Friday, May 31, 2024

Bob Hope's Murder, A 75 Year Old Mix Tape, A Lot More Jack Eigen, The Irish in America, 1970's Folkies, Cheesiness from a Night Club and "Whatever Happened"?

Okay. so I have a bit more time today to do a little housekeeping. 

First, I would like to direct you to the posting of the four hours of Gary Owens, where a commenter named Kyle has written a few comments in which he links to some interesting audio that he owns, on YouTube. 

Second, thanks to the anonymous poster who let me know I'd failed to upload the scan of the sheet from the Asian television recording. I attached it, and it's there now. Thanks to another anonymous poster regarding the same scan, who told me that the writing refers to a Japanese historical drama, Shishi no Jidai, which aired in 1980. That's almost certainly the part of the tape I didn't share, and which came after what was pretty clearly some sort of variety show. 

And finally, thanks to MackdaddyG for some kind words of great support, and to Eric Carlson, who wrote, regarding the short tape of Erskine Hawkins (in a couple of separate comments):

The beginning of the Erskine Hawkins tape is a talk with singer and pianist Joe Boatner who arranged the song Amour Secret with the Royal Ink Spots released on the Montreal based Rusticana label in 1961. When the Saints was the flip side of Amour Secret also arranged by Joe Boatner.

For only $5 per person you could "ring in the New Year" of 1962 at the Imperial Dining Room of the Thruway Motel in Albany, New York, with both Erskine Hawkins and His Orchestra and The Ink Spots with Joe Bottner as spelled in the advertisement in the December 17, 1961, Albany Times-Union.

Really, thanks to everyone who takes the time to listen and read, and extra thanks to those who comment. 

~~

Warning, rant ahead. Feel free to skip forward two paragraphs if you're not interested. I hope I don't aggravate those I just thanked...

But do you want to know a secret? I consider myself a connoisseur of comedy. I own hundreds and hundreds of comedy albums, I have written comedy pieces and performed both written and improvised comedy. I write funny songs. From about the age of eight or nine and until I left home and got married, I went to sleep every single night listening to one of several dozen of my favorite comedy albums playing on my turntable.  

I don't "get" Bob Hope. I seriously don't understand what there is to "get". I consider him one of many "anti-comedians", people who makes life less humorous by their presence, and in their failed attempts to be funny. I have been exposed to his "humor" for most of my nearly 64 years, and yet have never once having cracked a smile, let along laughed, at anything he ever said. I aggressively don't get it. I find myself constitutionally incapable of sharing a Bob Hope rarity without mentioning that. Not that you asked....

However, your mileage may very much vary, and even more regardless, many out there may really enjoy hearing the sort of cornball humor that passed for big budget TV special entertainment in the mid-1960's. And so, herewith I will share this recording of a TV special that Bob Hope and the folks at NBC produced in October of 1966, titled "Murder at NBC" and featuring, per IMDB, a veritable who's who of comedic talent of that era (of varying quality, to be sure), including Milton Berle, Don Adams, Red Buttons, Johnny Carson, Jack Carter, Bill Cosby, Jimmy Durante, Don Rickles, Rowan and Martin, Jonathan Winters and more. 

But is it funny? Not to me, anyway. Not for a second. This sort of show is exactly is why the 1970's versions of George Carlin and Richard Pryor had to happen. And why the Monty Python's Flying Circus really had to happen.  

Download: Bob Hope's "Murder At NBC" - 10-19-66

Play:

~~

This next 32 minute slice of reel to reel is more interesting for what it is than for what it contains. For this may be one of the earliest examples ever made of what's long since become known as the Mix Tape. This recording exists on a paper-backed reel, of the sort only produced from around 1947 until about 1951. What's more, it appears on a reel manufactured by what I've come to understand was the first brand to market reel tape to the general public, Soundmirror (by The Brush Development Company). What's more, this particular tape box is, I believe, that company's first design. So the tape itself is perhaps 77 years old or so. Here is the tape box: 

On the tape, a man provides someone with a series of musical performances, most from records (including a couple which have skips) and at least one from the radio. My guess is that this recording was made before 1950, meaning it is at least 75 years old. Maybe someone out there can identify the specific records heard and either confirm that is possible, based on their release dates, or rule it out. 

Anyway, since 78s and Acetates generally could only fit about 4-5 minutes of material to a side, and since wire recorders were a brief niche method of recording, I have to guess that this is one of the earliest "mix tapes" you're ever going to hear. Enjoy!

Download: A 75 Year Old Mix Tape

Play:

And here's the lineup, from the back of the box: 

~~

I had a request for more Jack Eigen, and as I have literally dozens of hours of the man's work, I am happy to oblige. I wrote about him at length in this post. If you want to hear more, than simply click on his name in the labels at the bottom of this post (or put "Jack Eigen" in the search bar at upper left (this will not work on a cell phone)). Either way will bring up all of the previous Eigen posts. 

Download: Jack Eigen - The Jack Eigen Show, Volume Five

Play:

~~

I have a ton of recordings from various television productions, many of which I've shared over the years, including some featuring Howard K. Smith, as this one does. And on the box, it specifies that this was a "Rangertone Sync" interview. I guess the "Rangertone Sync" is a method by which a reel to reel recording is automatically synchronized with the film/video being made at the same time. Here he is speaking with Mr. Farley about the Irish in America

Download: Howard K Smith - Rangertone Sync - Interview About Irish in America with Mr. Farley

Play:

~~

The next tape is nothing more or less than a few people singing together, performing songs that I researched a bit and found were recorded, respectively, by Dan Fogelberg and Linda Ronstadt. 

Download: Unknown Folkies Sing Dan Fogelberg and Linda Ronstadt Songs 

Play:

~~

Back when I was posting at WFMU, I shared a few tapes feature a Chicago musician named Larry Taylor. This link will take you to the second of those posts, which itself contains a link to the first one, In my final post at WFMU, I shared some amazing excerpts from Larry Taylor's work with everyone's
favorite Solo Cup Magnate's wife (and notable person of limited singing talent), Dora Hall. 

The dozens of Larry Taylor tapes that I acquired in the late 1980's also contained multiple tapes featuring a local nightclub entertainer named Rocco Greco, who presumably was a friend of Mr. Taylor. These are uniformly cheesy and interminable, at least to my ears. I once even found a locally produced 45 RPM single, complete with cheesy picture sleeve, released by Mr. Greco. 

I recently came across a tape which seemed to be separate in my collection from the Larry Taylor tapes, but I'm almost certain it started out in that batch, and that the performer heard for most of this recording is, indeed, Rocco Greco. 

Oh, and here is his obituary, which curiously does not mention his work (although the memorial comments do). 

Download: Some 1962 Night Club Type Entertainment, Possibly Featuring Rocco Greco

Play:

~~

And finally, our "Very Short Reel". Here is someone named "Malcolm Dodds", with what was almost certainly a demo reel of one of his performances, a song called "Whatever Happened". 

Download: Malcolm Dodds - Whatever Happened

Play:

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Some 1961 BBC Musical Programs, Norman Rockwell, Erskine Hawkins, Music and Images, and Entertainment from Margie

I am desperately late in posting this time around - it's been three full weeks since the last post. I was hoping to get to some comments, but I just want to get this up and to y'all. Today's post is largely made up of the contents of two very different reels of tape, one from England and one from Chicago.

~~ 

From England, I have what I consider to be a simply wonderful collection of nighttime radio music shows from the BBC in 1961, each of them quite a bit different from the others. 

First up on the reel is a show which came about because of the fad, just around that time in Britain, for Trad Jazz, Dixieland under another name. There's a great movie out there called "It's Trad, Dad", and the famous Cavern in Liverpool was originally a Trad Den which allowed rockers like The Beatles to play lunchtime shows. 

Note that, half way through this 52 show, the program segues into "Pick of the Pops" with Alan Freeman. As Trad Jazz faded in popularity, "Pick of the Pops" became its own show, and a big hit with the kids. 

Download: Trad Tavern, Spring, 1961

Play: 

Next up is "The Starlight Room", which presents another batch of Jazz, and featuring, in this episode, Dakota Staton and Woody Herman, the latter also being interviewed on the show. The opening moments here are rather poor sound quality, but it quickly improves. 

Download: The Starlight Room (BBC Program)

Play:

And finally, a show which truly demonstrates how very different radio (and the world itself I suppose) was in 1961. Host Sandy MacPherson took letters from listeners and welcomed each of them into his "club", honoring their requests along with a few details at times about those listeners, and responding to those requests either with songs from records, or - and this is where things truly seem ancient - playing songs for them live... on his theatre pipe organ. How quaint. That's the word for it. Quaint. 

Download: Sandy's Club (BBC Program)

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~~

And now for something completely different. I have dozens of tapes which once belonged to a collector of radio and (especially) TV sound, from the late '50's and well into the '60's. Most of these tapes are meticulously numbered and have detailed information about what is contained on them. I have excerpted many of these tapes before - they tend to have very dry material (lectures, speeches) interspersed with more interesting material (live performances, interviews, tv specials), and that's the case with today's tape. One side had the radiation demonstration I featured last time, followed by a recording of a broadcast of a movie, while the other side contained a documentary on the life and works of Michelangelo, sandwiched in between two other segments that I found much more interesting, the latter of which was followed by another very interesting, if short segment, which was not mentioned on the box at all (something that is very unusual for tapes from this person's collection. 

This happens to be tape number 100 in the series. I continue to slowly work my way through them. 

Anyway, that second side of the tape starts with this fragment of an interview with Norman Rockwell, conducted by what sounds like a teenage girl: 

Download: Brief Interview with Norman Rockwell

Play:

Then comes Michelangelo, and then comes a rather fascinating recording, and it's another one which shows how much media (in this case, television) has changed since the early 1960's. If I've deduced this correctly, "Patterns in Music", recorded from a Chicago TV station around Christmastime some year, was nothing more than music off of records, played while still images from photos were shown on the screen. Narration is offered, before and after each piece of music, talking about the photos and tying the pieces together with each other and with the photos. On this episode, the theme was various colors. 

Download: "Patterns in Music" - Undated Chicago .Area Television Music and Photos Program

Play:

When the person recording stopped the machine, the end of a previously recorded segment was left - not mentioned on the tape box. I've identified this as a brief interview with Erskine Hawkins, but what's left actually starts with promotion for Joe somebody (I can't make out the last name) who was appearing locally - at the Thruway Motel (!), and then suddenly we're treated to an Erskine Hawkins track and then the last two minutes are, indeed, a few moments with Mr. Hawkins. A bit confusing, but that's what it seems to be. 

Download: Brief Fragment of an Interview with Erskine Hawkins

Play:

~~

Even after all this time, I have only a basic idea in some cases of what people coming to this site will be thrilled to hear and what will get passed over. There may be very little, or great interest in the contents of the above sets of recordings for example. 

I do, however, recognize that the next recording is not going to be for everyone, and that it won't even be close. But.... I just love this kid. Here we have a child named Margie who is entertaining herself (and later, is joined by her sister or perhaps a friend), by singing a vast repertoire of songs, reciting a bit of a play she was in at school, and demonstrating her rudimentary skills on the piano. 

She is pretty much tone deaf, but clearly would have no idea of this, and her abilities on the piano amount to little more than one note at a time. But she is HAVING SUCH A GREAT TIME. And she clearly envisions herself entertaining some unseen audience on the other end of the microphone. I love her little asides, like when she puts the microphone down to play piano and says "goodbye" to it, when she apologizes for not knowing which book her piano piece is in, and when she asks for a round of applause for... herself. And then, nearly two-thirds of the way through, she gets to really famous song, sung complete with an inexplicable (slight) accent. 

Again, I adore this girl, and this is probably my favorite new-to-me tapes that I've heard this year. To be honest, that's probably because she reminds me of... me at that age, except that I wasn't tone deaf. This sounds remarkably like the tapes I made of myself around that age, only far more entertaining. 

Download: Margie Sings, Plays Piano and Talks

Play:

~~

Finally, a "very short reel". This is a complete cheat, as the segment below is an excerpt from a four hour tape, but I really want to get this posted!

I have a group of tapes that someone made off of an Indiana radio station around 1979-1980. They contain episodes of American Top 40, an end of the year countdown, and other programming from a couple of local stations. Contained on at least two of them are episodes of Robert W. Morgan with "The Special of the Week", hour long episodes, heavy on the interviews, looking at a then-popular act. The two I've listened to so far covered the careers of George Benson and The Who. Your mileage may vary, but I have zero interest in the George Benson, and I enjoy perhaps six tracks in the entire career of The Who. So these were not interesting shows to listen to for me. 

But I did enjoy the introduction to the episode on The Who, less for Morgan's reworking of Abbott and Costello (although it's worth hearing), than for the fake letter that he used to set up the bit, specifically the name of the fake letter writer. Here is the segment that led off The Special of the Week featuring The Who. 

Download: Robert W Morgan - Who's On First

Play:

Oh, and The Who were hardly the first groups to record a concept album. The Almanac Singers (featuring Pete Seeger) made several of them in the 1940's, including albums encouraging the US to stay out of World War II and collections of songs in the support of Unions), and Frank Sinatra had a few in the 1950's, as well. The "Manhattan Tower" album and its sequels and imitators come to mind, too.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Lots of Unknowns! Radiation and Calculator Demonstrations, Some Asian Television, Letters From and To Howard, Hoagy Carmichael, Safety & More

A bit of housekeeping to start: 

Thanks for all the comments on the Gary Owens tape. That's a keeper. Thanks also for the guesses as to the purpose of the "Mood Music", as well as the observation that they made have been recorded from acetates. Also, I'm informed that the anonymous "Journey Into Sound" that I posted is a famous album which was featured on a seminal hip-hop track. I had no idea. 

And with regard to the fragment of Illinois Basketball that I featured a month ago, during March Madness, Eric Carlson offered this: 

Very appropriate basketball recording as George Wilson of the winning Marshall High team went on to the University of Cincinnati which twice won the NCAA championship and just missed by two points a third in his time there. He was also on the 1964 Olympics gold winning US basketball team. He passed away last summer.

Thanks for all the comments. They consistently make my day and help make this project worthwhile. 

~~

There has always been a sense of mystery to some of the things I post here. I regularly attribute the performance or speaking heard on tapes to "unknown" or "unknown (this) or (that)", and now and then someone is able to chime in and give a name or a title to that unknown person or people. 

For today's post, it struck me that, by chance, most of the items I was choosing feature someone (or a group of people) that I cannot identify at all. There are exceptions, but this group of items is sort of dominated by those unknowns. 

If anyone is able to identify anyone heard on ANY of these items, I'm going to guess it's most likely that the man heard on this first piece of tape will be the one who gets identified. It's a peculiar bit of tape, listed on the box as being "Radiation - G.E. Class". See?: 

I suppose this might be Mr. Wizard - the presence of an adolescent assistant makes that more likely, I guess. But if that's the case, why doesn't it say "Mr. Wizard" (who had his own show), and not "Radiation - G.E. Class". And I checked - G.E. was not Mr. Wizard's sponsor. Regardless, it's an interesting little piece of tape, and I hope neither of the participants was harmed by radiation exposure!

Download: Unknown - General Electric Class on Radiation

Play: 

~~

Now here's something I can hardly give you any information about at all, but maybe someone out there can decipher the piece of paper from the box, scanned below, or can understand the language here and tell us all what this is. I'm guessing this is a Japanese program, but if not, it is certainly a broadcast containing speaking and singing in some Asian language. I suspect this is a variety show. 

The rest of the tape was also in what appears to be the same language, and was almost certainly a recording of a television broadcast of a movie, but this section, at the beginning of the reel, was separated by two minute-long segments of white noise, before and after it. Then followed the movie broadcast. 

Here it is!

Download: Unknown - Unknown Asian Show

Play:

Here's the card. The material above was on the side marked "B" (the A side was a very badly recorded concert)


~~

Here's a tape that doesn't fit the general theme (and again, this wasn't pre-planned, just something I noticed about almost everything I grabbed). And I could have sworn I shared this fun little tape years and years ago, but I can find no record of actually having done so. If it is somewhere out there, on this site or WFMU, maybe someone can let me know. 

Anyway, this is a direct line-in tape of a show that was broadcast at some point on the radio, a children's show hosted by someone named Larry Payne, titled "Safety Quiz". This show, as you'll hear, from schools in the Lenawee County area of Michigan, with this particular episode coming from a school in Hudson, MI. And I think that's all I need to say. 

Download: Larry Payne and Kids - Safety Quiz

Play:

~~

Now here's someone who is only slightly less unknown. His name is (or was) Howard, and in this Audio Letter - the beginning of which was erased, so it starts mid-thought - he makes some comments about being in the Armed Forces, and issues he is facing, and then goes on to discuss some of his favorite recent records. He then further goes on to share some of those records. This includes the fact that he is particularly taken with Louis Jordan's new style, and compares and contrasts Jordan's previous style and a somewhat more recent record, from 1952. However, other records he plays, including "Unchained Melody", pretty well date this actual letter and sharing of music to 1955. The sound quality is less than pristine here, but it's still worth a listen. 

Download: Howard Sends an Audio Letter About Being in the Armed Forces, Then Shares a Few Records

Play: 

On the flip side of this same tape is a brief audio letter back to Howard. It sounds like the recipients of the above tape responded to him using the same tape. The sound quality is decidedly better, and the lengthy is just about half of that of the above and this one is dated, confirming the 1955. As is so often the case on these early audio letters, there is considerable discussion of the actual recording of a tape and tape machines in general, before moving on to more general subjects. Another man speaks for a few minutes, and then the first man tests the microphone and sings a bit. Then it's over. 

Download: Brief Audio Letter to Howard, 7-24-55

Play:

~~

AND NOW!!!!

For all of you who have been waiting to hear a tape recording of a presentation in which a man demonstrates the wonders of a Mechanical Calculator - and I KNOW you're out there - here is just what you've been waiting for! This tape even has the benefit of having some interference by another recording at another speed, for the first 30 seconds or so. I'm sure I've made your day. You're welcome. 

Download: Unknown - Demonstrating a Mechanical Calculator

Play:

~~

Now it's time for our "Acetate of the Month". And this one keeps up the general theme of "lack of information". I again know nothing about this record, aside from that it was an unlabeled Audiodisc acetate, recorded at 33 1/3 RPM (which is fairly unusual for the acetates in my collection - most are 78s), and that it features a man with a British accent offering two bits of commentary, one called "A Cognac in the Morning", and the other, "The Gentle Art of Croquet":  

Download: Audiodisc Acetate - English Man Speaking - A Cognac In the Morning

Play:

Download: Audiodisc Acetate - English Man Speaking - The Gentle Art of Croquet

Play:

~~

And finally, our "Very Short Reel" for this posting. And yet again, I've chosen something which has an air of mystery about it, in this case, the entire thing is a mystery. This short tape (just under three minutes) contains an unidentified woman singing a pompous, pretentious song, one which is also unidentified. She is singing to God about all the failings of man, and beseeching the Lord to.... well, I'm actually not sure what she is asking for.... The performance is full of spoken word segments, and the whole thing sounds like nothing so much as a Halmark label song-poem, the likes of which I have featured many times on my other blog - here are my Halmark label posts

Maybe someone out there knows who this is, and perhaps even the backstory. Whoever the people behind this are, they did manage to make a recording that does have something Godlike above it: It's Godawful. 

Download: Unknown Singer - Unknown Song

Play:

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

A Tribute to an Old Friend, Stereo Demonstration, Brainwashing, Mood Music, Carla and Linda, and More!

I would like to start today's post with a bit of a tribute. It was shortly before I finished my last post, on Easter Sunday, that I learned that an old friend of mine had died in his sleep on the overnight going into Easter. I'll just refer to him Mako, as that's what all of us called him. He died after at least ten years of failing health, a period during which he lived in a nursing home, and unfortunately, I think I spoke to him only once, during that period, and didn't see him at all. 

I first met Mako when I was around 19 and he was around 13. He was unusually smart and witty for an early teen, and had broad and deep interests in many things. I remember arguing and discussing a variety of political issues with him a few years later, when we were, respectively, about 21 and 15 (what I had known and thought about any such issues at age 15 would have fit into a thimble). He was a self described "raconteur and bon vivant", and rarely has anyone described himself more accurately. He could speak extemporaneously about nearly any subject, and was rarely less than fascinating to be with.

I've written from time to time about the parties featuring improvised and planned comedy and music, which I was one of the driving forces behind, and which were held from 1983 until 1991, and again from 2004 until 2016 (and which perhaps will start up again!). Mako was a central part of these from the beginning. One of the things I've found myself quite good at is coming up with comedic concepts (and even character names) which I am unable to pull off myself, but for which I can often successfully figure out who else might make the idea "work". So it was at the first of these parties, when I suggested that Mako host an improved, fake revival meeting as a man with the old south in his bones, "The Reverend Billy Joe Bob Leghorn". It was a magnificent 20 minutes. He was all of 17 at the time. Mako and I were in and out of each other's lives between the late 1980's and the early 2010's, and when we were in touch, he attended these parties, and always played a central role when he was there. 

Eight years later, in 1991, it was, as it turns out, the last such party for 13 years, and Mako was again present. It was the smallest attended of these parties ever - only about eight of us there - but one of the best. As I sometimes did, I wrote a lengthy fake newscast, riffing off the stories of the day and simply playing with language to make jokes. I also usually wrote a few other things for my friends to read, as part of the newscast. This party occurred not long after the Clarence Thomas / Anita Hill story was in the news, and in response, I wrote what I think is one of the funniest bits of comedy I ever composed, a veritable string of double entendres about the matter. However, as good as it was, in Mako's hands, it became exponentially greater. He did a perfect job, and made it far funnier than I could of, or than anyone else I knew could of. I asked him simply to perform it in that same character, The Reverend Billy Joe Bob Leghorn. He took it and ran with it. It turned out to be the third and last time he would inhabit that faux preacher. 

This recording even fits with the theme of this site. All but the first two parties are preserved on videotape, so there is video of this performance. But being that I am a person who treasures high quality recordings, ALL of the parties have also been captured in reel to reel tape. 

That was sort of a long story, but Mako is worth it, and a lot more. Maybe someday I'll post his attempt (also my idea) to host a talk show parody, as the lead in "Mahatma!: The Mahatma Gandhi Show", from a 1985 party, or the other talk show parody he hosted (an idea cooked up by my younger child and me), in the persona of Mothra Bunsen, host of "Mothra Bunsen's Neck-Slappin' Good Time Hour" (maybe you had to be there...). But for now, here is his masterpiece - a rendition of a script I wrote called "The Missionary Position": 

Download: Mako (As the Rev Billy Joe Bob Leghorn) - The Missionary Position

Play:

I'm ever so glad I got to know Mako, and that I had the opportunity to introduce him to so many others, who got to know him through the aforementioned parties. He brightened my life every time I was with him. 

~~

A short introduction for this next piece. Here is yet another of those Stereo Demonstration tapes which came with the newest of stereo tape recorders, in the years when such technology was new, roughly 1957 to 1961. You'll even get to hear "The Ceremony of the Keys". I'm sure the narrator, with his cultured English accent, was chosen for just the sort of style and finesse such a voice brings to mind when hearing such a demonstration. Interestingly enough, this tape did not come to me in its original box, and unlike every other demonstration tape I've heard, the narration doesn't seem to be promoting a specific brand of tape machine or record label's releases. This is quite unusual. But regardless, I don't know who produced this tape!

Download: A Journey Into Sound - Stereo Demonstration Tape

Play:

~~

Nearly 14 years ago, at WFMU's blog, I posted an interview with Edward Hunter, the man who coined the English language version of the term "Brainwashing". Today, I have another recording of Mr. Hunter, a lengthy speech given in Port Washington, New York. And that's all I have to say about it. 

Download: Edward Hunter - Speech on Brainwashing in Port Washington, New York

Play:

~~

This next tape, as you can see from this scan of part of the tape box, is labeled "Mood Music for Motion Pix": 

And I'm going to share it just as it plays off the reel, and identified under that title. And for more than 30 of its 40 plus minutes, I believe that's exactly what it is. But the first ten minutes don't really fit the description, nor do they seem of a piece with the rest of the tape. That section all seems to be its own segment, and I also think it is an example of what today would be called "World Music", and I'm not even going to hazard a guess as to what part of the world it is from. 

The rest really does sound like maybe someone compiled it for use with home movies or perhaps an amateur film, or perhaps even something else. 

Download: Mood Music for Motion Pix

Play:

Here, maybe this will help. These four sheets of paper were contained within the box, stapled together in the order I've scanned them here. They certainly purport, I think, to describe in detail what's heard on this tape. But I can't match these various notes together in any way that makes sense, to the sounds heard on the tape. Perhaps some smart person (or people) out there can figure it out and educate me. 

~~

Now, here's a tape featuring sisters Carla and Linda, singing a wide variety of music. It's dated from December of 1959, and February and May of 1960. Not surprisingly, the early parts of the tape are dominated by Christian and/or Christmas songs (not all of the latter being of a religious nature), but then the rest of the tape is filled with everything from nonsense songs to folk songs and even a pair of songs from the German opera Hansel and Gretel, as well as some re-written Mozart. 

Along the way, the girls' father interviews them a few times, and we learn that for Linda's 1960 birthday party, the family went to Fanny's Famous Restaurant, which was a legendary spot on the north side of Evanston, IL, well known for its unique salad dressing and unique spin on spaghetti, giving us a good idea of where these girls were growing up. 

I figure these girls are somewhere close to 70 years old now. 

Download: Carla and Linda - Singing and Talking, December, 1959 to May, 1960

Play:

~~

And now, here's something I've wanted to do for a while. I have no idea if it will popular or not, but if you're of a mind to, please tell me. I'm simply going to share both sides of a home recorded variety reel - a tape which appears to all come from the same person or family, which contains a variety of different types of recordings made around the house, live as they lived, or off of the radio or records, or, as on the first side, perhaps by someone who carted their recorder to a singing lesson or performance. I do not know anything about the people heard on this tape, aside from some names which crop up on the second side. 

The first side is about a dozen minutes shorter than the second side because the opening musical performances were recorded at 15 IPS while the rest of the tape was recorded at 7 1/2 IPS. The names of the files explain very well what is contained on each side. 

Again, let me know if you're interested in more of this sort of "slice of someone's life" thing. 

Download: A Home Recorded Variety Reel, Side 1 - A Soprano Rehearses, Pop Songs, Trumpet Practice, Talking and Singing

Play: 

Download: A Home Recorded Variety Reel, Side 2 - Home Recordings and Radio Broadcasts - Piano, Hawaiian Songs, A Soprano On the Air, A Bit of Talking

Play:

~~

And now it's time for our "Very Short Reel". This is all that was recorded on a full, 1200 foot reel of tape - the rest was never used. I think it's self explanatory. 

Download: "Not Plugged In"

Play:

Sunday, March 31, 2024

The Return of KRAP Radio, A Bit of Basketball, Sound on Sound, A Good Friday Sermon, Commercials and PSA's

HAPPY EASTER!

I'm going to start with a sequel to a post I made just over four years ago, in which I shared a tape of some high school students and their fake radio station, KRAP Radio. Well, I recently found another tape of KRAP radio parody material, and thought I'd share it, as well. 

As it happens, in that post, I mention that the students involved in this project seemed to be from High School Radio Station KDBG, and by chance, I posted more material - real radio recordings, not this pretend stuff - from that station in my last post, so clearly, all of these tapes must have come from the same reel purchase, at some point. 

This is far more entertaining than the real broadcasts, I think.

Download: KRAP Radio - The Station That Is Full of It

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And here, for your further enjoyment, is the rest of that same reel - presumably some of the same kids, engaging in some reel to reel weirdness. 

Download: Material After KRAP Radio - Weirdness from Some High School Students

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We are in the midst of the annual insanity around College Basketball. I personally find the idea of caring about a college basketball team - and certainly caring about who wins a college basketball game - bizarre in the extreme. I would enjoy watching college basketball about as much as I would watching golf or soccer: 30 seconds would be more than enough, especially when one could be watching baseball, tennis or bowling (Three Cheers for Jason Belmonte!). Or streaming Monty Python episodes for that matter,

But anyway, in honor of this yearly event, and for those who do enjoy amateur basketball, here's a tape containing, within its 33 minutes of radio recordings, some moments from the 1958 Illinois State High School Basketball Final, some postgame coverage, and then a very short part of a newscast, some of which is also about that basketball game. 

Download: Excerpts From the 1958 Illinois State High School Basketball Final, Postgame and Newscast

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Now here's a tape I really enjoyed, not least because, prior to the late 1990's, every time I recorded one of my songs, I used the tape recording method known as Sound on Sound, where you record one track and then bounce back and forth between the two monaural tracks adding more sounds to your recording. Depending on the machine used, you may end up with a stereo recording in which one track alone has the final additions, or you may end up with one track which contains all but the last thing you added, and the other track which has is delayed a split second and contains your entire production, meaning your performance is in mono. The latter is the case here. 

Whoever recorded these guitar pieces appears to me to have only made a basic track and then overdubbed them once. But they are well done and, to my ears, quite enjoyable. 

Download: Unknown - Guitar Performances Using Sound on Sound, Volume 5

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Here's the list of songs you will hear, from the tape box, although the first song is not "Chattanooga Choo Choo", it's "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe": 

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With today being Easter, and of course Good Friday having just passed two days ago, here is a brief Good Friday sermon. What makes this recording remarkable is that it comes from a reel of paper-backed tape, the likes of which was phased out as a product around 1951 or so, meaning that this recording likely comes from the dawn of reel to reel recording, and is likely somewhere around 73-75 years ago. It ends sort of suddenly, and far from sure it was over when the tape ran out, yet it also ends with several seconds of silence, so maybe it did end like that. 

Download: Unknown - A Good Friday Sermon (From a Paper Reel)

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Here is a short collection of commercials, all of which are parts of series already heard on this blog. However, none of these specific commercials have been shared - just others from the same collection, a huge collection of ads, mostly from the Pacific Northwest, which I bought a few decades ago. 

Download: A Collection of Commercials

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Here is a recording of a radio broadcast of a play written by Woody Allen, titled "God". This is a recording from legendary Chicago radio station WFMT. It starts with a very short excerpt from the play, and then the announcement of the sponsorship, a commercial, a bit of introduction, then the play. There is a break about half way through and the second half of the play. There are credits at the end. 

Download: Woody Allen's "God"

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"Mélange": noun. a mixture; confusion.

I labeled the first half (plus) of this tape "Weird Melange of Sound". See if you agree. A little bit more than halfway through this tape, we hear a moment of an audio letter, and then more randomness, before the audio letter comes back at 7:37 and we hear its contents for nearly six minutes. Most of that duration contains a woman speaking to her mother, talking about her mother-in-law and griping about someone else in her family, before requesting a return tape. 

Download: Unknown: Weird Mélange of Sound, Followed by a Short Audio Letter

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And now, our very short reel. And it is extremely short - 55 seconds - and contains someone offering up a brief tribute to the very clearly remarkable Enrico Toti, a one-legged cyclist and World War I hero who you can read about here. With apologies to Rudyard Kipling and his poem about Gunga Din, our unnamed speaker offers a re-written version of that poem, in praise of his hero, giving it three recitations in less than a minute. 

Download: Unknown: Tribute to Enrico Toti

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Monday, March 18, 2024

Some Great Jingles, London Nightlife, High School Radio, Talking to Australia, Some Cute Kids, and the Sports of 1971

HI! 

I'm gonna dive right in! Let's start with a lovely little tape which is labeled, as you can see below, "Agency Jingles - Background Music", and on the side of the box it is further labeled "# 53":

And of course, it's also labeled with a complete listing of the tracks, most of which - but not all - are in fact instrumental music for radio commercials. There are some vocals mixed in, though. I have no idea what agency created these or exactly when they are from. All of the information I have is in the scan, above. But these are great!

Download: Agency Jingles - Background Music # 53

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Now here is a bit of programming, from the BBC, that I find absolutely fascinating. It is an edition of what was apparently a weekly show, one which captured as much as possible of what was going on in world of entertainment and theatre in London. Again, this was captured on a weekly basis, with new material every week, some of it from records, but mostly recording specifically from this program. I have found, in my collection, a tape containing three episodes of this show, "London Mirror", from late in 1961, all but this first one complete (this one is missing the opening theme). The variety heard in these forty-some minutes is truly impressive even if, rather than play that icky Elvis Presley, they instead had a bland rendition of his latest hit performed by an in-house conglomeration. In fact, rock and roll music (and its creators) is conspicuously absent among the otherwise fairly broad picture of night life in London reflected in these shows. Many of you (well, me, at least) might be most intrigued by the segment featuring Goons great Harry Secombe, as this appears to be a recording of him made specifically for the show, and perhaps not available anywhere else. The person who recorded this show even cut out the newspaper ad for the program, which captures all of that variety in a very small space: 

Please let me know if you'd like to hear more of these - as I said I've found three and there may be more.

Download: London Mirror, 11/18/61

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Now, let's fly from London to Turlock, CA, some time in the late 1970's, and what was then the local high school radio station, where someone was trying - very poor attempts, to my ears - to make some promos for said station, KDBG. 

Download: Working on a Promo for KDBG Radio, Turlock High School, Turrlock, CA

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But that's only part of what's on this reel - if it wasn't, I'd have used that segment for a "very short reels" presentation. No, the rest of the tape contains an episode of another student's country music programming, including, for the last several minutes, what was apparently the stations very own mix of some odd, humorous country material, ending with a peculiar take on the country standard "Still". 

Download: Country Music on KDBG Radio, Turlock High School, Turlock, CA

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And now, here's a moment in time. I have a bunch of tapes from a professional band - nowhere on them does it seem to specify who they were, just the number of "men" in the group and the event captured on the tape - in concert at "The Elks' Ball" at the end of January, 1959. I have unfortunately misplaced the box for this one, but that's what it said, along with that reference to "nine men" or whatever it was. Their repertoire is pretty well all over the map - everything from "The Peter Gunn Theme" to "The Walter Winchell Rhumba" to "Misty" to "Oh Johnny Oh". Download this one and listen to it sometime while you're working around the house. It's about 72 minutes long. 

And again, if you dig this, let me know. I have more from this ensemble. 

Download: Unknown Band - Performance at The Elks' Ball, 1-30-59

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For those of you who enjoy Audio Letters, here's one from a man in Maine to a friend in Australia: 

Download: Audio Letter from Maine to Australia

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And now it's time for our "Acetate of the Month". And I gotta say, as brief as this is (67 seconds), it's one of the sweetest, even the most adorable, things I've ever shared here. This record scores a 10 on the "authentic cuteness" scale. It's titled (by me, anyway, there is nothing written on the disc itself) "Two Children Play-Act a Visit", and I don't think anything further needs to be said. Enjoy!

Download: Voice-O-Graph 6 Inch Recording Disc Acetate - Two Children Play-Act a Visit

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And finally, a very short reel. Here is a child of the early '70's, clearly from Pittsburgh (or at least a Pittsburgh fan), giving a short play by play of the 1971 world series, before cutting in with a bit of radio, then being generally boisterous (with at least one other child, I think) and finishing with a bit of basketball play by play. Interestingly, both the Pirates and the basketball team end up with 14 runs/points. 

Download: Unknown - Baseball and Basketball Reports, 1971

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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

More Than FOUR HOURS of Gary Owens on Armed Forces Radio, 1967!

Today's post will excite some of you for hours on end. First, I will say this: 

In the early 1980's, I became of devotee of Gary Owens' magnificent radio show "Soundtrack of the '60's". The music was wonderful, and I became familiar with a lot of oldies I hadn't heard before, particularly those from 1960-63. But the real appeal of the show was Gary Owens' insane commentary and asides between the songs. I was, of course, familiar with him from "Laugh-In", but had known nothing else of him. These shows made me a huge fan, and I filled multiple cassettes with nothing but the looniness he filled his deejay patter with. 

So now, what I've discovered in my collection, is a series of recordings made in Saigon, presumably by a soldier, in 1967, of a show called "GO: The Music Guy Show", which aired on Armed Forces Radio. Here's the slip from inside the box: 


There are actually six shows on the tape, five of them complete (or nearly complete) and the last one interrupted when the tape runs out. There are brief gaps in a couple of the others, where the recording stopped for some reason. 

Looking at the inset card again, I think I have these dates wrong - the first three are probably the "Pre-Cassette (sic) tapes, which are undated, above, and the last three are probably the ones with dates. But I'm not going to start over again and rename and link them all.... Oh, and the last two were recorded in terrible quality - very bass-heavy and hard to listen to. I have done some equalizing to them. If that is not to your liking, let me know, and I'll post them in their original form and you can have a crack at 'em. 

Anyway....

The music heard on these shows is not appealing to me AT ALL. Those of you who enjoy the Beautiful Music offerings I've put up may find this right up your alley, although I suspect this material would have been more accurately termed "Easy Listening" in 1967. I did grin at the song "I Looked Back" by Perry Como, but Como was almost ALWAYS far better than anyone else in this god-forsaken genre of music. I didn't know Gary Owens, but I've always pictured him enjoying the top 40 hits of the day over this sort of mush, so I imagine him gritting his teeth through these sessions, but I could be wrong. 

But as I expected, the star of these tapes is Gary Owens, who is, just as on "Soundtrack of the '60s", hysterically funny in his asides and bits. He throws in some historical facts here and there, and each episode has a bit of puffery about citizenship, soldiering or similar. But then it's right back to the ridiculous names, silly voices and general ridiculousness. 

This tape is a real treasure.   

Download: Gary Owens - GO, The Music Guy Show - Armed Forces Radio, 8-5-67

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Download: Gary Owens - GO, The Music Guy Show - Armed Forces Radio, 8-12-67

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Download: Gary Owens - GO, The Music Guy Show - Armed Forces Radio, 8-19-67

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Download: Gary Owens - GO, The Music Guy Show - Armed Forces Radio, Unknown Date # 1

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Download: Gary Owens - GO, The Music Guy Show - Armed Forces Radio, Unknown Date # 2

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Download: Gary Owens - GO, The Music Guy Show - Armed Forces Radio, Unknown Date # 3 (Incomplete)

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You might also enjoy the writing on the inside of the tape box: 

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Well, it wouldn't be a full post without a "Very Short Reel", and so here are some parts of a Spelling Test which popped up on a small reel of tape. This tape only qualifies (and barely) as "Very Short", because a few minutes have been edited out of the middle of it. As you'll hear, a loud hum recurs a few times. At one point on the original tape (around 2:15) the hum finally overcame the recorded speech entirely, and so I cut that part out. As a result, the test jumps from the seventh word of the ten word test directly into the answers being given, starting with the spelling of the first word. 

This teacher is sort of cruel, I think. He had the children score each other's tests and then told them they were to read out loud the score of the person whose test each of them had reviewed. Ecch. 

Download: Unknown - Spelling Test 
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