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Boney M

Juke Box

On one occasion at college I was talking shop with a few of my colleagues who were apprenticed at MHG (Music Hire Group) working on juke boxes, they were intrigued that intruder alarms used seven inch 45rpm singles and refused to believe this was a fact, a few weeks later I took a disc to college and even though it was there in hand, the MHG guys refused to believe I had not mocked the record up.

The records did not look like typical vinyl pressings, they were made from aluminium coated in a black polymer and were ‘hot cut’ individually, a blank would be installed into a machine called a lathe, the process was started and an operator read a script into a microphone, typically “Police, Police, Police this is an automated alarm reporting from the premises of XXXXX, then repeat the message for five minutes until the lathe stopped.

We had no means of playing the disk at college, so at lunchtime, we called into both HMV and Virgin record stores to request they play the disc for us to listen to, (at this time they had booths where you could request this service for vinyl records so you could listen before buying,) however we could not persuade either shop to play the disc for us. 

The next option was to call into an antique shop with a ‘His Master's Voice’ clockwork hand wound horn type player circa 1910 in the window, the owner was very sceptical about our request and just showed us the door. 

All attempts to play the record in our lunch hour had failed, so I gave one of the MHG guys the disc, saying here, take it home and play it then. 

A few weeks later I asked if they had listened to the disc and they were all in agreement that the disc was genuine and did include a message for the emergency operator reporting a break in. I asked for the disc back, they all looked sheepish and said they had not realised I would need it back, I advised them that the disc had privileged information contained on it and was not supposed to leave the company, they then said it could not be returned as they had installed it into a jukebox in a busy pub in Otley under the title Boney M, Rivers of Babylon.

I hated Boney M’s music so was delighted to hear they had chosen this track to substitute, it must have caused a stir many times when this record was selected.