Wednesday, March 18, 2020

A Rare Nat "King" Cole Recording, The March of Dimes, and More!


I hope everyone out there is well and stays well. I have something remarkable today, but first, a few things about recent comments. I appreciate everyone who stops by, and love hearing whatever anyone has to say. Unfortunately, if the person commenting doesn't link to an e-mail address, I am unable to answer personally.

In light of that, I wanted to answer the person who asked if I had any earlier Jack Eigen recordings, from the late 1940's and early 1950's. The answer is that I don't - I only have them from the 1968-early 70's. I've only had one request to share more of this collection, but if anyone else wants to hear it, I'm open to sharing it - I have a ton of it.

On a completely separate note, writer Tony suggests that the mysterious writing on the most recent Scotch tape box, "Weather Balanced" might well have to do with the tape performing equally well, with no discernible differences, in wildly various weather situations, particularly with regard to differences in humidity. That's as good an idea as any.


Today, I'm featuring a recording I believe to be exceptionally rare, given its historic value and the fact that I can find almost no posting of it online, save for several postings of a single song from the end of the broadcast.

It's from the legendary Nat "King" Cole TV show, which ran for two seasons before NBC gave up trying to find a copy that would regularly sponsor a show hosted by a Black man. The show ran barely over a year. What I have here is virtually the entire episode of August 6, 1957, when Cole welcomed Harry Belafonte. IMDB indicates this was a 15 minute episode, although elsewhere on the page for the show, and on Wikipedia, it says the show expanded to 30 minutes that summer. And indeed, this is a 30 minute episode.

(Not that you asked (and I'm sure you don't care...), but I'm not a fan, at all, of Nat "King" Cole, whose mannered over-enunciated style of singing I find insufferable. On the other hand, Harry Belafonte has made some records I love, including the "Calypso" album, which is certainly among my dozen favorite albums ever. But more often he could be just as precious as Cole, and that's the side of him featured, for the most part, here, with the exception of the calypso number at the end (and which is the segment that's readily available). The first time I heard "Scarlet Ribbons", for example, was one time too many.)

However, I do recognize the importance and rarity of this reel, and that there are far more people who don't share my taste than that do. And I'm happy to share this with whatever part of the world is reading and listening.

Download: The Nat King Cole Show, August 6, 1957, With Harry Belafonte


Now please understand, I'm certainly not saying that Cole couldn't sing - he obviously had great talent, even if it's not to my taste. As a contrast, here's someone who absolutely could not sing - who clearly had no ability to hear or sing on pitch - and seems to have been blissfully unaware of it, as he happily sings - over and over and over again for God knows what reason - with a very family one-time # 1 hit record:

Download: Unknown - Singing Along to "Runaround Sue"


Now let's transition into something more entertaining and certainly more meaningful: I recently came across this reel of Public Service Announcements, all strung together on one reel, despite being for three different organizations, ones with no direct link between them, as far as I know. During these 23 minutes, you'll hear from more than a dozen celebrities, some whose names live on even today, at least among some of us, and others who are largely forgotten today, promoting The March of Dimes, then Care Packages, then Cerebral Palsy (unlike the first two, all of the PSAs for latter feature the same celebrity, singer Ken Carson).

Download: A Collection of PSA's for The March of Dimes, Care Packages and Cerebral Palsy

And finally, let's keep going with our "Very Short Tapes" project. As luck would have it, the tape I pulled out at random (after compiling everything else in this post, also features PSA's, in this case, four PSA's from late in 1980 from the American Heart Association. And here's that tape:

Download: The American Heart Association, Four PSA's, November and December, 1980

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Two Great Commercials and Two Home Recordings

Happy Leap Year Day,

It's been quite a while since I updated the Scotch Tape Box series, mostly because I've barely had time recently to complete posts at all. But today's the day. Last time I updated the series, I acknowledged having accidentally skipped over two designs, and offered up one of those, promising one more to come.

I actually suspect that this one, while coming after the iconic and stark black and gray box they used in for much of the 1950's, actually came before the clock motif one that I shared last time, but there's no way I can be even remotely certain.

Regardless, this one is an absolute favorite, one which they didn't use for very long at all, judging from the frequency with which these boxes turn up (rarely). There's a hell of a lot going on here. The scotch design on the outside edge is still there, and there is a vestige of the grey image of a reel, but if you didn't know what it was, you wouldn't necessarily figure it out.

As to the rest of the box, it's so busy that I'm not surprised they dispensed with it quickly. It says "PE backing", directly over part of the writing on the grey box, and the entire left side of the box is given over to drawings of various kinds of weather, with the phrase "Weather Balanced" in the center. This phrase is also on the edges of the box. I have no idea what that has to do with anything - maybe someone can enlighten me. And like the previous tape box shared, this one again trumpets the fact that the reel has 50% more tape on it than a seven inch reel could previously hold.

I'm guessing they decided this was too complicated to be worthwhile, but I love it.


Another project, one I have been keeping up with, is the "Very Short Reels" project, which is linked with that phrase at the bottom of this page. This time around, instead of again tacking the short reel onto the end of my post, I'm going to lead off with it, because this is one of my favorite tapes ever. I found it in 1992, most likely at the ALS Mammoth Music Mart, which I've written about multiple times, so won't describe it again. 

The five inch box had a cover I would have found irresistible, then and now: 

Are you kidding me? Some local ad agency's own tape of an ad produced for some company's Cherry Sauce? And recorded two days after I was born? That's for me. 

In most cases when I find something this cool, the actual contents turn out to be something of a disappointment. But not this time. I love old-timey radio advertisements, as my multiple posts of the Star Ads should make clear. And this one is as good as all but the very best of the Star Ads. 

It's heard in two versions, a version with the chorus vocals (including a section of individual vocals), but with no voice over, and the version with the spoken voice over. Oddly, perhaps, I prefer the version without the voice over, by far. There is just so much going on in that basic track, The section from 0:10 to 0:18 is masterfully arranged and played. I almost feel like it's spoiled when someone talks over it. I also love the xylophone player getting his part right as the take is announced at the beginning of the backing track version. Finally, I think it's entirely possible that one of these singers later moved over to the Star Ads agency. If you have a listen to some of those ads, particularly the ones featuring the guy I call "the voice" of Star Ads. He's heard here in the first and last ads, and I think he's in this ad, solo, at the 0:48 spot. 

One of my favorite things that I've ever found on a reel - The Comstock Cherry Sauce ad by The Gordon Best Company. 



Always remember: Lighten each dish with extra delish. 


Well, that's a tape I've been enjoying for over 25 years. Here's one I just discovered this week. It was in the middle of a off-the-air recording of Victor Borge's TV show circa late 1958 or 1959. That was enjoyable enough, but basically captured his act, which I adore (I would rank Borge among the top three or four comedians of the century), but which I am extremely familiar with/ 

However, the show contained several lengthy ads for Pontiac, including, delightfully, one of almost two minutes featuring Bob and Ray, and which I don't believe has ever been anthologized or captured on youtube, etc. So here is that ad, for your dining and dancing pleasure: 



Next up is a short bit of recording which I found in the middle of someone's recordings of some mid-1950's pop music. Usually that type of tape is wholly uninteresting, containing material that either never needs to be heard again (ahem, Mantovani), or which is readily available on youtube, or things that qualify for both of those descriptions. 

And yet, here was an absolutely lovely little 7 1/2 minute blast of a happy family (or perhaps family and friends), singing together fairly joyously at times. There are several children present and someone playing a guitar. After a brief rendition of the children's song, "Five Little Ducks", we move on to the recent hits of the day. 

Based on the songs sung, I'm guessing this tape to be from 1957, probably early 1957, based on the familiarity everyone present has with several hits from late in 1956. That this is right in the heart of what is perhaps my single favorite 18 months ever for popular music surely adds to my enjoyment, but I hope those who listen to it will find it at least pleasant and sweet. 

The songs that follow are: Marianne, Wringle Wrangle, and one I don't recognize, all featuring guitar and enthusiastic singing from the children present, then Horace the Horse (a children's song) and The Green Door, both sung a capella, and with a lot of comments from the children. The raucous nature of these recordings then gives way to a very sweet and harmonious version of "Blueberry Hill". During this song, though, one of the children decides it's time to stop recording and becomes increasingly loud about his or her displeasure, and the recording is ended. 



And finally, a tape I find fairly tedious, but which is unique enough and certainly rare enough to make it worth sharing. This tape contains what appear to be a few friends, repeatedly rehearsing and practicing songs - mostly just two of them - over and over again in different settings and styles, with both organ and piano backing. I have done a lyric search, and I don't believe these are songs which ever became popular - they may not have even ever been published - so this may have been the work of an amateur songwriter with some hope, via these demos, of having a hit song, or simply friends performing material they'd written. Who knows? At the end there are performances of the standard "Laura" and of a song called "Don't Take Your Love From Me" (and there is a glitch in the latter performance), but for the first 36 minutes or so of this 41 minute segment, it's just the same couple of songs, again and again and again. 


Sunday, February 9, 2020

February 9th Potpourri: Joe Gerossi, His Friends, and More!

I see by the calendar that it's February 9th. This marks the 56th anniversary of the Beatles' first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show - can you believe it?

And as I have no particular theme for today's posts, I'll label it a potpourri.

But first - as some of you know, I also write a blog which is largely about the wholly American side-show to the music industry known as song-poems. And I am happy to announce that I have been invited to be part of yet another podcast, this one focusing on 25 of my own personal favorite song-poem and song-poem related records. This has been in the works for over six months, and the podcaster, Brian Kramp, and I finally did the interview late in January. The podcast can be heard here and here, and if you want to see the list of songs, it can be found here (the list is in reverse order, from 25 up, with a section near the top of a handful of song-poem related discs (which are not actually song poems). It's all explained in the show.

But let's get back to the reel to reel thang:

My prime offering for the day is something of a potpourri all on its own. And while I found it strangely entertaining, I can certainly understand if others tire of it quickly, or even gradually. It's a home recording (well, at least parts of it seem to have been recorded in a barber shop, actually), featuring a handful of people speaking, complicated at times by both a.) repeated decisions to erase existing recordings, often mid-sentence, and b.) even more so a poorly functioning reel to reel machine.

The dominant speaker for much of the tape is a barber named Joe Gerossi, who seems to have fashioned himself as something of a dry wit, and you can decide for yourself how accurate that is. After a bit of speaking, we get to hear some homey (and homely) music for the next eight minutes or so, although a short discussion of how long a soldier has to be stay in the army pops up near the end.

After a moment with a small child, Mr. Gerossi interviews a client of his barbershop, then we enter a lengthy section where he attempt to interact with a Myna Bird, with virtually no success. The disorienting thing here - and which makes it sort of fascinating to me - is that he is recording over a previous attempt to do the same sort of recording, and it would appear that his machine wasn't working well, because the old recording is bleeding through, sort of like a fun-house mirror version of what we're listening to. It also helps that every now and then the speed of the recording falters. There is also, regrettably, some harmonica playing here and there. A very odd segment.

Then, at about the 24 minute mark, another voice takes over, not identified, doing some extremely ineffective sounding fast-speak hypnotism. And again, this is rendered fairly disorienting because Joe and his monologues about the Myna are three-quarters erased but still audible behind much of this five minute portion.

Someone sings "Chantilly Lace" (perhaps dating this tape to 1958?) and then Mr. Gerossi returns, getting a couple of responses from the Myna Bird, but not much. All too soon (or perhaps far too late) the tape ends just beyond the 32 minute mark.

Download: Joe Gerossi and Friends - Various Recordings


Switching gears so severely as to be essentially in a completely different type of vehicle, here's a short hunk of tape containing multiple attempts at getting some opening and closing music JUST right, for a show called "Stars in Action", which multiple sources tell me aired on CBS during the 1958-59 TV season. It was, oddly, a program of repeats of a CBS show from earlier in the decade, shown under this new title, and part of CBS' fall lineup for 1958. I wonder if that's been done before or since.

These largely sound interchangeable to me - in fact, these sound canned, rather than live - but clearly they had something specific in mind. My favorite moment is the little moment of confusion and slight laughter at about 3:03.

Download: CBS Film Services - "Stars in Action", Main and End Titles


Next up, more Beautiful Music. Last month's posting of some vintage elevator music programming got a few responses, and by chance, I happened across another tape of the same sort of thing a few days after posting that segment. In this case, it's from a then-hugely popular station, WCLR here in Chicago, which sometimes called itself "W-Clear". This reel - both sides of a 1200 foot tape are heard - seems to be from the very earliest days of January, 1972, based on a few of the references to college football and the business stories of 1971, among other things. The most interesting parts of this for me are the breaks for commercials and business (and other) news. There is a brief break at the change of tape sides, and at least one other spot where the person recording this material turned the machine off and back on again, missing a short bit of the broadcast.

Download: WCLR, Chicago - Beautiful Music Circa January, 1972, Side One

Download: WCLR, Chicago - Beautiful Music Circa January, 1972, Side Two


And finally, it's time to enjoy another of my myriad "Very Short Reels". Here's a 1998 ad for Ed Schmidt's Used Car Superstore, in Perryburg, Ohio, an ad titled "Regional Used Car Selloff". This aired on station WBUZ, which was a station in nearby (and tiny) Delta, Ohio at the time.

Download: Ed Schmidt - Regional Used Car Selloff

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Four Disparate Radio Tapes

Today, as indicated above, I have three recordings made of - and one made for - radio broadcasts. But first, a few bits of business:

First up: It was earlier last year that I discovered that a podcast had used one of my most ridiculous songs - titled "A Sailing Milk Moustache" - as the introductory music for their year-end show. I reached out to the person behind the podcast, and, after quite a bit of conversation, ended up doing a lengthy interview with him for one of his episodes, all about my history, in terms of my collecting and, particularly, my humorous songs. I was then invited to be a part of this year's New Year's Eve/New Year's Day special.

Interestingly, the show's general theme is (this is from their website):  "A podcast and Website dedicated to understanding the world in which we live from a Christian worldview perspective", although nothing remotely in that area came up in the two shows I was part of.

My interview can be found here, and the New Year show - which I am only part of sporadically, can be heard here.


And second, I am indebted to Tony, who recently posted with regard to my recent 1949/1951 home recording post, that, having discerned a reference to Time for Beany, it was clear that this family resided in the Los Angeles area, as that puppet show was a local phenomenon at the time. Thanks!

As a side note, I would encourage everyone reading to find some early Time for Beany, the episodes with Stan Freberg and Daws Butler basically (I believe) improvising the show. There are episodes available in various formats, including youtube, It's among the funniest stuff I've ever seen.


So, on with the countdown!

The most interesting of today's four offerings is probably this mish-mash of recordings off of Chicago radio. It lasts just over 37 minutes, and as far as I can tell, it's all from the AM band, with the exception of a few brief moments of home conversation, made over the earlier radio recordings. The dominant station here is broadcasting an appearance by Governor George Wallace, one of his first appearances after his assassination attempt, at the time of the Democratic Convention, which places this recording definitively in July of 1972. Whoever was recording this day flips back to this news coverage multiple times, and it makes up a good portion of the recording. Bernard Shaw, later to become very well known on CNN, is among the reporters heard. Other stations are heard only momentarily, such as the one playing an Eagles record, and still others are heard for too long for my taste, particularly a bit of religious blather which is fairly far outside my own ideas about faith.

All in all, a neat little time capsule.

Download: Chicago AM Radio, July 1972

Moving back in time 14 years, here is an 1958 episode of a 15 minute show, produced by the Archdiocese of Chicago, and titled "The Catholic View". This show dates to a point in time when a local Cardinal, Samuel Stritch by name, received a deep honor from the Pope and the Vatican, and departed Chicago with great fanfare, to fulfill his new role, only to encounter unexpected tragedy along the way. I have found at least three tapes (perhaps all from the same collection) recorded at different points in this saga, and this one does not complete the story. If I can find one or both of the others, I will share it next time. The whole thing sounds like something out of a medical drama or even The Twilight Zone, so sudden and severe and unlikely are the highs and lows this man experienced. If you want to get "the rest of the story" a bit faster, you can read a very brief explanation of it at the end of his Wikipedia page, and after that, you can wonder what he might have thought about his niece, Elaine Stritch

Download: The Catholic View, May 1958 - Pray for Cardinal Stritch


Next up, I'll offer a bit of explanation. Quite some time ago, I offered up an ad that I found in the midst of a tape of a "Beautiful Music" station, and mentioned that this is where it came from. Someone asked me to post that full segment, commenting that there is very little record of what "Beautiful Music" stations sounded like. Well, I couldn't find that tape - I may well have sold it. I often bundle together tapes which don't have anything interesting (to me) on them and sell them on eBay. But I've found a segment of another station, WBNS in Columbus, Ohio, complete with drab music and equally drab sponsors.

This segment is about 64 minutes long. I believe it's possible that the last 18 minutes are NOT from a radio broadcast, but rather, are all tracks from the same album. There is a sound (at 45:50) which might be a recorder being switched off or back on at that point, and the next song fades in. The final few tracks sound like they could all be from the same album. But I'm certainly not sure.

If anyone wants to hear more of this sort of material, I can post it as I come across it.

Download: WBNS, Columbus, Ohio - Beautiful Music Programming


Finally, as part of the ongoing "Very Short Reels" feature, here's the next one I pulled out of the stack. It's a simple, 30 second ad for a Disney film that I don't remember ever even knowing existed, "Atlantis: The Lost Empire". That's odd, actually, because in 2001, my girls were 10 and 8 that summer, and likely at least on the fringe of the audience for this film. Or maybe I was just that dedicated to not having to hear "Come Sail Away".

Download: Walt Disney's "Atlantis" - Radio Ad

It's worth noting that this commercial has to date to the very last point in time that ads were still being provided to radio stations on reel to reel tape. I'm amazed that this was still a thing in 2001.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Recordings from the Very Dawn of Home Reel to Reel Recorders

Howdy, everyone, and a very happy (upcoming or otherwise) New Year to you and yours! Be sure to go all the way to the bottom of this post before leaving to see my family's unique Christmas Card.

I'm going to ask your indulgence today, as I seriously geek about a tape that I recently bought. Maybe this will hold the same fascination for you, maybe not, but this tape is as rare as they come. I'm going to go on at length, so I hope you'll allow me this geekiness. Let me explain:

As I've written about multiple times elsewhere, part of my fascination with reel to reel tapes and recordings began with my own family's recordings, which went back to 1952 (I was born in 1960), and the behemoth tape recorder on which they were recorded. No one else I knew, when I was growing up, had recordings of any sort that captured their family life, or the things they liked to listen to, from the 1950's. And until this month, my family's first recording, from December of 1952, was the oldest home/family reel recording I'd ever heard, from anyone.

Not anymore. I just purchased a small set of reels, among which were included a set of paper reels (that is, magnetic tape backed by paper, rather than some type of plastic, a format which was phased out at least by 1952), some of which contain home recordings. And the first tape I played from this collection contains recordings which are audibly (and confirmed by the writing on the box) dated to Labor Day of 1949, just over 70 years ago.

I can't imagine how much a reel tape machine cost (in 2019 dollars), in the late 1940's. Recall the initial price for VCRs, and for CD players (and CDs) when those formats were new. I know the first CD I bought cost nearly $30, and some of the players cost a thousand dollars in the early days. Such is the price of new technology. And this family's machine had to have been bought by the summer of 1949. Three years later, in 1952, when my father bought a used studio model, the "new" price for the model he bought was $400, about $4000 in today's dollars. (Dad really must have really wanted the new technology, since he was a relatively new husband and father just starting out on his life's work at the time.) I suspect that in 1949, the cost was even steeper.

Virtually no one outside of the Nazis (who invented reel tape technology) and the American companies (which "borrowed" and studied the technology after the Allies brought it home, for the first few years after the war) knew anything about this technology before 1948.

I recall that the great folk and blues singer Lead Belly, during what became known as his "Last Sessions", recorded in the late fall of 1948, can be heard asking if they don't have to break after five minutes of recording - an artist who had spent much of the decade in various recording studios had never seen a reel tape machine before 1948, and expected to have to stop after every song for a change of disk. The notes to the album refer to the machine used as having been "experimental".

And I also recall that it wasn't until 1949 that Les Paul acquired his first reel to reel machine, and proceeded to revolutionize recording, inventing effects and procedures and making some of the best records ever made in the process.

So this family acquired a reel to reel machine roughly the same time, or a few months after Les Paul began fiddling with his Ampex machine.

Just to clarify, I'm sure that plenty of radio stations, recording studios and, of course, the reel to reel manufacturers had plenty of these machines by 1949. And I have a handful of reels from that era which contain radio broadcasts and records. But nothing from a family's living room.

I would venture a guess that no one else in this family's town, city, county or general region had one of these. To take it a step further (and perhaps I'm underestimating here), I would guess that, in the summer of 1949, the number of private citizens that had a reel to reel machine in the home was numbered in the dozens or hundreds. But this family had one. And I have their tapes.

They are not, I will hasten to add, all that much fascinating as hunks of recording. The first part of the tape has some very dull popular and religious music, and the family sections are bland enough that, were it not for the age of the recordings, I probably wouldn't have considered sharing them. And yet.... wow. Just wow. 1949.

Okay, so what exactly does this thing sound like? Well, here's that opening section, containing just untder nine minutes of the music I just mentioned:

Download: Various Artists - Variety Music

And here's the meat of the recording - a family with small children, encouraging them to talk - say prayers, say their names, say other things, etc., first on Labor Day, 1949, and then once again, two years later, on October 3rd, 1951. This section runs 23 minutes, and contains a couple of minutes of some more music at the end, which I didn't feel like separating out. I do get a kick out of the fact that the children's prayers, clearly recited on a regular basis, include a wish for such folks as The Easter Bunny, but otherwise, this is garden variety home recording stuff. except, again, 1949. If these children are still around, they're probably in their mid 70's now:

Download: Unknown Family - 1949 & 1951 Recordings

(Incidentally, as an aside for those who are as geeky as me about this - these 1949 tapes (there is also another one, containing nothing but bland music) are recorded in a fashion that must have been phased out VERY quickly, as they are only the second and third tapes I've ever played which are recorded this way. Rather than whole track mono (where the entire track is used going one direction, very common in the early days), or half track mono (where one half of the tape is recorded on going one direction, the other half recorded on when you flip the tape over - the typical "mono" recorder style of the 1950's and later), the tapes I'm referring two are recorded on half the track, but right down the middle of the tape, leaving the outside quarter on either side blank. On my stereo machine, the recording comes in on the right channel on both sides. Those who understand reel tape recording will follow me, and I'm wondering if any fellow geeks are familiar with this recorder style - it would have used only half the available space, but also only allowed you to record on one side. Very peculiar and unusual.)


For those of you who didn't find that scintillating, I have a sort of sequel to a post I made back in March of 2018, from a network radio series called "The American School of the Air". That posting featured a rather exploitative play-let about a cad trying to take advantage of a young woman, followed by a remarkably (for its day) frank discussion about sex ed. That program was from the subset of episodes of the series called "Opinion Please". I have a stack of tapes from this show.

Today's tape comes from the subset of episodes called "Tales of Adventure", although I don't find it remotely adventurous, and I have a hard time understanding exactly what was supposed to be educational here - it was, after all, "The American School of the Air". The play this time is called "This Football", and if there is a message, it seems to be, "don't use derogatory names to insult older first generation Italians who have no idea how to be a supportive parent". However, even though there is a plot point involving an insult, nothing is really done about it as far as using this event as a teaching tool, within or outside of the play. In fact, this is more of a soap opera than anything educational.

Please enjoy "This Football":

Download: The American School of the Air - This Football (From "Tales of Adventure")


Next, here's the latest tape I pulled from the stack of "Very Short Reels". In this case, it is a pair of 30 second ads for Dairy Queen. The box it was housed in is scanned below the sound files, but the writing on the box, which is for a 60 second commercial, doesn't match the contents of the reel. And someone has also screwed up the second commercial, as you'll hear less than a second into it.

Download: Dairy Queen - Two 30-Second Ads

And finally, as promised, and few days late, here is my family's Christmas Card. Just so you know, for most of the last several years, my family has been using the Christmas Card concept as a jumping off point for a bit of performance art. Each of us has supplied ideas in the past - this was was mine. There's a lot going on here... I'm in the middle, with my adult kids on either side of me and my wife on the far left. On the right is my daughter's boyfriend.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Christmas, 1974

Good tidings and a Merry, Happy whatever you're having to all!

One year ago tomorrow, I shared a tape of The Wessel Family celebrating Christmas in 1973, and as a teaser, mentioned that there was a 1974 recording on the flip side of the same tape. Today, I am sharing that tape. The text I wrote last year fits nicely again here, except that I've changed the length of last year's feature (106 minutes) to the even longer duration indicated below, and edited it a bit. Here's what I wrote:

Today's feature, advertised in the name of this post, is simply a recording of a family's Christmas celebration, complete with stockings, gifts and greeting cards, recorded on Christmas, in 1974. For those with a sentimental side, there are multiple sweet moments here, and for those who simply enjoy the "Fly On the Wall" nature of some of the home recorded tapes I've provided over the years - this is a goldmine. It is, however, very lengthy, running the length of many major motion pictures (126 minutes). So sit back, relax and enjoy the Christmas celebration of the Wessel family.

Download: The Wessel Family - Christmas, 1974

And now, dessert. In keeping with the ongoing "very short tapes" project, here is another one pulled at random from the stack. It's an ad for Arkansas Western Gas, titled "Anti-Heat Pump", and its from the fall of 1993:

Download: Arkansas Western gas - Anti-Heat Pump Ad

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Earl Godwin, Fizzola Cola and a Vintage Radio Promo Presentation


Last time around, I acknowledged that I had goofed a bit in trying to stay chronological in my presentation of Scotch Brand Tape boxes. Specifically, I quickly realized that I had skipped over two relatively brief designs in indicating that Scotch went from the iconic grey-reel-on-black-background box straight into the good-enough-to-use-to-record-an-orchestra box.

I do believe that the latter box was still from the early '60's, for the reasons I outlined in that second post I just linked, but there were two designs that pre-date it, that also came during the period that my family was not buying new tapes, and again, like the orchestra box, I never saw this design until I began collecting other people's tapes.

This box trumpets the fact that, like maybe tape manufacturers in the late 1950's, Scotch was now selling 1800 foot reels, a 50 % improvement in terms of the length of taping tape available - regardless of the speed used - over the previous industry standard of 1200 feet. It keeps the grey-ish tape motif and the general black background, but also has two (very late '50's-ish) clock images and the phrase "extra play". It's a busy image and one that I find very appealing.

And now on to the first of four items I'm sharing today. And forgive my long road trip to get there. I hope its interesting.

I picked this first item because it came up in conversation this week, with some of the children I work with at my church, and I realized with some surprise that I'd never even mentioned this to my own kids, who are now in their late 20's. I'm not even sure any of my friends have ever heard it.

Part of the conversation with these church kids (ages 12-16) included their reference to everyone having to take music theory at the local high school. That struck me as odd.

I commented that at my high school, only those who believed they would be pursuing a career in music took music theory. And, since I had thought that this was where I would be heading (when I was 14, anyway), that I had signed up for Music Theory as part of my Freshman class load - but that there were only about 15 of us in the class. No one had to take it, and no one outside of the 15 of us did. I was encouraged to sign up as a freshman by the teacher of the class, who knew my family (he also thought a music career was in my future). Everyone else in the class was a Junior or Senior, all of them quite focused on careers in music.

The final project, that following spring, was to create a product and write (meaning, submit the sheet music) and record a commercial for the product, using at least one change in tempo or style (I'm sure there were other things we had to include, as well). My product was "Fizzola Cola". As I've mentioned here from time to time, my mother was a professional (and coloratura) classical soprano, so she sang on the commercial. I sang as well, and played the piano.

Here is that ad. The volume at various points is not perfect (the conversation at the start is way too soft, for one thing), and the tape has worn out somewhat in the ensuing 44 years, but it's still worth a listen, I think, and I hope you enjoy it.

Download: Bob and Mary Fran Purse - "Fizzola Cola" Ad

P.S.: I took the second year of Music Theory as a Senior, still believing at that point that I might pursue a music career. Aside from playing trombone in a pit orchestra for one show, being in a few bands for a short amount of time, and working a few times as a folk singer for children, I never actually did anything that looked like someone who was pursuing a music career. But those two classes made a world of difference for me as a musician and songwriter, even if those things turned out to be solely avocations.


As long as I've focused on my family, I thought I'd also include something I came across a while ago that I had no expectation of finding - a recording of my maternal grandfather in one of his radio broadcasts. Earl Godwin was known as the "Dean of Broadcasters", and was part of the crew that would crowd around President Franklin Roosevelt's desk for press conferences - actually getting to sit next to the president because he was so tall when he stood that the other reporters complained.

He worked for NBC's "Blue" network and remained with the network when it became ABC. I never got to know him, as he died a few years before I was born, and had only heard his voice on one recording, an acetate we owned of a radio tribute to him, on his 75th birthday.

So here I was, listening to a tape I had bought, the earliest one (of several) featuring vintage recordings of day-by-day radio broadcast summaries of the goings-on at the Army-McCarthy hearings, when the announcer introduced commentary from Earl Godwin.

Here is that broadcast:

Download: Earl Godwin - Comments on the Army-McCarthy Hearings


Staying on the theme of radio (and the 1950's), here's a vintage (1953) promotional piece from CBS radio - a commercial sales presentation. I'd venture a guess to say that the vocal insert at 8:34 was not intended to be part of the presentation.

Download: CBS Radio - A 1953 CBS Radio Commercial Sales Presentation


And finally, as promised each post nowadays, I have again grabbed a "very short reel" at random and will offer it up here. This one takes a bit of explanation, as it appears this length of tape was used three times, with each new use erasing part of the previous use. Advertised on the box (see below), is the final use, a painfully shlocky white-rap tribute to Webber's Transmission, from 1997, which has to be heard to believed. After that's over, we hear most of what was being erased, a commercial for a then-upcoming "Bride and Groom" show. Finally, in the last few seconds of tape after that partial ad, we hear an announcer guaranteeing our satisfaction, with regard to.... something. All in 108 seconds.

Download: Noble Broadcast of Toledo - Webber's Transmission, Bride and Groom Show, Satisfaction Guaranteed