LAS VEGAS was the original gangsters’ paradise during its heyday between about 1950 and 1980. Not only were the hotels and casinos Mob concerns, but even gift shops were by run by the likes of Tony ‘The Ant’ Spilotro, the Chicago Outfit’s enforcer during the 1970s.
Imagine the possible life history of a single US dollar note of those times, the kind of goods and services it bought, and the hungry, grabbing hands it passed through. Seemingly inocuous souvenir EPs, like the ones featured here, would likely have provided a percentage to someone best known by their nickname.
The disc inside the sleeve pictured immediately below was made of red vinyl, with the sleeve doubling up as a mailing envelope so you could post it to your friends and family back home. It’s a great idea for a souvenir.
The second EP, which dates from around the same times, lists more venues on the cover than seems possible to cram onto the disc itself. The back cover blurb promises that you’ll hear the Keno lottery numbers being called and ‘the sound of the jackpots crashing and spilling out, and the bets being called at the various tables’.
Sound, of course, is integral to the immersive, euphoric and disorienting experience which casinos create. As long as you can hear the clatter of a jackpot being paid out somewhere then there’s hope – or so you’re supposed to believe. Not featured on either disc are the kind of top-rank entertainers you’d have got to see and hear for just the price of a two-drink minimum charge: Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, or Elvis Presley performing at the New Frontier when he was just 21.
Perhaps our own fleshpots of Blackpool and Margate produced their own more homely equivalents of these intriguing pieces of vinyl ephemera.