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: 

~~

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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Saturday, February 17, 2024

Meet the Beatles! Plus More Beautiful Music, Doing the Dishes, Flood Talk, Webb Pierce, Flex-O-Matic, A Father's Gift, A Banking Milestone and A Few Minutes with Dana

Good day, ya'll, 

A quick thank you - once again - to Eric Paddon, who has again supplied a bit of detail to one of my posts. In this case, he has shared that the "Sunday in New York" program that I shared a few episodes from last time around

ran on WCBS Radio weekly from January 10, 1959 to July 19, 1959 per NY newspaper listings. Jordan hosted other programs at the station too and was one of their prominent personalities. WCBS was known as a "middle of the road" station until it became all-news in 1967.

~~

We're going to start with something that could not be more timely, given that it has been exactly 60 years this month since The Beatles arrived in America to play the Ed Sullivan Show, appear at Carnegie Hall and at the Washington Coliseum, and take the nation by storm. Oddly, I saw nothing in any media this week or this month marking this anniversary - previous "Big" year anniversaries of this arrival have been all over the news and entertainment programs. 

And here, to commemorate the events of that week, is a real audio time capsule, a radio program that must have been put together on the fly. It aired on New York powerhouse Top 40 station WINS-AM. Since it had only been clear that The Beatles were going to be "a thing" for a few weeks at that point, this program had to have been cobbled together in a matter of days, as it clearly aired within the first few days of The Beatles' arrival. From the sounds of what is said here, it would appear that this special aired before the Beatles had played a live show anywhere but perhaps on The Ed Sullivan Show, if that. 

The entire show is not captured here, and I'm not sure how much was missed. When the tape starts, the program is already in progress. The documentary then is heard throughout the first side of the tape, about 26 minutes of it. There is a short gap at that point, then you hear the concluding few minutes from the other side. 

The documentary includes interviews with the band members, a piece featuring some American musicians' reactions and thoughts about the group, interviews with fans, a bit of history of the group, interviews with people who give their input as to why the group is so popular, etc. A couple of the band's early songs are heard. The narrator of the show is Murray the K. The show (as was the bands' first Capitol album) is called "Meet the Beatles"

Enjoy!

Download: "Meet the Beatles" - A WINS Radio Special, February, 1964

Play: 

~~

Now, as much as I suspect that will greatly appeal to a lot of people, here is another type of radio broadcast that I have been requested to share, whenever I come across it. The appeal here is more of a mystery to me, but I really strive to offer up what people want to hear. And so, here is a 30 minute slice of some Beautiful Music programming (containing a few items I was surprised to hear amongst such programming) from a station, WFMB, in Springfield, IL. The recording cuts off just before some news is about to start, so there is no way to date this particular segment. 

Download: WFMB, Springfield IL - Beautiful Music Programming

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~~

Almost exactly five years ago, I featured a recording session for a product called the Cannon Flex-O-Matic. And now, here we have eight of the completed ads for that same product. 

Download: Eight Completed Ads for the Cannon Flex-O-Matic

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~~

Now, here's a short home recording that is best summed up by its title, "A Few Minutes with Dana": 

Download: A Few Minutes with Dana

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~~

Next, here's an episode of "The Webb Pierce Show", featuring the country star and his guests in a half hour or so of music. There were actually two TV shows by that name, both apparently produced at WSIX, Nashville, about a decade apart. There's some really great stuff here. The songs performed here, as well as the presence here of the start of "Stop the Music", a game show which aired in the mid 1950's, proves that this recording is from the 1955 edition of the show, rather than 1965 version. 

Download: The Webb Pierce Show (and a Bit of Stop the Music)

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~~

Just up there a li'l bit, about 90 words or so ago, we had a short home recording with Dana. Now, here's another one, a brief (six minute) slice of life with a woman (identified early on as Marge Miller) and (presumably) her husband, as dishes are washed and a bit of homey conversation is engaged in. 

Download: Dishes and Conversation with Marge Miller and Her Husband

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~~

With flooding out west in the news in recent weeks, here's a tape from 1955 featuring Senator Prescott Bush, patriarch of a political family you may be familiar with, being interviewed about flooding that was being told "The worst disaster to ever hit the state of Connecticut".

Download: Senator Prescott Bush Interview About the Flooding in Connecticut, 1955

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~~

And now it's time for our "Acetate of the Month". And this takes a bit of explanation. In 1973, my mother and I visited her oldest brother, Harry Godwin, at his home in Memphis. I've written a bit about Harry before, but he was a larger than life figure, who, being nearly a generation older than my mother (17 years older), fashioned himself in more of a grandfather role to me than an uncle (particularly as I had never known either of my grandparents. 

(That Wikipedia stub overstates his musical career a bit - he was, first and foremost, a manufacturer's rep, and only began working in music - as a lyricist and as a jazz promoter -  in his late forties. I believe it also gets his birthday wrong.)

During that visit, which perhaps I will write about elsewhere someday, I was delighted to find a drawer full of homemade acetates, mostly the five and seven inch variety, which Harry and his children had made in the 1940's and 1950's. Harry allowed me to tape record them for my posterity, during that visit, and so I did so, introducing each of them myself with a tiny be of explanation

And so, we have a hybrid here - a reel to reel tape of an acetate. In this case, as you'll hear, Harry tells a familiar story for his younger children (he had six kids from two marriages) on one side, then dedicates a short Robert Louis Stevenson poem to one of those children on the other side. 

Download: Harry Godwin - The Three Little Pigs and The Lamplighter

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~~

And finally, a "Very Short Reel". Here's an ad celebrating 60 years of banking in northern Arkansas. 

Download: First Federal, Arkansas, 60th Anniversary Ad, 1994

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Wednesday, January 31, 2024

PAMS Magic, Fooling Around, Some Right Wing Fun, Sunday in New York, More BBC Stories, Dulcimer Magic, and Everybody Likes It!

Okay, so who is ready for more than three hours more of reel to reel wonderment? And I promise no long-winded self-referential observations this time. 

But first, I want to yet again thank Eric Paddon for filling in the gaps in the information about television recordings, as he has done so many times. I'm not going to copy and paste here, but if you enjoyed the games shows that I posted last time, I encourage you to go back to that posting and look at the two comments he left. Thanks!!!

~~

Let's start with the tape I believe will be the most popular for today's posting, as it ties into top forty radio and features the absolute masters of the Jingle World therein, the PAMS company of Texas. Here is their presentation for "series 44", from the mid 1970's, complete with a sales pitch and then, at the end, an example of every jingle the purchasing station would receive (redone with their own call letters, frequency and/or slogans, of course). Great stuff!

Download: PAMS Sales Pitch for Series 44

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~~

From the sublime to the ridiculous. Here is a tape of a few young pals cracking jokes, playing off each other and generally goofing around. Oddly, their recording is interrupted twice by some other person recording microphone checks, and, following the second round of tests, recording a few moments of the radio. The tape ends with some truly annoying sounds. All in the space of less than ten minutes. 

Download: A Group of Guys Fooling Around (Interrupted  By Some Microphone Testing and Radio)

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~~

At some point, probably many years ago now, I bought what turned out to be a stack of tapes (and two books) containing various recordings (and two books) generated by The John Birch Society. For those of you unfamiliar with this particular brand of American insanity, happy reading. Suffice it to say that even William F. Buckley and the ultra-conservative National Review thought they were wackos. I may share other recordings from these tapes, as I get to them, but for now, here is a short radio program, dated 1967 (see below) on the side of the box, titled "Are You Listening, Uncle Sam?". It looks like this is a single episode of a series by that title rather than a stand-alone presentation. Whoever captured these opinions and edited then into this presentation certainly wanted to present Birchers as reasonable people who were alarmed by things happening in the government of the day, but behind the scenes, the larger group's believes, desires and plans were off-the-charts batshit crazy.  

By the way, rather hilariously, this episode is labeled on the side of the box with a homonym error, calling it "Roll of Government", which I think is something they serve at Washington, D.C. breakfast joints. Anyway, I suggest not trusting your political views to people who couldn't pass a fourth grade spelling test. 

Download: The John Birch Society - Are You Listening, Uncle Sam?

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~~

Here's something much more pleasant. This tape contains a few episodes of a show called "Sunday in New York", from what appears to be early 1959, based on the reference to the New York premiere of  Sammy Davis Jr's first starring film, and a few other things which are said. For the most part, these segments contain singer and actress Portia Nelson performing songs, and chatting briefly with Lee Jordan. However, some of the episodes also had a DJ aspect to them, in which the Portia and Lee chat about a performer and then play a record by that singer. I wonder when the last time such a program - with live, in the studio music of this sort (mixed in with records) was a regular feature on any radio station in the country. 

Download: Portia Nelson and Lee Jordan - 'Sunday In New York', 1959

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~~

Five months ago, I shared a lengthy recording of an English author named Antony Bilbow, reading his story on the BBC. I mentioned that I had three more sets of readings on the same tape, and asked if anyone wanted to hear more. I did get one request for more, and based on the time-worn theory that if you receive one comment, there are several more people who in agreement, here is the second of the four recordings of BBC broadcasts of Antony Bilbow, reading his stories: 

Download: Antony Bilbow - Stories on English Radio, Volume 2

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~~

When I was a regular contributor to the late great Beware of the Blog (find the last of those posts here - that post contains links to the previous ones - I also posted an additional one on this site about 18 months ago), I posted a series of tapes made by an army doctor who was living in Korea following the war there, during the mid 1950's. I recently found that I still had some previously unlistened to tapes from that collection, including the following interesting item. This is not one of his audio letters. It is, instead, a recording he made of a big band jazz concert given by a group of Filipinos from the Second Battalion Team, at a location in Yong Dong Po, Korea, in August of 1954. I think that's all there needs to be said. The music is self-explanatory, and his introduction does the rest. 

Download: The Second Battalion Team Filipino Orchestra, Live in Yong Dong Po, Korea, 8-8-54

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~~

And now for our "Acetate of the Month". One side of it looks like this: 


Both sides feature someone playing the dulcimer. I am sure I've butchered his or her name, but it looks like "Dr. Bluice" to me. Maybe someone can correct me, as a search for that name turns up nothing - not a single hit. Anyway, one side is recorded at 33 RPM and features Slavic (or, as it says here, Slavik Folk Songs. 

Download: Dr. Bluice Plays Dulcimer - Slavic Folk Songs (33 RPM Side)

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The other side is recorded at 78 RPM, and features a tune with a name written on the label which I have not tried to decipher (it's pictured below). Again, maybe someone out there can be of assistance. 

Download: Dr. Bluice - Dulcimer Music - 11-28-53 (78 RPM Side)

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~~

And finally, our "Very Short Reel". And this time, that phrase is a total misrepresentation, but I want to share this 30 seconds of gold. For this is not the entire contents of a short reel of tape. This is an excerpt from a tape of more than three hours. But again, I really want to share it. 

Here's a bit of backstory: In the early '70's, Diet Rite Cola introduced a new jingle, with the sales pitch being that "Everybody Likes It" (not even those who feel a need to diet). After the jingle had been in the ether for long enough for all TV viewers to be familiar with it, the ad company went around and filmed everyday people doing everyday things, while singing the jingle. Then they edited small excerpts from each of these into commercials in which the jingle was sung by six or more different people. I was very happy to find one of these on Youtube not long ago, and you can see that one here (for some reason, it starts a second time and then is shown in chopped up form). I'm particularly partial to the girl kicking her legs on the bed and the guy in the hard hat with a ridiculous scratchy voice. 

But there was one version of this commercial that I simply loved, at the time. All these years later, I could still hear the woman with an English accent near the end, and several of the singers who are just a bit off key throughout. So I was overjoyed to find a recording of just that commercial on a reel of tape which otherwise captured a TV broadcast of a "Movie of the Week". And now I'm sharing it with you. 

Download: Diet Rite Cola - "Everybody Likes It" Ad

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Monday, January 15, 2024

The Game Shows of Election Day, 1974

Happy New Year!

I have something really fun today, a collection I'm hoping will help many of you to smile during these short, cold days. 

A bit of housekeeping, first. With regard to the British Radio Potpourri that I shared a few months ago, I received the following from a reader/listener named Adam: 

Comparing the BBC tape with the Radio Times listings on BBC Genome, the first programme is "Sound for the Movies", broadcast at 21:30 on 27th September 1961. The second is "Anniversary Portrait" from 21:00 on 6th February 1962. "Conference" was on Thursday nights throughout this period, but the listings don't give enough detail to identify the episode.

And in response to my posting the heartbreakingly short clip of the 1952 Rose Bowl game, a reader/listener named Kyle has linked me to the following clip containing the video and audio of the first half of that game, which can be found here

Many thanks to both of you!

~~

I have been digitizing my family's tapes for years now, with a recent focus on those tapes which belonged to me and which I filled up with whatever stoked my interest at the moment. Often, this was me and my friends being stupid, but every now and then there is gold, whether it's a recording of me pretending I'm hosting an art show, or a recording of children's television programming and game shows from 1970 and 1971, both of which I've shared at those links. 

Today, from a tape I recorded in 1973 and 1974 comes the entire second side of that tape, capturing (at 1 7/8 IPS, nearly an entire morning's worth of network Game Shows. Specifically, the date of this recording was Election Day, November 5, 1974. 

Listening to this tape, specifically the short introduction I give prior to the end of the first show taped, I found myself reflecting a lot on where I was, in November, 1974. It was a pivotal moment for me, even if I would have had no idea of that, at the time. I'm going to be a bit of a memoirist here for a few paragraphs, so if that's not of interest to you, by all means jump down to the squiggle and skip my (perhaps   definitely self-indulgent) ramblings. This tape captures a moment in my life when I was about to start on the road to becoming the adult I was going to be, and didn't know it. It's stirred up 49 years of feelings in my somehow, and I hope at least a few of you will take this ride with me. 

In November of 1974, I was 14 years old, and several weeks in Freshman year of High School, but was still much more of a child than an adolescent. I had spent a miserable time in 7th and 8th grade at the bottom of the pecking order, with brief relief having come in the class show near the end of 8th grade, where I both played in the band and had a starring role in one of the sketches. I had made some new friends during a summer school jazz band class, and the subsequent fall band classes (I played trombone), but only saw them at school at that point. 

Rather than engage more with new friends, I was sort of wallowing (albeit with a purpose) in thoughts of my old friends. All of the kids who lived on my block in my grade school years - all but one of whom had moved out of state years earlier - had had a big reunion that previous August. I was missing them terribly, and was hard at work editing together all of the 8 millimeter films my mother had taken of the gang of our street into a presentation I called "Remember When", which I showed to everyone in the neighborhood (complete with a musical soundtrack) that Thanksgiving (see, even then, I was dedicated to memorializing the past). 

The first side of the tape heard below contains a typical recording of me goofing around with my best friend John - who had been my best friend since age 3, and the only one who hadn't moved away. This recording is pointless in the extreme, containing the two of us insulting each other, making fart noises and singing an improvised song about burps, in between which I demonstrated my burgeoning abilities on piano (I hadn't had lessons since age 10, at that point). 

Anyway, in November of 1974, I was wallowing in loss, shell-shocked from middle school, working on a tribute to my own past, and engaging in aggressively dumb stuff with my childhood pal. Almost immediately after this, everything began to change. 

In early 1975, I begged to take piano lessons again, promising to practice this time, and this was granted. My piano abilities grow by leaps and bounds. I began hanging around more often with those new high school friends. John and I mutually discovered that, as adolescents, we had very little in common - in fact, I'd say that since I turned 15, I've probably seen John less than two dozen times, and not at all since I was 22. By a year after this tape was made, I was fully engaged with learning new and complex piano pieces, heavily into playing and listening to Jazz, and for the first time, was hopelessly and unrequitedly in love (ah, Sharon....). I was mere weeks away from reconnecting with a friend I'd known at church when I was 11 or 12, a guy named Andy, who would quickly go on to be my first musical partner and, for the rest of the 1970's, my closest friend. 

My life in November of 1973 probably pretty dang closely resembled my life in November of 1974 (with the exception of working on those film clips). But my life in November of 1974 was just about to be turned upside down and did not in any way resemble what it became in late 1975. If a picture is worth a thousand words, these two pictures are worth much more than twice that. Not too long ago, I posted a picture of myself at age almost 13, looking quite a bit more than a little overwhelmed by life. 

Here, now is how I looked in my official Eighth Grade Photo, looking like a deer in the headlights, and absolutely showing the effect of two years of bullying. 


Here, by contrast, is the happy-go-lucky kid I was by a year later. This picture is a bit later than that, and is low quality (as it's scanned from a class photo, rather than an individual shot), but it still tells the story. 
 

I have no idea if that was interesting or not, but listening to this tape took me down that rabbit hole of memories, so I thought I'd write about it. Many thanks to all of those of you who traveled down this long and winding road with me just now. 

~~

Okay, catching up with all of those who skipped all that stuff. 

This tape contains the game shows I chose to watch and record on November 5th, 1974. It was a golden age of daytime network television, when it was clogged up with gab fests, court shows, outrage panderers and local programming. The morning lineup was DOMINATED by Game Shows. Fun, varied, interesting game shows. Hosted by people who actually knew that the game was the star, not by movie and TV stars slumming and making the entire endeavor about them. And I wish it was still that way - both that game shows were on all morning and that they were hosted by actual game show hosts. 

I did not capture the shows intact - there are edits in all of these shows. Mostly, commercials were skipped, sometimes they are there. Sometimes, the recording simply stops in the midst of a question or answer, and picks up at a later point, or that cut segues into the next show. At times, you hear me talking or making noise, and my mother arrives home at some point and fixes me lunch - you can hear her say at one point that she hopes I am hungry because the hamburgers are big. 

If you'd like to see a grid of what was on American network television that day, you can find it here

The tape begins with the announcement of the date and that I am sick. I go on to tell where everyone is - my use of "Mommy, Daddy and Billy" was either because I was being silly or a bit of regression due to not feeling well. I hadn't been calling them by those diminutives in several years at that point. Oh, and here's the cat you'll hear meowing during that introduction. She was the prettiest and best kitty cat ever. 


By the time I started recording, "Name That Tune" (on NBC) was almost over. 

Download: 1.) Introduction and the End of Name That Tune

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I pre-announce the next show as "High Rollers", but it's actually "Winning Streak", also on NBC and starring the far-and-away best game show host in history, the phenomenal Bill Cullen

Download: 2.) Winning Streak

Play:

Next, I jumped over to CBS for "Now You See It". 

Download: 3.) Now You See It

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The perennial favorite "The Hollywood Squares" followed. We're back on NBC and it's 10:30 Eastern Time now. 

Download: 4.) Hollywood Squares

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Again sticking with NBC, it was then time for "Jackpot"

Download: 5.) Jackpot

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Still with NBC, the most peculiar game show on this tape (to my ears, anyway, "Celebrity Sweepstakes" followed at 11:30 AM, running for only 25 minutes so as to make time for news. 

Download: 6.) Celebrity Sweepstakes

Play:

With that show having ended early, I switched over to ABC at 12:55 for the end of their show, "Split Second" (a show which is now rebooted on Game Show Network). When that was over, I switched over to local (unaffiliated) powerhouse station WGN and captured some commercials. 

Download: 7.) End of Split Second and Commercials

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With the last waning minutes of the tape, I captured the first few moments, and some later moments, of what was then the most popular show in Chicago television, Bozo's Circus

Download: 8.) Bozo's Circus

Play:

Well, that's the tape! I suspect that these are the only recordings of these particular episodes in existence, as most of these shows were erased with subsequent shows, that being the practice at the time. While a few episodes of each show (and more of Bozo) exist out there, it is unlikely that they are these particular episodes. 

~~

And it wouldn't be a complete post without a "Very Short Reel". Here are some folks struggling to sing "Scarlet Ribbons", a song which I've always found to be massively pretentious. It breaks down about half way through these 73 seconds of tape, and good riddance. 

Download: Unknown - Practicing "Scarlet Ribbons"

Play: 

Friday, December 29, 2023

New Year's Through and Through

Greetings, 

I hope everyone is having a lovely holiday season, whatever it is you celebrate or don't celebrate. I have a batch of recordings which all (except maybe one) have end of the year and/or beginning of the year theme. 

Here's hoping for a fabulous 2024. 

Whatever happens next year, though, it will happen without one of my favorite people in the world. Tommy Smothers died this week, and I want to just say a word or two here. That's because I think The Smothers Brothers - in addition to what they did for the expanding of boundries in television (and for letting Pete Seeger back on the air) - they were, in my opinion, one of the half dozen greatest comedy acts of the 20th century. I'm probably forgetting someone or some team, but I'd put them with Monty Python, The Marx Brothers, Shelley Berman, George Carlin and David Letterman and the staff of "Late Night" on that short list. 

And specifically for Tommy, I'd say that I'm not sure anyone ever had better comic timing or a more fully realized comic persona. And he was a hell of a guitar player, too, something that flew under the radar, but of which he was very proud. 

My favorite political site, Electoral-Vote.com has a nice write up about Tommy, saying far more than I want to here, and doing it better than could. 

Here are my two favorite Smothers Brothers tracks, both of which make my personal all-time favorite top 200 tracks ever recorded: Mediocre Fred and Crabs Walk Sideways.

Also, please keep reading after all of the new year related offerings below, as I am debuted my latest recording, a parody song I've been working on, off and on, for the last seven months or so. 

~~

Presumably, this first offering will be the most interesting to a good many of the people who are nice enough to frequent this site. It is a partial recording of the KFRC, 610 AM in San Francisco, broadcast of the top hits of 1967. This is far from the pristine (or complete) recording I'd wish it to be - the recording quality is relatively poor - noticeably bass heavy, despite some attempts at my end to rectify it, and it does not contain anywhere near the entire program, or even a single segment - it starts with # 92 and then, 103 minutes later, we hear the end of the number one song of the year. More songs were skipped than were heard. Still it's a piece of top 40 radio history, and that's worth something. 

Download: KFRC, San Francisco - The Top 100 of 1967 (Portions)

Play:


Incidentally, if you do a search for the gentlemen (and his home town) who stamped his name onto this tape box, you will find his obituary. It popped up as the first item found for me. He was 42 years old when he recorded this. I would have thought a fan of top 40 music in 1967 would have been half that age or less. 

~~

The next two files come from the same tape, and were recorded, first, as 1955 became 1956, and then again, a much longer segment featuring some of the same people, which appears to have been recorded sometime later on New Year's Day, 1956. I do not know anything more about this tape. In fact, I digitized this tape eleven months ago, and do not actually remember what happens during either segment. So we'll all be surprised. 

Download: At a New Year's Eve Party, 1955 into 1956

Play:

Download: A Group of Friends Goofing Around, Circa New Year's Day, 1956

Play:

~~

In my last post, I had what I called "A Post-Christmas Tape From Canada to Lenore and Her Family in Bermuda". Well, here is a sequal of sorts, another audio letter to Lenore. My labeling of these tapes is a bit confusing, or maybe not, based on the labeling of each. But whereas the other tape was labeled "from Canada to Lenore in Bermuda", this one is labeled "To Lenore from Family in Bermuda". A quick spot check of segments of the tape does indicate that this seems to be a tape to Lenore from a different group of people than are heard in the previous tape, and these people were definitely in Bermuda, apparently from a time before Lenora lived there, or between times that she lived there. What we probably have here are two tapes to the same person from two different groups of people. 

Regardless, just as the other tape was made after Christmas, this one was made a day or two after New Year's Day. 

Download: A Post New Year's Tape to Lenora From Family in Bermuda

Play:

~~

And here's a tape I've labeled simply "Party - Lynn and Gene", which is probably self explanatory. I don't know that this is from a New Year's Eve party - chances are it's not - but it still fits the theme of celebrations. 

Download: Party - Lynn and Gene

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And now for a Very Short Reel that I wish was longer. Although perhaps the longer version of this tape - and this segment - is readily available elsewhere, I don't know. It's a short moment from All American New Year's Day tradition. I was thrilled, a few years ago, to find a Scotch tape of the earliest design, labeled thus: 

Perhaps that's hard to read. It says Reel No. 1, Date 1-1-52, Stanford 7 - Illinois 40, Rose Bowl Game. Unfortunately, I found that nearly the entire reel had been erased with much less interesting material, leaving just 140 seconds of this football game broadcast recording. A real pity. Anyway, here it is. 

Download: The 1952 Rose Bowl Game - Short Fragment

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And now for something completely different. About six years ago, something inspired me - something insistent - to write a parody lyric for the song "Up Up and Away" by the Fifth Dimension. This is not even a record that I like - not when it came out when I was seven, and not now - and although I've written and recorded parodies in the past, all but one were of records that I love. Anyway, it wasn't until April of this year that I decided to make a track of my parody. 

Anyone my age or perhaps even 10-15 years younger will likely know the song this is based on, but for those who don't, the original can be found here

I decided along the way that I wanted my music track to sound as close to exactly like the original Fifth Dimension track as I could possibly get out of my Midi set-up, and I think I succeeded to the point that the track sounds like a Karaoke track. It is not - I built it from the ground up, instrument by instrument. I worked on it off and on, sometimes on weekends, mostly when I took days off from work. It took me over seven months! 

I am very happy with the final product.... except that I can't settle on which prospective title is better, the one that reflects the original song's title ("Come, Come in and Play") or the one which better reflects the text of the parody ("My Curio Filled Room"). Regardless, I hope you enjoy it, and would love to hear comments, including thoughts on the better title. 

Download: Bob Purse - My Curio Filled Room (AKA Come, Come In and Play)

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Sunday, December 17, 2023

Christmas Through and Through, Volume Two

Happy December, everyone, 

As I've done nearly every year since I started this project, the first post of December will be entirely Christmas related. I have four personal recordings from families or family members, and four recordings of professional presentations of Christmas material, and will go back and forth between the two. 

First up is a tape that just about defines family Christmastime. It is simply 42 minutes or so of "Fly-On-The-Wall" recording of a family enjoying the opening of presents and the joy of being together, recorded on Christmas in 1956, according to the tape box. 

(The last few seconds contain a musical performance which the Christmas recording had been erasing.)

Download: Unknown Family - Christmas, 1956

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A very different celebration of Christmas now, a professional and downright staid presentation, from the oh-so-serious and classical music oriented "Voice of Firestone", which started in the early days of radio, moved to television as one of the first regularly scheduled network shows (a very small network of stations) in 1943 (!) and lasted, in one form or another, into the 1960's. This is a recording of a TV broadcast from 1958. 

Download: Voice of Firestone, Christmas Special, December, 1958

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Next, here's an audio letter from an entire family, made at Christmastime. It last just over an hour, and a whole bunch of folks get to be chatty, sing if they want, and pass along everything you could imagine to the recipient of this tape. Imagine in the days before Zoom, even in the days before cheap long distance phone calls, getting this 62 minute tape from your loved ones far away, and getting to spend an unexpected hour with them. That's one of the (many) magical things about reel to reel tape. 

The opening moments are poorly recorded, but that gets fixed after 30 seconds. 

Download: A Christmastime Audio Letter from the Family

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Back to the professional musicians! And I thought this was pretty durn keen. "Sing It Again" was a BBC Radio show which, as far as I can tell, ran at least from some time in the early 1950's into the 1970's. There's no date on this Christmas episode, but it features some very effectively arranged songs, close to half of which I'd never heard before. The Cockney-flavored song that starts at about 5:25 is particularly fun. 

Download: "Sing It Again" - A BBC Christmas Presentation

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Here's another audio letter, in this case made on Christmas and on December 26th, from a family in Canada who was recording the tape for Lenore (or maybe it's Lenora - I hear her addressed both ways here) and her family (The Abbots) in Bermuda. The tape seems to have slowed to a stop a couple of times while it was being recorded. This is just another very sweet recording from another era.  

Download: A Post-Christmas Tape From Canada to Lenore and Her Family in Bermuda

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Here's just under 20 minutes of Chicago Radio programming, from an unknown date and station, which I thought was sort of cool. The music is just from records - although for the most part ones you don't hear much these days - but between the records there are a couple of local stories, a detailed one about the delivery of Christmas trees, and a brief one about roasted chestnuts

Download: Unknown Chicago Radio Station - Christmas Programming

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And this may be an all-Christmas post, but that doesn't mean we won't have an "Acetate of the Month". This one is Christmas related. Or at least, I assume it is, as it is labeled "Xmas, 1940", as you can see below. Its contents are downright disjointed, and I cannot make out any part of it which clearly has anything to do with Christmas. It does start with someone discussing what a dad might like - which could mean Christmas - but then it goes through a man praising for a child, that child speaking about a sporting event, then a mom speaks haltingly about stars (and then some organ music drowns him out). This is a pretty weird one. 

Download: Xmas, 1940 - Universal Acetate

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And finally, our "Very Short Reel" for this post. I'm stretching the concept a bit, as I usually define "very short" as being under five minutes. But I wanted to make this post "all Christmas", and the shortest Christmas related segment I currently have is just over seven minutes. This is a tape from The Simpsons of Springfield (!) to Larry and (I think) Paul. I actually find this tape more than a bit odd. 

After a personal greeting, almost the entire remainder of the tape seems to be a copy of a recording that the sender made off of a radio broadcast - some music, Christmas thoughts from two What follows the introduction seems to be a recording of a bit of a broadcast of some music, followed by some Christmas thoughts from two different people, then some music box music. Then the sender comes back in for a moment with Christmas wishes. 

For all the time it took this person to make and send a Christmas tape to his friends, the actual contents he chose to include seem oddly impersonal. Sort of like sending a Birthday card to someone and inserting into it a bunch of pictures of other people celebrating their birthdays, instead of inscribing it with your own personal thoughts, 

Download: Brief Tape of Christmas Greetings From the Simpsons

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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Vintage BBC Documentaries, The Return of Joe Gerossi, Unusual Sounds, Some Wild Piano, and Christmastime Is Here Again

Two posts in six days!!! Christmas must have come early! (And that's actually foreshadowing for this post....) 

I'll start with something off the beaten path. Here is everything that's contained on a reel of tape made by someone in England, featuring three programs, two documentaries and a show about policy. 

The first show, taking up about the first 27 minutes of the tape, is a documentary about the story of sound coming to the movies. The second was labeled on the tape as a review of Queen Elizabeth's 1961 visit to Africa, although the program expands into a more general review of many aspects of the Queen and her reign. This program mentions her tenth anniversary on the throne, so must actually have been broadcast in 1962. Most likely, all three shows are from 1962 (I can't seem to find the tape box at the moment, as I digitized this one some four years ago.) Finally, starting about an hour and 14 minutes into the tape, a program called "Conference", which in the episode heard  here was concerned with British Defence Policy (given that the show and the person recording it were English, that's how it was spelled on the box). The tape runs out before this show ends. 

Download: British Radio Potpourri - History of Sound Film, Queen's Visit, British Defence Policy

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Next, do you remember Joe Gerossi? The gregarious barber who I have featured three other times, here, here and here? Well, here I have a bunch more from Ol' Joe. And although this is the fourth such posting, it's labeled "Volume 2". Why? Because this one features Joe and his friends and perhaps family, and is thus more of a sequel to the first posting than to the other two (both of which largely or entirely featured Joe on his own).

Let me just say: This Tape Is A Mess. The sound goes in and out, there are problems with the speed of the machine recording it in spots, and there are other spots where newly recorded material did not fully erase older material (which was a problem on another one of Joe's tapes, too - he must have had a lousy tape recorder!). There are some truly winning moments here, and some others which go on too long, or should never have been kept in the first place. But I think Joe has some fans, so I thought I'd share another batch of recordings that he made. 

Download: Joe Gerossi and Friends - Various Recordings, Volume 2

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Incidentally, this reel came with THREE different slips of paper claiming to contain descriptions of what was on the tape and in what order. I present them here in case you'd like to see if you can tell who is who, and what is where: 

 


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This next segment is a five minute oddity I've labeled "Unusual Montage of Late 1970's Media Sounds". I have no idea for what purpose this might have been created, and aside from that, I think the title suffices as an introduction to this interesting compilation of sounds: 

Download: Unusual Montage of Late 1970's Media Sounds

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AND NOW - with the exception of a short reel at the end - IT'S TIME TO MOVE INTO CHRISTMAS MODE!!

I have so many Christmas related items that I won't possibly be able to squeeze them all into one post in the middle of December. So with Advent beginning in three days, I'm going to get ahead of things and share four Christmassy items with you.

I'll start with the one which, to my ears and in terms of what I prefer, is by far the most interesting of the next four tapes. In it, a man, perhaps a patriarch, for lack of a better term (or perhaps not), spends some time "Interviewing the Family on Christmas Night". I find this fascinating and endearing, and I hope you will enjoy it, too. 

Download: Interviewing the Family on Christmas Night

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For those of you who enjoy manly men singing Christmas music with Mitch Miller's idiosyncratic echoey production - with a few female vocals thrown in - here is a Christmastime episode of "Sing Along with Mitch!: 

Download: Sing Along with Mitch - A Christmas Episode

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And here's a tape of three songs - none of which are related to Christmas - but which were offered up as an sort of musical Christmas Card by some unknown folks, folks who very likely were living in Indiana (on 52nd Street), from the sound of things. At first I thought this was a musical audio letter to someone ("Honey") who was far away, but upon a closer listen, I'm pretty sure that the male singer present IS honey, and that the woman who speaks first is addressing him following a return from.... somewhere. The sound quality is more than a bit rough, but the homey qualities and the clear affection in the voices of all involved make this a sweet, short offering.

Download: Merry Christmas to Honey - Three Songs

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And finally, a neat little tape (well, I think it is, anyway) of a rehearsal of Christmas Songs by a high school choir. I picked up several tapes of this group some time ago, in a batch of tapes purchased from God knows where, and this was the first one I listened to. 


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This is all it says on the box: 


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Finally, it's time for our "Very Short Reel". This one is sort of intriguing. This is a small reel of tape, containing a recording of two piano pieces, recorded at the professional speed of 15 Inches-Per-Second. Only the second piece is identified (on the side of the box), listed as "Down Yonder", but the first, shorter piece is clearly "Who's Sorry Now". The pianist on the first piece is listed as Tom Slade, and the second piece is listed as a duet between Tom Slade and Milton Jackson. The performance of "Down Yonder" is upbeat, and jazzy, rollicking, features elements of other familiar tunes, and is just a whole lotta...... 

Wait, Milton Jackson? Surely not the legendary jazz musician? I doubt it, but I can't figure any way to determine this one way or the other. The date certainly makes it possible, but that's hardly an unusual name.

Here are two images from the box. This was, unfortunately, one of the tapes whose boxes got damaged in a pipe leak in my basement several years ago. For the most part, the tapes were undamaged, as is true for this reel (reel to reel tape tends to be pretty hardy), but the box is a mess. 

Here is the side of the tape box, which is admittedly hard to read in this scan. It reads Tom Slade (Down Yonder) 10-13-54



And a portion of the back. Again, hard to read. It says: 

Reel # 3, 10/13/54, 15 IPS

1. Tom Slade, Piano
2. Tom Slade and Milton Jackson, Piano


And here's what it sounds like!


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