The Music Will Never Stop 72

Well, this was interesting, and made my life a bit easier. The tape labeled “P.P.H. 2” is mostly blank. There are two songs at the beginning, totaling thirteen minutes of music — a jam, and yet another rendition of “Parchman Farm” — and then nothing.

I still had to do two takes. The first time through the music was barely audible, as the 40-year layer of crud interfered. The second time, after vigorously cleaning the heads and rollers, it sounded just fine. Knowing the rest was blank, though, on the second play-through I stopped after fifteen minutes and turned it around to rewind. (Have I mentioned that “rewind” and “fast forward” no longer work on my recorder?)

But hey, it’s done and sounds surprisingly good. I’m pleased.

Then it was on to #5, “Coffeehouse – Pork Pie Hat (Two),” dated Aug. 27, 1973.

Played through Side 1. Stopped it twice to de-gunk the heads, but most of it was still faint, muffled, and generally crappy-sounding. It should improve the next time through.

So I have this play-list that was enclosed with the first Pork Pie Hat tape. It lists four sides. Two of them were on that tape, and I assumed the other two would be on either this tape, or “P.P.H. 2.”

They aren’t.

Side 1 here had not quite an hour and twenty minutes recorded, which is about right, but it doesn’t match the songs on the list. It should have “Jive, Jive, Jive” and “Maggie’s Farm,” along with a mishmosh of stuff I don’t have actual titles for, and that’s not what’s there. Instead there are half a dozen abortive attempts at “Badge,” a decent rendition of “Soul Kitchen,” etc.

Notice I didn’t say it has an hour and twenty minutes of music; it doesn’t. There’s a lot of tuning up, diddling around, talking, false starts, etc. I doubt there’s more than forty-five minutes of actual music.

Very disappointing, so far.

(And where the heck is the tape on the list?)

Then I played through it again. Mostly better. There are a couple of tracks that could stand another try, though. I had to de-gunk the heads partway through, and there are two tracks where neither recording is really acceptable.

Played Side 2 for the first time, too. About an hour and a quarter, of which about an hour is music. Most of it came out well.

What’s interesting (to me, anyway) is that the playlist for Side 2 (if there were one) starts with the same five songs that ended Side 2 of the first PPH tape. It has three songs beyond that, though.

I don’t think these are different copies of the same performance, but I’ll want to check them against each other to be absolutely sure. And given how disorganized the band was, I’m a bit boggled if they actually had a set list — but on the other hand, they apparently didn’t bother to change it up between shows, even though it was the same venue, so that’s their sort of sloppy.

This had their best version of “Summertime,” and a kick-ass fifteen-minute jam of “Spoonful.”

But wow, I’m sick of “Parchman Farm.” And they used “Badge” for their soundcheck, so there are three partial takes (not counting abortive ones I didn’t bother to convert to MP3) as well as the final performance. Fact is, the band only seems to have known about a dozen songs, and I wound up with about five hours of them either playing those songs over and over, or jamming, or just messing around. (Actually, I didn’t keep most of the “just messing around” stuff, so that would be more than five hours, counting that.)

Anyway, I now had everything that was on the tape, but played through Side 2 a second time, and Side 1 a third, to get better transcriptions.

(I needed to play Side 2 a third time just to rewind the tape — “rewind” and “fast forward” aren’t really working anymore — but I didn’t bother recording it.

The third play-through didn’t help much. It was generally worse than its predecessors — the treble is noticeably degraded, and there’s added noise, maybe from crud on the heads or the tape.

So the whole thing was pretty much complete at that point, except that (a) I needed to choose my preferred takes on a couple of songs, and (b) there are eight songs I haven’t really identified yet; I have them listed as “Don’t Know 1,” “Don’t Know 2,” “Don’t Know 3,” “Don’t Know 4,” “The Great Escape (in theory),” “Don’t Know 6,” “Highway 15 (?),” and “Don’t Know 9.”

I used to have Don’t Know 5, 7, and 8, but then realized they duplicated others on the list of unknowns. “The Great Escape” and “Highway 15” were titles on the song list in the box, but don’t appear to be correct. “Highway 15” may have been an original.

Most of the unknowns are instrumentals, “Highway 15” being the major exception.

I’ll track those down eventually. In fact, I just discovered that Julie is still more or less in touch with the Hat’s bass player, who ought to be able to identify everything for me.

I’ve chosen my preferred takes on everything, so that’s officially done — ID’ing things doesn’t count.

Anyway, there are fifty tracks, but I only count twenty-five different songs, since there are several repeats and one (listed simply as “Boogie”) had been split between two sides of the tape. There are also two jams, which I listed as “Jam” and “Jam Too.” It’s about five hours of music in all, as I said above.

Quality varies, but none of it totally sucks. (Mostly because I didn’t keep a few bits that did suck.)


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