Monday, March 13, 2017

A Rather Mysterious Hunk of Tape (and a Few Bonuses)

I have, on several occasions, here and at WFMU late, lamented blog, offered up samples of a huge batch of tapes that I bought many years ago, featuring recordings of various productions, from TV and movies (mostly TV), which were in various stages of completeness. This has included everything from sound effects and foley reels, to soundstage recordings, to completed interview shows, and many other similar items.

Here's one of those tapes, one which is, I strongly suspect, one of those soundstage recordings, but other than that supposition, it remains pretty much a mystery to me, and I'd love to hear any explanations that those of you out there, perhaps with more experience in the field, could share.

What confuses me here is not the scene being recorded - it's pretty clearly a couple, who discussing a job offer the young woman has received, which will unexpectedly take her out of town. But what on earth is the deal with every single piece of dialogue being said twice, once through what sounds like a white-noise generator (even a line as simple as "oh" receives this treatment.

It's sort of hypnotically fascinating, and equally annoying, at the same time.

By the way, near the end (the last three minutes or so), the same tape goes into a completely different recording session (probably something which was being erased by the first segment heard. That segment does not contain the same weird repeated dialogue. It does, however, sound like a more interesting script - does one person refer to it as "Pot Party Poetry" at one point?

There are also a couple of breakdowns, and resulting cursing, for those of you who enjoy such things.

Download: Unknown - Raw Takes from an Unknown Production
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And now, a few little bonuses, which at least some of you may enjoy more than the feature attraction.

First, here are three commercials for something called "Domestic Pure Shortening", which seems to have been a Canadian product. The second of these three ads is VERY remarkable for the ridiculous amount of information (about a contest the company was running), contained in a rapid-fire one minute ad. It cracks me up.

Download: Unknown - Three Domestic Pure Shortening Ads
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And finally, two comical, quite over-the-top ads, one for Corina "Lark" Cigars, one for Aurelia "Biltmore" cigars (I'm guessing the two were related). Each tells the story of "Ralph Ridehome". These are heard on the tape, complete with studio intros. I accidentally labeled the entire file as being two Corina Lark ads.

Download: Unknown - Two 'Corina Lark' Ads
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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Some Unusual Music Beds

Today, from my vast collection of tapes which come from the world of advertising, is a set of musical productions, many of which seem to fall somewhere between advertising and things which were, perhaps "on the road" to becoming advertising. Most, but not all, are just about a minute long. Many feature variations on the same melody - perhaps someone out there recognizes it. The last few tapes also feature the repeats of a melody - a different one!

This is a 22 1/2 minute reel which came in a box simply labeled "Radio Commercials". Here is what you'll hear.

1.) A guitar led instrumental, which leads into some wordless vocals for its second half.

2.) A lengthy ad about the Buxton company, and it's leather products. This is a medley of songs, nearly all set to tunes belonging to the pop songs from the late 1960's. Given that every tune here was a hit by the end of 1969, my guess is that this is from around that period. But where would this have been used - it's about 3 1/2 minutes long! Was this from an industrial show?

3.) A jazzy instrumental.
4.) A flute-led, Latin tinged instrumental, on essentially the same tune as above.
5.) A laid-back guitar/piano solo number.
6.) A horn driven jazz-pop thang.
7.) A mid-tempo samba instrumental
8.) Another light Latin thing with xylophone.
9.) A rooty-toot 1920's pastiche.
10.) A small combo, Dixieland number. This one is nearly two minutes long.
11.) Another jazzy, trumpet led number.
12.) Ibid. This one, again, is almost two minutes long, and features the same melody.
13.) The same melody again, in yet another setting.
14. ) A Dixieland number, which seems to have been recorded off of a record, unless I'm mistaken.
15.) A "beautiful music" setting, led by trombone and guitar. This is also one of the longer ones.
16.) A similar "beautiful music" setting of the same tune as the previous track, and again, a long one.

Does anyone have any insight into what these, varied length music beds would have been for. Enough of them are far too long to be for commercials. And what is that lengthy Buxton thing doing mixed in?

Download: Unknown - An Unusual Set of Music Beds and An Ad
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As an extra treat, here's a short bit of tape from another reel. It's another music bed, in this case, a cute, hoedown flavored thing, a lot more fun, to my ears, than any of the 15 instrumental tracks above. After it's over, there is a separate little tag, which may or may not be for the same ad, and then, just a moment of whatever the hoedown music was erasing, something featuring a lovely vibraphone.


Download: Unknown - Unidentified Hoedown Music
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Friday, February 3, 2017

All About Lipstick!!!!!

Well, the tape box indicated that it contained a series of ads from the 1950's, presumably by an advertising firm. The writing was a bit confusing and it seemed to have been revised a few times, but there was definitely a list of products there.

I would love to have heard that tape. But I still got to hear something fun.

Because either the original tape had been stored in the wrong box, or, more likely, had been erased by a later project, because that's what was contained on the reel. And as mentioned, the material on the reel isn't bad at all. It's quite fun and interesting, in the way it gives us a glimpse of the way a product was marketed way back when.

The product is a new shade of lipstick, and this tape (missing the first minute or so of the presentation, unfortunately) is clearly the soundtrack to a promotional film, from Avon, The Company for Women (I drive by one of their manufacturing sites regularly, and see that slogan every time). I don't have a date on this, but given the other dates on the box, and the tone of this presentation, I would strongly suggest the 1950's.

What we have is a description of the making of a shade of makeup, from development to completed lipsticks.

As I mentioned, the beginning of the presentation is gone - for the first 70 seconds, you'll hear a short musical cue which was apparently recorded over the Avon material (in 1960, making it even more likely that the Avon material is from the '50's), and then a very short sound effect of some sort. When those end, the newer recordings end and what is left of the Avon material (about 12 1/2 minutes) begins.

Download: Avon - The Story of Lipstick!
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Monday, January 23, 2017

Old Time Media: MOR Jingles and A Newsman's Promo

Howdy,

So today I have two bits of tape from many, many years ago, both of them professional reels featuring a bit of "inside media" material. Neither needs a great deal of explanation, and both are fun in their own ways.

First up are a bunch of jingles for what I'm guessing was an MOR station, in Sioux Falls, SD, at some point, KRSD. Their slogan seems to have been "The Music Montage", and there's a moderate degree of variety between the various jingles, but all are solidly within the MOR style, with a few veering dangerously close to the vapidity of the Beautiful Music format.

Download: KRSD, Sioux Falls, SD - Music Montage Jingles
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At the other end of the media field - and on the other dial - were the newsmen of the day, and near the top of that field was CBS journalist Charles Collingworth. Here's a neat reel of tape (aside from the occasional piercing whine) in which Collingworth spends about eight minutes recording and re-recording parts of a few promos. These are the audio recordings from what were clearly filmed promos.

Download: Charles Collingworth Records a Promo
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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Party Like It's Almost 1968

Just 364 days ago, I wrote a post about, and included the sounds from, a tape recording of the countdown of the hits of the year, for 1968, recorded by someone in Columbus, Ohio, from radio station WCOL, AM 1230, on December 31st, 1968 and into January 1st, 1969. That post can be found here!

Today, here's another tape from that same collection, and again, just in time for you to enjoy while you count down to 2017. In this case, it's the top 50 hits, again from WCOL, as heard on December 31st, 1967 and into January 1st, 1968.

As with the 1968 recording, you will hear some selective editing. This means that unfortunately, much of the DJ chatter and almost all evidence of commercials have been cut out. The person recording the show also had far different tastes than me in at least some areas, as he or she kept some all time lameness-in-song, while fading out/skipping recording some really good stuff. But perhaps he or she already had those songs on another tape. There is also the unfortunately habit of the DJ of playing with a squeaky toy and talking over the songs.

Information about the individual charts from this station (and many other stations) can be found in this marvelous spot. I have copied the year-end survey (for the show you're hearing) below, but you can find virtually every survey from 1967, and many many others, from WCOL, at that site, and that's where some of my information in the paragraphs below comes from.

As with the previously shared tape, there are some interesting differences between this station's local hit ranking and the national charts. The number one song is not a surprise - it was also the number one hit on Billboard's Hot 100 that year. But how did "Hello Goodbye" - a record released in mid-November of that year - make the top 50 for the year, and "Let it Out" by the Hombres, which was a two-week number one hit on the station, earlier that year, miss the countdown entirely.

Otherwise, there aren't as many left-field items on this list as there were on the 1968 list. The standouts for me are the cover version of "King of a Hush" by Gary and the Hornets, which did not chart on Billboard's Hot 100, and the # 11 song, "Thousand Devils" by Fifth Order, a group which never made the Billboard hot 100 at all. (Unfortunately, our taper friend chose to fade and cut the latter song.)

Sit back with family and friends, some New Year's Eve snacks, and whatever you choose to drink, and pretend it's 1967, going on 1968. Save me some Lard and Scrapple from Teeters!

Download: WCOL, Columbus, Ohio: The Top Hits of 1967
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Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas in Northern New England, 1961

Here's a Christmas treat for everyone. This tape, and another one from the same family, came up for sale recently on ebay. Helpfully, there were scans of the back of the tape boxes, so I knew that, if the tapes matched the boxes, there was something pretty special on these reels. I was very happy to win that auction. And the tapes and boxes did match, and they are special.
 
The other tape (the one I'm not sharing today) is fun, and probably worth sharing here some day. But the one marked "Christmas, 1961", is quite a joy. A mishmash, to be sure, and at a few moments borderline unlistenable, but for most of the tape, including those hard-to-listen-to segments, it's still pure magic. We are dropping in on a family, or perhaps a family and some friends, on a very special day. These are happy, celebratory people, who are enjoying being together and making good use of what was apparently a brand new tape recorder.
 
I have identified this tape as being from northern New England - I'm guessing Maine, or, possibly, New Hampshire. I'm not that good with accents, but I think I recognize the ones heard here. More to the point, there are more than a half-dozen references to the classic "Bert & I" series of comedy albums. While these did become fairly well known in later years, across the country (I own three or four of them), in 1961, they were definitely a regional phenomenon, and a very small region at that. Anyone who was able to quote "Bert & I" routines in 1961 was from that immediate area - again, most likely Maine. There may be other clues here for you to pick out, as well.
 
The fact that the family members also trade off telling jokes and stories which they seem to find uproariously funny - but which seem like nearly pointless anecdotes to me - also fits into my understanding of the sense of humor which dominates in that area.
 
Also heard periodically on this tape are snippets of current and recent hit songs off the radio.
 
There is also a LOT of music heard here, and in a way, this sort of mystifies me. There is enough amateur-level guitar and piano playing here to indicate that some members of this group knew their way around music. And yet, when most of them sing, they seem nearly tone deaf - the rendition of Jingle Bells is virtually tuneless in places. What's more, how does one learn to play the guitar half-decently, but not know when it is painfully out of tune. And finally, does the Jew's Harp actually qualify as an instrument at all? I've heard it used well, in very limited and well placed arrangements, but here, it dominates a few otherwise pretty sweet homespun amateur musical performances, rendering them into the "unlistenable" moments I mentioned earlier.
 
I've written a lot here, without actually specifying very much. That was on purpose. I'll let you discover the sweet moments and enthusiastic fun of this tape for yourself.
 
 
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A note about the order of the sides here. A scan of the tape box is seen, below, indicating what is on each side. I would put money on it that the sides, as listed there, are reversed. The side indicated there as "# 2", is the side that starts with microphone tests and references to the new machine. That side ends with references to a recent hit comedy record by Bill Dana ("The Astronaut - Jose Jimenez"), and more references continue (followed by the record itself) at the start of the side described on the box as "# 1". That side also ends with a goodbye. That seems clear enough to me.  
  

Monday, December 5, 2016

FLY THIS POST TO CUBA! NOW!

With the death of Fidel Castro, I thought it would a perfect moment to bring out this tape, which dates to the height of the "Take This Plane to Cuba!" string of hijackings.

It's a recording of an NBC news special, from 8/3/61. On that date, such a hijacking was foiled, as you'll hear in the report. They then cover other recent episodes in this trend. The show is anchored by the legendary Edwin Newman.

Just a neat little piece of history, captured by a dedicated audio collector, and now offered up by another such collector, shared with anyone who'd like to hear it.

Download: NBC News Special On Hijackings, 1961
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