For the last couple of years I had been thinking of buying a portable turntable but had never quite managed to press the buy button. This was partly because of the price .v. the variable reviews and partly because I wondered how much I would use it – I haven’t been an avid record fair visitor to date and to use a portable at a charity shop or car boot just doesn’t seem right, or practical. But I have been thinking lately that my buying pattern may start moving more towards quality than quantity and so record fairs maybe the way to go as far as physical digging is concerned. So when this one (an ION LP2Go) came up at only £30 including postage (almost half price) I couldn’t resist.
Last weekend it had its first outing at the local small R&R slanted record fair. In truth I wasn’t looking to spend much money as quite a few records have already dropped through the letterbox this last few weeks, but I looked on this outing as an exercise in getting familiar with the ION. I always dig for soul, but at this fair there is very little I haven’t seen before. I may have seen the records before but I hadn’t heard them. So my new toy allowed me to run through the rest of the vaguely interesting ones – and in most cases discount them for good.
At one point there were four or five of us all in a line sat down hunched over our portables with a stack of records in front of us. The portables were all shapes and sizes. Design wise the ION is based on the original classic of its type - the Soundburger. I thought it was funny - there I was a somewhat ageing has been with my new piece of kit and next to me was a young gun with his girlfriend, and what looked like an original Soundburger. His girlfriend seemed to be looking at me, and my ION, quite a bit. I guessed she was inwardly scoffing at my uncool, and admittedly in comparison somewhat clunky looking, bit of hardware. I did notice though that after an initial spin the Soundburger wasn’t getting a lot of use. Showing its age and reliability problems creeping in maybe. I know, that’s a comment that can also easily apply to me! But as far as the portables were concerned perhaps I could at least have the last laugh.
With the Soul cheapie bins finally exhausted this portable is now going to allow me to start exploring some of the other records for sale at this fair i.e. R&R, early R&B especially, and even maybe some Hillbilly! I am no expert in these genres so in the past taking a punt was not really an option but now I’m all tooled up!
This bit of technology may turn out to be a costly purchase: on the one hand it will stop me buying average or worn records, but on the other hand it has effectively opened up whole vistas of old records in new (to me) genres. I made a brief start on a box of cheapie early R&B and was happy with this 1961 release from the, at that time, prolific Hank Ballard & The Midnighters. This record I will forever remember as the first one ‘found’ with the help of my portable turntable. For that reason I think I may call it Hank.
And to my ears the even better B side….