Monday, August 7, 2017

Australia, A Private Phone Call and Bill Cosby - Who Could Ask For More!!!

Well, private life and work have both been fairly overwhelming these last few weeks - not necessarily in a bad way, but far too much for me to do what it takes to post here as often as I'd like.

To make up for that, here's another three for the price of one posting, three utterly unrelated bits of tape from the collection.

Up first, it's another piece of Shortwave recording of an Australian radio program. A fellow in Maine was in the habit of recording these shows, and at some point, part (or all) of his collection fell into my hands. I've posted two of these tapes before, which you can find here. Like the more recent of those two posts, this one features an episode of "Listener's Mailbag", which, as I said in February of last year, just fascinates me. It's comments from the US regarding Radio Australia and many other related things, with comments and answers from the host. When I shared another episode, I made this comment: "I find this a charming concept and effort, the likes of which have been completely lost in our modern world."

Download: More Shortwave From Australia
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Next up, here's something which could not be more mundane - a phone call from one home to another. For whatever reason, the caller chose to record this call. I have found a small number of these over the years, but typically there is something of importance about the call, either with regard to the circumstances of the call or some situation needing discussion. That doesn't seem to be the case here - just two friends (or perhaps more than friends) having an eight minute phone conversation. The amateur sociologist in me (which, admittedly, is probably what drives a lot of my reel collecting) finds this sort of thing captivating.

You should also be aware that there is extensive dialing and operator interaction over the first third of this 12 minute tape. The caller make several failed attempts to reach his other party, then tries the operator - the actual call doesn't start until nearly the four minute mark.

Download: John and Irene - A Phone Call
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Finally, here's a bit of 1960's radio history that I'd never read about - not surprising, as it may not have lasted very long. Here is a site (the owner of which no longer seems to be involved with it) which has a bit of information about the show. Bill Cosby produced a radio show, circa 1967, featuring short comedic sketches. The following episode was found in the midst of a short tape tape of various recordings of Chicago top 40 radio stations. It's a cute little bit of dry radio humor, and very much has the tone (although not the focus) of Cosby's mid-'60's albums.

Download: Bill Cosby - The Bill Cosby Radio Show
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I hope you found something to enjoy here, in this cornucopia of sounds.

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Party in 1959

Today, for your dining and dancing pleasure, an hour or so of tape to help you imagine that you are at a party, probably involving mostly young people - although there are certainly adults present, as well - in what I'm guessing was 1959.

The tape is dominated by the records chosen to be played nearly throughout, records which largely come from the mid to late 1950's, with none, as far as I heard, which came from after 1959, hence the date. But there are some other sounds here - conversations, shouts, laughs, etc., to reward those who choose to listen all the way through. (By the way, the loud noise heard at the start ends within the first 30 seconds.)

So sit back, pretend you have a houseful of teenagers, imagine that we have an actual President in Washington (Eisenhower, in this case), and that none of these young people are going to know what hit them, when the next 5-7 years are done with them.

Download: A Party in 1959
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Friday, June 30, 2017

Back in the Days of True Customer Service

A few years ago, I bought a collection of tapes which were all in the sort of large boxes in which audio companies used to ship blank tapes. They were all recorded on and labeled with extensive detail, at least from the distant photos I could see into the individual boxes of tapes. This was enough to intrigue me to shell out whatever I paid for them.

In the time since, I've gone through one box of the tapes, which contained such things as a concert and a live performance of "George Washington Slept Here" done at some sort of amateur performance hall, with the name of a school mentioned on the labels on the outside of the individual tape's box.

I just moved on to the second box, and the first tape I opened had the following labels on it:


Again, this is the sort of thing I could sort of make out in the initial eBay ad which led me to buy the boxes. And I was not let down. What is contained here is some sort of training tape, either for A T & T operators, or, more likely, those who would be supervising them. It contains 60 apparently real calls for all sorts of service on phones, phone lines and phone wires, etc., from back in those days (in this case, 1962) when the phone company was not only a monopoly, but also owned your phone equipment, and was obliged to keep it in good working order.

Based on the labels (above) and the opening introduction, it sounds like these calls were being presented to supervisors (or those in training), for them to score the calls in some way, reflecting what was and wasn't done correctly.

This is probably a bit tedious to listen to in one, 61 minute blast, but it is an fascinating trip back into the days when you could make a phone call to get something fixed or replaced, and have the company on the other end of the line immediately make a sincere effort to not only acknowledge your feelings, but to find out what would be the very quickest moment at which you would be available for them to help you.

A few of the calls indicate that this quickness of response was not always what really happened, but it sounds like most of the time, the system worked.

Download: A T & T - Plant Observers Training Tape
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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Story of a Serial Drug User, In His Own Words

I have very little to say about today's feature. I think it speaks for itself. I will say that it's one of the most startling and amazing tapes I've come across, and that I found it riveting.

For those who might wonder, I have no idea who the main speaker is, who is interviewing him, for what purpose, or when this may have been recorded. My guess on the latter is the late 1960's or early 1970's, but there is nothing of any sort written on the box or the tape reel.

With that said, I present to you a recording of a man with extensive experience in the world of illegal drugs, being interviewed about his history and his thoughts.

Download: Unknown - The Story of a Serial Drug User, In His Own Words
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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wally Butterworth, Professional Jackass

Three years ago, I received some records and tapes from a correspondent who had a long-deceased relative who had been part of the far right wing in the 1950's and 1960's. Among the many absolutely repugnant items in this collection of records and tapes was an album containing two racists screeds by a man named Wally Butterworth. I posted  both sides of the album, as well as the remarkable sleeve that it came in, to the WFMU blog, at that time. You can read about it, and hear it here.

I don't think I really ever expected to hear Wally Butterworth again, but upon opening up a tape that I got from God knows where, I found it contained another one of his lectures, sounding pretty much the same as the other two. And with the radical, racist right making more noise today than in more than 40 years, and being mainstreamed more than at any point in most of our lifetimes, I thought this was a good time to expose this asshole via his own words.

His topic on this recording is Sex Education in the Schools. I have no idea if his information is accurate - some of it does genuinely sound pretty "out there" for grade and high schools, particularly in the time frame that this would have been recorded. But there are two problems with this:

Number one, this faction has proven time and again that there first course of action will be to either make something up whole cloth, or to take a sliver of real information, and fabricate something potentially horrifying around it, unrelated to the truth of the matter.

Number two, and to me even more important, even if Butterworth had many of his facts straight, he has surrounded this information with repeated racist and anti-Semitic references, which are gratuitously attached to subjects, organizations and people who he seems to have brought up solely to slander and insult them.

(Oh, and then there's the section where he suggests - twice - that a certain teacher who did something he finds inappropriate ought to be, um, no longer alive.)

As recently as five years ago, I thought this sort of thing had receded into the background, and that was left of it was being flagged and identified as such by the vast majority of the population. Sadly, the last few years (as indicated in Portland this week) have proven that to have been false hope. When Wally Butterworth spoke these words, he was on the fringe of the fringe. Today, sadly, he'd probably have the opportunity to appear on major TV networks and radio programs.

Download: Wally Butterworth - Sex in Our Public Schools
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Monday, May 22, 2017

From a Boy Scout Slide Show Presentation

Well, about a month ago, I shared the narration from a slide show that someone had done, of his family's vacation trip in New England, and I explained that I have come across several of these over the years. I asked for feedback regarding whether there would be interest in hearing more of them.

Those who commented were unanimous in that they wanted to hear more. And so here we have another one.

This one is quite a bit different than the first one, and more interesting due to those differences. It's a slide show recapping a lengthy Boy Scout trip. But rather than simply being a narration of the slides, with the (apparently necessary) music - although all that is there - instead, it contains several recorded excerpts from the trip itself, to more fully flesh out the stories being told in the slides.

In fact, that may lead to a little confusion, which I'll try to fend off here. The beginning of this tape was erased by something else, so it actually starts up in the midst of one of those "field recordings", and a very poorly recorded one, at that, before going to the first narration of the existing recording, at about 25 seconds in. Almost immediately, there was another section erased, and I have cut out the other material - so there is a gap there, too.

And finally, the tape ends before the presentation does. Perhaps the end of the tape was cut off for some reason (maybe it became damaged), or may it wore away with time, Anyway, we do not hear the end of the presentation either.

However, that does not take away from the interesting material which remains, or the enjoyment of lisetening to it.

Download: Unknown - Boy Scout Slide Show Narration
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Sunday, April 30, 2017

An Audio Letter from a Sailor

Furst off, I want to thank everyone for the comments, feedback and corrections. I've been getting a good number of comments posted on my recent offerings, and I really appreciate it.

For those who would like to look back at the previous posts for more information than I had initially, a few good folks have left comments clarifying and explaining things about the "Mysterious Hunk of Tape", and the "Blue Material". I have also heard from multiple people about their enjoyment of last week's slide narration, all of whom asked for more, and I will look for more of those among my collection. I know I have a boy scout troop's slide narration already digitized, and I will share that in May.

Every now and then, I will comment back on the page of the post in question, but in most cases, if the poster's name is not included, or doesn't have an e-mail link, I don't know how to get back to him or her. I do often respond to those for whom I have an e-mail address. If you don't (or can't) hear from me, though, please know that your comment is very much appreciated.

And now...
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Here's a neat slice-of-life, featuring the stories and thoughts of a sailor, sending home his love and good wishes on a tiny three inch reel of tape - at the low-sound-quality-but-lots-of-time-affording speed of 1 7/8 inches per second. At that speed, that three inch reel managed to capture over a half hour of recording, and it was cheap to mail, too, weighing barely a few ounces. My collection is full of audio letters on three inch reels, including many that I've shared here and at WFMU.

I'll let you enjoy the highlights of this reel as they unfold - if you've been frequenting this site, my guess is that you'll enjoy it a lot. I'll just say two things: that the tape opens with about two minutes of music, but then the rest is spoken word, and that at the halfway point - when he sings Happy Birthday - that's where the second side of the tape begins.

Enjoy - and by all means, please offer up any comments you might feel like making.

Download: Unknown - Audio Letter from a Sailor
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