Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Party Like It's Almost 1969

As you prepare for this year's New Year's Eve festivities, here's a little party music for you from 1968, courtesy of the fine folks at WCOL, AM 1230, in Columbus, Ohio.

Someone (whose tapes I bought at least three decades later) made the wonderful choice to record much of that station's year end countdown of the biggest hits of the year. Unfortunately, some of the DJ chatter is cut out, as are all of the commercials. And not all of the songs are represented here (many from lower down on the list are cut). But what's here is great stuff, if you're into top 40 radio recordings.

For example, while the number one song is quite predictable (it was the biggest hit record of the era), several of the top 15 hits of the year came nowhere near that lofty finish on any nationwide charts - for example, who would expect "Dock of the Bay" to be sitting outside of the top ten, pushed out by the likes of "Bottle of Wine" by the Fireballs? And the year end number FIVE hit - well it's a song which only got to number 17 in its regular chart run in Billboard. And in other spots on the chart there are similar regional hits, much bigger here than they were nationally.

Oddly, after playing the number five song, the DJ cuts back to two songs from much lower down in the countdown, which apparently were skipped for some reason. We get to hear those, but sadly, there's not even a moment of song number three, which was skipped entirely, by whoever recorded the countdown, so I guess we'll never know what that song was..

The tape contained the majority of the countdown on the first side of the tape, and that is the first segment here, running about 94 minutes. It ends with the celebration of the new year, 1969, as it arrives, with an idiosyncratic version of Auld Lang Syne (heard during most of the last 90 seconds of segment one) which is worth hearing. The remainder of the countdown (36 minutes) is on side two, and that is the second segment (it starts with a few seconds of a news broadcast, which was then erased).

(Not included is the remainder of side two, which features an aggressively uninspired Tom Jones album, a few tracks from Elvis movies, and some of Glenn Miller's biggest hits, in what sound like hi-fi note-for-note recreations of the originals. Bleah.)

Put on your funny hats and Welcome-1969 glasses, and enjoy the broadcast!

Download: WCOL, AM 1230, Columbus Ohio, Top Hits of 1968 - Part One

Download: WCOL, AM 1230, Columbus Ohio, Top Hits of 1968 - Part Two

UPDATE, 1/7/16: Frequent commenter and general wonderful helper to this site Timmy has shared both a link to some history of WCOL, which you can find here, and also a copy of the station's Top 100 of 1968, in which we can see that the #3 song of the year was "Lady Madonna", which barely made the top four in it's regular Billboard run, nationally, in the early part of that year.

Thanks, Timmy!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Morning with a Toddler

Here's one that I don't think I need to say much about. Perhaps it won't get as many replays as the files in some of my other posts, but it more than makes up for that in its sweetness and familiarity. Those of you with distant (or recent) memories of Christmases spent with very small children might enjoy this the most.

Quite simply, this features about 25 minutes of a Christmas celebration between a young couple and their toddler, including the opening of gifts, the reactions, the tender words between the couple, and even the thanks given to the tiny little girl upon opening the gifts she "chose" for her parents.

Download: Christmas Morning With a Toddler


P.S. Watch for a very special New Year's Eve related post early next week!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

"Christmas, 1961, At Mom Mom's"

"Record, Daddy, I wanna see what happens..."

Thus begins a lovely little 28 minute tape labeled "Christmas 1961 at Mom Mom's".  I am enchanted by this sort of tape, which capture special moments within families, or friends or neighbors, or all three.

Very shortly into the tape, we are treated to much of the Chubby Checker/Bobby Rydell remake of "Jingle Bell Rock" (which we'll later learn was among one child's favorite records at that moment). But this is an exception: the rest of the tape features music, singing and talking featuring Mom Mom's family.

I will not do a moment by moment summary here, but I will mention a few favorite moments. I adore the little song that a couple of kids sing starting at the 8:30 mark. The communal singing of "Silent Night" at 13:30 is sweet. There is also a boisterous version of "Sweet Sue - Just You" around the 16 minute mark, and a nice rendition or two of a Hebrew song at the 22:00 mark.

Oh, and it's not your speakers: around 18:20 there is a weirdly double-recorded section, with both a piano piece and a separate vocal piece having been recorded on the same part of the tape.

(There are a few truly dull moments, too, including some badly played guitar licks which start around the six minute mark and which - at two minutes - go on too long, but even these give a flavor of who these people were and what the gathering was like.)

I hope you enjoy this little slice of Christmas from 54 years ago. Another Christmas recording will follow early next week.

(A final word on the ticking that can be heard through much of this recording: I mentioned a few months ago that my reel to reel machine was sick and in the shop. Well, you see, it was imprinting everything I played with that damn ticking, and this was one of the tapes where I realized that it was happening. The imprinting is permanent. The various loudnesses of the ticking is an indication of how much or how little I've boosted the sound to any given segment of the recording.)

Download: Christmas, 1961, at Mom Mom's

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Group of Loud Girls, circa 1959

Well, I just enjoy this tape. It features a group of young women, around 1959, having some fun.

There's nothing particularly historical here, it's poorly recorded in places(specifically during the loudest section in the middle of the recording), and it mainly captures a few minutes of silliness, but that last quality makes up for any shortcomings for me.

The tape is just under 21 minutes long - there appear to be at least three different recording times involved. The first one would be that someone was recording pop music off of the radio (this, and some of the musical references by the girls, nicely dates this tape to some time around 1959). Most of that radio recording was erased, though, and we hear moments of it in between the early parts of the existing tape.

Then there is the main segment, which grows louder and louder (with those occasional gaps) as the girls involved start feeding off of each other and the energy level rises (as does a deep hum which seems to indicate a microphone level turned up too high. This segment suddenly ends just after the 13 minute mark, and most of the remaining 7 1/2 minutes involve at least some of the same girls (and, I think, one adult woman), without nearly so much franticness as before. It appears that this section was also recorded earlier (like the radio material heard at the start of the tape), and part of it was erased by the loud part.

As to the specific content of what these girls' chose to record, I'll leave that for you to discover. There's no specific high or low point, it just demonstrates the fun that was to be had for these people, being a young teen in the late 1950's.

Oh, and I wonder what Ray's doing right now.

Download: A Group of Loud Girls, circa 1959