Look at this thing. It's so beautiful. We have it right here, you can come and see it whenever you like. The photo doesn't do it justice. Let me tell you about it:
It was probably made in the late eighties, early nineties most likely. We first met each other in 2010 when I took over a music venue in Swindon. It had been unloved for many years and was being used as prop, basically, alongside a piano screwed halfway up a wall at a jaunty angle, ho ho ho. It hadn't been used by the previous owners because the noise it produced was wretched, ear splitting and barely recognisable as music. Most of the light bulbs were out. The decoration on the front lattice was invisible because of decades worth of crisp packets, fag packets and beer mats stuffed inside and coated over time with dust and tar. There were even a few coins when I reached the bottom, so I was quids in right off the bat.
I guess nobody had tried to make use of it in the recent past because there were some burnt CDs in there, but none from this century. They'd printed the CD covers themselves on a steam-powered printer. The album titles were barely readable because each pixel was a half inch square. I recall Vengaboys (1999), the Rage Against the Machine album with the self-immolating monk (1992), and Madonna's Ray of Light (1998). The only decent album in there was RATM and I like them but c'mon, two or three songs is plenty - a whole album for a pub jukebox is somewhat overkill, he said, ignoring the presence of a Vengaboys album, for God's sake. Although I suppose the best way to enjoy Vengaboys is to play it through a jukebox that's so unloved and tired it skips half the songs, and the other half comes out of a sound system so broken that the feedback and shrieking tones produced actually improves the tracks. The other CDs were equally horrendous and disposed of as soon as possible.
Luckily for me, the manufacturers, Sound Leisure, are still going strong and I was able to order replacement parts and get advice to get the jukebox up and running again. It was a true labour of love. Slow and methodical, one bit at a time over a few weeks. It finally sounded great.
I set it on freeplay and filled it up with new music - a combination of local bands; small to medium touring bands: Don Broco, Little Fish, Reel Big Fish, Twisted Wheel (cheeky buggers cancelled on me twice, not a fan); and best of albums for international bands that I may have had upcoming tribute gigs happening at my venue. So it wasn't a jukebox in the truest sense, it was more an ego stroke for the local bands (who were great, actually) and subtle marketing for future gigs.
After Swindon the jukebox rejoined me in London to be a proper pub jukebox again. I tried to be current and put in a handful of albums from artists like Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and Royal Blood and they went down like a lead balloon. You've gotta stick to the classics when it comes to jukeboxes.
Now it's at the Copper Room, the tech is still old, slow and prone to the occasional glitch. Even so, I reckon a curated choice of albums is far superior to the internet-connected tablet-inside-an-enormous-gaudy-box jukeboxes some places have now, where you're either paralysed by choice or suffering while one person puts on Bieber and another chooses obscure sitar music. However, there are problems inherent with old technology:
CDs will skip every so often.
The selected tracks are played in the order they appear in the carousel [pictured], not in the order you selected them.
It's a real mission to change more than one or two albums at a time.
Nobody remembers how to use these jukeboxes any more!
I wanted to copy/paste the albums (not tracks) we've got on the jukebox but I can't find the list anywhere. Oh God, give me a few minutes and I'll write it out again. It's so late at night. But that's it after that, blog post is over. Bye!
100 Counting Crows Films About Ghosts
101 Pink Floyd A Foot in The Door, Best of
102 Supergrass Is 10, Best of 94-04
103 Elton John Rocket Man, Definitive Hits
104 The Stranglers Greatest Hits 77-90
105 The Jam Very Best of
106 U2 U218 Singles
107 Ramones Greatest Hits
108 The Smiths The Sound of
109 Radiohead Best of
110 Bon Jovi Greatest Hits
111 Bee Gees Their Greatest Hits
112 Simon & Garfunkel The Definitive
113 Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler Private Investigations, Best of
114 Blur Best of
115 The Police Greatest Hits
116 Johnny Cash Best of
117 Bruce Springsteen Greatest Hits
118 Green Day International Superhits!
119 The Doors Very Best of
120 The Verve This Is Music - Singles 92-98
121 Sex Pistols Never Mind The Bollocks
122 The Blues Brothers Music from the Soundtrack
123 Thin Lizzy Waiting for an Alibi, The Collection
124 Meat Loaf Hits Out of Hell
125 Robbie Williams Greatest Hits
126 Oasis Best of
127 Status Quo Rockin’ All Over The World
128 Guns N Roses Greatest Hits
129 Red Hot Chili Peppers Greatest Hits
130 Motorhead Aces up My Sleeve
131 Iron Maiden Somewhere Back in Time, Best of 80-89
132 Black Sabbath The Collection
133 AC/DC Back in Black
134 Metallica Metallica
135 Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin
136 Michael Jackson Number Ones
137 The Kinks You Really Got Me, Best of
138 The Rolling Stones Jump Back, Best of
139 Queen Greatest Hits
140 The Prodigy Their Law, The Singles 90-05
141 Nirvana Nevermind
142 Pearl Jam Ten
143 Madness Ultimate Madness
144 The Beach Boys Very Best of
145 Bob Dylan The Blonde Collection
146 Genesis Turn It On Again
147 T-Rex Get It On
148 The Beatles Mix
149 The Who Then and Now 64-07
150 Abba Gold
151 The Beat & The Specials
152 Eric Clapton Clapton Chronicles, Best of
153 Fire The Jimi Hendrix Collection
154 Lou Reed Transformer
155 Aerosmith Big Ones
156 David Bowie Best of Bowie, CD 1
157 Barry White The Collection
158 Elvis Number 1 Hits
159 The Killers Hot Fuss
160 Foo Fighters Greatest Hits
161 The Commitments
162-169 Various Artists: Levellers, Pulp, Pogues, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, The Clash, Def Leppard etc. And of course RATM Killing in the Name. I’ve had it pointed out to me that there's no KISS on the jukebox, so I'll be rectifying that in the future.