buy the 17 minute version remixed by Andy Weatherall? Because in the case of Flowered Up’s Weekender it was bloody awful, that’s why.

Cry for Help

So I have a bit of a problem. In January I am “curating” (or as my friend quite rightly put it the other day – “It’s your turn to organise, it’s hardly Meltdown”) a 12” single night at my record club. It’s my own fault. I’ve been banging on about having a 12” single night for months and it’s been largely met with indifference or cries of “I don’t have many 12” singles”. So in my absence one evening I was nominated and I have subsequently risen to the challenge. But I don’t think my boxes of chart return rubbish are going to cut it with a bunch of people more used to listening to Mogwai, REM, Cpt Beefheart and The Cure (who had the odd decent 12” themselves, of course).

Don’t be mistaken. I do have a few diamonds in the rough. That decent FGTH Two Tribes remix? Check. William Orbit’s majestic Spatial Expansion mix of S-Express’ Hey Music Lover? Mais oui! Andy Weatherall’s mix of My Bloody Valentine’s Soon? Virtually worn it out. What I don’t have are the milestones. Blue Monday. Love to Love You Baby. White Lines (Don’t Do it). Chime…

So, over to you dear reader. What are your 12 inch single suggestions for my night in January? Shall I go with a theme or leave it to chance? Am I eBay bound or will the extended versions of The Reflex and The Living Daylights do the job just as well? And remember, if it ain’t on vinyl it won’t get played, so suggestions to pilfer those 12” CD compilations just won’t do it I’m afraid.


One thought on “The Art of the 12” Single. And a Cry for Help.

  1. Themes are nice but constricting – I just picked up a 12″ picture disc of REM’s “Nightswimming” but I think we’re on different continents so that doesn’t really help!
    The groups you mentioned (New Order, Duran Duran, The Cure) certainly would be the foundation of a good evening.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s