We all have pleasant memories of juke boxes, and at least once in our lives we have bought a few moments of joy by putting a coin into the slot of one of these magical music dispensers. But only a few of us have really stopped to wonder about how the juke box began - that machine standing silently at the back of the cafe where we dash in for a quick drink.
Over the last decade, juke box collecting has become more and more popular. Charlotte Rampling has one in her bedroom and another in the bathroom, John Lennon had one in his New York apartment, Dustin Hoffman's holds pride of place in his living room and other proud owners are Madonna, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney.
The frenetic activity and intellectual vigor of the early part of this century brought the technological development of the juke box to its peak and in America, at the end of the twenties, the Great Depression contributed to the popularity of this fascinating music machine. Night spots and speakeasies which could not afford an orchestra installed a juke box: all you needed was a coin to listen to a song.
This era also saw the birth in America of the concepts of industrial design and style, the production of a range of objects where quality in design was emphasized; top designers applied their creativity to the juke box too. Paul Fuller, in particular, created notable designs for Wurlitzer Co. combining music with light, color and movement. The cabinets were built in precious woods and illuminated phenolic resins with art deco friezes, which enticed the luxury nightclub patrons to put a coin in the slot to hear the latest hits.
The inspiration for this disc came during a meeting at the Turin Salone della Musica, where the music publisher Giulio Cesare Ricci met us, Elisabetta and Paolo De Angelis, owners of the Turin company OLD. We spent a pleasant evening together listening to music on our juke boxes, and then Giulio Cesare Ricci said: "Why don't we try recording directly from the juke box with the legendary Neumann U47 microphones?"
We loved the idea and it led to the presentation of this album. We want to pass on the feeling which sparked our enthusiasm for the juke box. Our hope is to infect many with our enthusiasm for this musical tradition, not only collectors and connoisseurs, so that even those who don't possess a Wurlitzer juke box can feel the infinite pleasure of putting a nickel in a slot and listening to a recording of days gone by...
Elisabetta e Paolo De Angelis
English translation: Jane Elizabeth Read