The Music Will Never Stop 20

March 15, 2014:

The missing jewel case for the “Gladiator” soundtrack CD turned up; it was incorrectly put in a stack of “various artist” CDs, instead of with soundtracks.

The two CDs are still missing, though.

Meanwhile, things have gotten… interesting, with the tapes. I played one labeled “Joe + Faith” that turned out to be a kindergarten teacher’s recording of herself teaching her class the alphabet. Joe was the noisy kid in the class; I’m not sure about Faith.

I have no use for that, so I tossed it unsaved.

While it was playing, I decided to fiddle with the non-functioning tape deck a little — I thought maybe if I could get the tapes to press down on the heads better, it would still function.

Turns out wiping the little blob of black gunk off the play head made a difference, too. No idea what it was, but it came off on my finger readily enough.

And yes, I know rubbing one’s finger across the heads is Not Recommended. Tough. It worked.

Anyway, the tape deck is working again — more on that in a moment.

Meanwhile, Julie got to work and noticed that she had an old boom box, with cassette player, at her desk, which she uses for music when her iPod is not practical, for whatever reason. She offered to bring it home for my use, but since I got the deck working I told her not to bother — yet. So I have another option, should I need it.

And I pulled the next tape out of the stack. A homemade one, labeled in handwriting I don’t recognize. As is so often the case, I don’t know where it came from, but the sides are (accurately) labeled “Kingston Trio – From the Hungry I” and “The Irish Rovers – The Unicorn.”

This copy of “The Unicorn” (apparently copied from LP) is better than the one I already copied from the commercial tape, or at least better than it recorded before I cleaned the heads, so I may replace that, but I haven’t yet.

I did, however, record “…from the Hungry i,” which was one of my favorite albums when I was a kid (before I hit puberty and discovered acid rock). I discovered I could still sing along with most of it. However, this tape had been recorded on a crappy machine, and there was a very heavy hum (probably 60 Hz) throughout. Filtering that out without seriously damaging the music was a challenge. Hell, it took me three tries just to get the thing recorded without Audacity crashing, and then it had to be sped up 6%, and then tinkering with the noise reduction… well, I eventually got the hum out without wrecking the music, but I won’t pretend the result is perfect.

(My first shot at noise reduction, using more or less the default settings, resulted in what sounded like Martian chipmunks trying to sing calypso.)

So, I have an old favorite back, including “The Merry Minuet,” a song that is often — very often — misattributed to Tom Lehrer. And “Zombie Jamboree.” And other good stuff.

(By the way, I’m not sure which of my parents bought the album back in ’59.)

March 16, 2014:

I started on that extra copy of “The Unicorn,” but it’s not a high priority.

Meanwhile, I tackled the first side of the next tape: “Medieval Roots,” by New York Pro Musica. It’s a complete album taped off LP — an assortment of medieval music, using authentic instruments. It’s not unlike some of the Nonesuch LPs I did earlier.

There are a few places where either the turntable playing the original LP, or the recorder used to tape it, was having issues — the speed isn’t completely consistent. I have no idea how to fix that without hours of nitpicking, repetitive work, so I’ll live with it. It’s maybe three spots for a few seconds each, not a big deal.

One amusing (at least to me) detail is that there’s a saltarello on here that I have in an updated version by Dead Can Dance. Good music is good music, even seven hundred years later.

Hell, this album may be where Dead Can Dance first heard it.

The album’s cover art, which I pulled off the web, is a great concept, but the colors (if the JPG I got is accurate) are not good. Oh, well.

I don’t know where I got this tape. I don’t recognize the handwriting. The other side, which I’ll probably get through tomorrow or Monday, says it’s “Stormy Weekend,” by Mystic Blues Orchestra, which I never heard of before.

March 16, 2014:

Now I have finished the second copy of “The Unicorn.” It’s not perfect, but the average sound quality is better than the previous copy, so I have both copies converted, side by side in iTunes.

March 17, 2014:

I probably never heard of it because it doesn’t exist. This is “Stormy Weekend” by the Mystic Moods Orchestra, which I certainly have heard of and heretofore did my best to ignore. One of several “easy listening” outfits of the day, before “New Age” came along.

It’s copied. There are some more of those wows where something was slowing it down, but it’s mostly a good copy.

Whether it’s one I actually want… well, as easy listening goes, it’s not bad. It’s a theme album, where the concept is exactly what the title says — a stormy weekend, holed up somewhere romantic. In the background and between songs there’s a perpetual thunderstorm going on; there are windchimes somewhere, and every so often a train rumbles past. The brief next-to-last cut, “4:22 A.M.,” is mostly dogs barking at distant sirens as the thunderstorm starts to wind down, and the final song is “Monday, Monday,” as in, the weekend’s over.

The opening number is “Love is Blue,” which I’m sure many of you remember, and “Monday, Monday” starts with a quick recap of “Love is Blue” before segueing into the Mamas & the Papas tune.

Anyway. It’s all instrumentals and sound effects, heavy on strings and piano, and I admit these were good musicians at work.

Not good enough that I’ll spend actual money to replace the tracks with speed issues, though.

(Yes, it’s available for download.)

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