Archive for the ‘Generalities & Rants’ Category

The Music Will Never Stop 86

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Okay, I didn’t get anything more off Side 2 of the Talon tape. There’s 48 minutes of music on that side, but it isn’t salvageable from this recording. I’ll need to try it again.

Meanwhile, I went ahead and did Side 1. Got an hour and eighteen minutes of music off it, but the quality ranges from almost okay to really bad. I may try that side again, too.

It’s progress, I think.

The Music Will Never Stop 85

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

I decided on a change of approach. I’ve gone ahead and recorded all the remaining tapes onto my hard drive (well, except one, maybe — there’s one I didn’t do that was in the pile but that I think I recorded previously, then put back in the stack because I wasn’t satisfied with how it came out).

Now to go through them all and see what needs saving.

After that, I’ve stacked up all the tapes I think I might be able to coax better sound off, now that I’m a little more experienced at it. There are a total of twenty tapes where I’m not 100% certain I’m done with them.

(The other thirty-two — yes, I’m done with them. I’ve trashed one, given away a couple, three that were unused/blank are set aside, and the rest are in a box upstairs while I try to figure out what I should do with them. Suggestions are welcome.)

I’ve gone through fifteen of the twenty; five recordings (well, ten; each tape has two sides) are still pretty much untouched. I’m pretty sure at least one of those ten sides was blank.

Right now I’m working on Side 2 of Reel No. 4, “Coffeehouse – ‘Talon’ – Dance Aug. 25, 1973.” I’m assuming Talon was the name of the band. The first forty minutes were blank, but then I hit music — though after the first five minutes or so the volume drops off drastically, so the music is almost drowned out by tape hiss.

I salvaged an eight-minute jam, cut a minute and a half of silence, and then tried to clean up a four-minute piece. It didn’t go very well.

You know what? I decided it’s not worth it. That four-minute piece isn’t anything I’ll ever want to listen to. So I’ll just skip it. Now let’s see if there’s anything more worthwhile on the rest of the tape. There’s another stretch of silence, and maybe some faint tuning up going on…and then a rather nice song, but so faint it’s not worth exporting to MP3.

I think I should maybe try this tape again with freshly-cleaned heads.

The Music Will Never Stop 84

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

The situation with “Conceptionland,” “Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him, and “Dear Friends” was slightly more complicated than I thought; it was only Side 1 of “Waiting for the Electrician.” The title track, which is all of Side 2, was missing. And on “Dear Friends” Track 6 was complete, but Track 7 was indeed missing.

As mentioned, I bought a download of “Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him,” and am glad to have it. For the other two, though, I converted what I had on tape. Quality is only so-so, even after using Audacity’s filters, but since most of this material is frankly not all that great, and quality is less important with comedy than with music, I’m not about to buy those albums.

Converting the 49 (!) tracks from “Conceptionland” took quite awhile, and all those short little bits, heavily filtered, apparently destabilized Audacity — it crashed repeatedly during the last part of the job. I mean, repeatedly, sometimes three or four times in a single attempt to export a piece.

I did get it done, though. Fifty-five tracks are now MP3s on my hard drive. And I’ve shut down Audacity for a nice little rest, in hopes that whatever was causing those crashes will go away.

Next up, a tape of some of my high school friends doing their own attempts at improv comedy.

The Music Will Never Stop 83

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Well… the quality on Reel No. L is not bad, but on the other hand, Tom Lehrer albums are surprisingly cheap, so I’ve downloaded “That Was the Year That Was” and bought a CD of “Songs and More Songs by Tom Lehrer.” That covers the three albums I recorded whenever it was.

But that leaves “Conceptionland,” by the Conception Corporation, which is not readily available. “Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him” is a cheap download, so I downloaded it, but the Firesign Theatre’s “Dear Friends” is another relative rarity, and I have Side 1 of that on the tape. (It’s a compilation of bits from their radio show.) Unfortunately, the quality isn’t all that great on those, but I’ll see what I can do.

(I don’t really even have all of Side 1 of “Dear Friends”; the tape ran out
midway through the sixth track, “The Someday Funnies.”)

The thing is, “Conceptionland” has forty-nine tracks, most of them very short. It’s going to take me awhile to work through all that.

The Music Will Never Stop 82

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Huh. Audacity’s “remove bass rumble” filter works surprisingly well. I converted “Roll Over Beethoven” to MP3 using that filter, and it sounds roughly as good as it would over a very cheap AM radio.

But subsequent Beatles songs, not so much.

The problem here is that I apparently recorded this tape with very cheap microphones rather than a line in, and in order to get a good signal-to-noise ratio I played the record loud.

Which meant I overloaded the microphones on every loud bit. It’s not bad on “Roll Over Beethoven,” but it gets much worse on songs with a heavier beat.

As for Side 2 of “Oldies,” the list is indeed accurate. I converted those fifteen unsourced oldies tracks, even though the quality is kind of marginal, but the two Beatles albums, which were much inferior in sound quality, are on order from Amazon in CD form. (They weren’t available as downloads.)

The next tape is cued up on the machine — or is that “queued”? Anyway, it’s all set to record.

The box is labeled, but it’s hard to read. Here’s what I could make out at first:

“Reel No. L Title: [faded to illegibility]/Conception Corporation/[faded to illegibility]/Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him/Dear Friends”

When I took a closer look I realized the second illegible part says “Firesign Theatre,” but I still couldn’t (and can’t) make out the first.

But inside the box was a typed track list that told me what it was, and why the Reel No. was “L”: Tom Lehrer. About two hours of Tom Lehrer. I really hope the quality is good.

The Music Will Never Stop 81

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

The next tape box says “Oldies.” Nothing else. There’s a typed list inside, though, which turns out to be accurate (at least for Side 1; I haven’t played Side 2 yet).

There are thirty-two 1950s pop/rock numbers by assorted performers, then the first four cuts from The Beatles’ 2nd Album, and finally “Heartbreak Hotel” on Side 1. Those 32 are all the same as the first thiry-two I recorded off an unlabeled cassette many months ago, and the quality was better on the cassette, so I don’t need them.

I don’t have The Beatles’ Second Album, though, and at $11.99 it’s not all that cheap, so I’m debating what to do. The quality on this tape… well, it’s not one of the worst, but it’s not very good, either. It’s a bit muddy, with too much bass and truncated treble. Hmm.

“Heartbreak Hotel” — it’s a single, it’s cheap; I’ll want to play it again to assess the quality more exactly, but I’ll probably buy the download instead.

Side 2, assuming the list is accurate, has the rest of The Beatles’ Second Album, then “I Will Follow Him” by Little Peggy March, which I got from the single early last year and probably don’t need again (though the single was kind of scratchy), then the remaining four tracks off that oldies cassette — and then fifteen 1950s tracks I don’t seem to have anywhere else, and Meet the Beatles rounds it all out.

No idea where I got any of this stuff except for “I Will Follow Him.”

By the way, I degaussed the heads before playing this tape. It didn’t make much difference.

The Music Will Never Stop 80

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

Well, that explains what was up with the “TV Concert” tape! I clearly reversed it at some point. Side 2 must have been the original Side 1. It’s a recording of the first episode of “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert,” followed by the beginning of “Attack of the Crab Monsters.” It was clearly made with microphones pointed at the TV, not a line connection, because you can hear me and someone else (maybe Jack Wells) giggling hysterically at the start of “Attack of the Crab Monsters.”

It’s got the Doobie Brothers, Cross Country, and the Rolling Stones, but the Stones aren’t live — online sources say it was just some of their videos, not concert footage at all.

Those sources also say Earth, Wind and Fire were on there, but at first I didn’t notice them during playback. That must have been when I went upstairs for lunch.

But when I went to edit this down, there they were. Earth, Wind and Fire did three numbers while I was getting lunch. They’re there.

So I got five tracks from the Doobies, three from Earth, Wind and Fire, and two (sort of) from Cross Country. That last — there’s one actual song, but first there’s a five-minute thing that’s partly a medley of three of their songs (and I think it uses two different recordings of “In the Midnight Hour,” one live and one off their album), partly introducing the entire band, and partly a sort of backstage glimpse.

I didn’t bother with any of the Stones’ stuff — it’s all off albums I already have, not live versions.

I cut out ads and applause and other crap, and the Stones videos, and wound up with 47 minutes out of the 90-minute show.

I also tossed about twenty minutes of “Attack of the Crab Monsters.”

So that leaves eight more tapes in the stack, and I think I actually already did one of them but put it back to try for a cleaner copy. I’m hoping to get them all done by the end of the year, but that’s probably much too optimistic.

The Music Will Never Stop 79

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Well, this was a surprise. I had assumed that the tape labeled “TV Concert” was recorded off the TV. It wasn’t.

It’s only about eleven minutes of material; the rest of Side 1 is blank. (I haven’t played Side 2 yet.) That eleven minutes is a girl with a guitar, playin’ and singin’. And judging by the chatter between songs, I was the one recording it — I recognize my voice even though I can’t quite make out what I was saying. (I was behind the mikes, not in front of them.)

The thing is, I don’t know who the singer was. I can’t place her voice. I can tell you lots of people it wasn’t, but not who it was.

She plays guitar beautifully. The singing is less impressive — she had a nice voice, but had trouble hitting the high notes.

She also tended to break off in the middle of songs, sometimes because she forgot the lyrics, so I have not quite two minutes of “Blackbird” that ends in a bit of a muddle, and less than a minute of “Chelsea Morning” before she lost it. There are pieces of three other songs that I don’t recognize, as well.

I have no memory at all of making this recording. I thought at first the singer might be Martha Esersky, but I’m pretty sure it’s not. Then I considered Buffie Groves, but it’s definitely not her, either.

I just don’t know who it is. Don’t know what to do with this. I’ve converted it to MP3, but the metadata is pretty skimpy.

The Music Will Never Stop 78

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

The next tape was No. P, labeled “Pink Floyd/2001/Harp,” with a sticker on the box saying “NEEDS EDITING.”

Not really all that helpful. And the enclosed track listing, hand-written on lined paper, wasn’t great, either — it has counter numbers for thirteen items for over three hours of tape. It only has five titles matched to those thirteen numbers, and one of them is wrong.

The quality here is… not terrible, but still leaves much to be desired.

I immediately recognized three of the titled tracks (“Careful with that Axe, Eugene,” “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” and “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict”) as being from Pink Floyd’s “Ummagumma.” A fourth titled track says it’s “Kingfisher,” but upon looking up the track list for “Ummagumma” I see the actual title is “Grantchester Meadows.” And five of the blank counter numbers line up with the other five tracks on that two-record set.

“Ummagumma” starts at 384. From 000 to 384 is listed as a single track, which is silly. It took me awhile to identify what’s actually there, but by playing the 30-second samples on Amazon I was eventually able to nail it down as “Atom Heart Mother.”

Now, if those albums weren’t readily available, the quality here is just barely good enough that I’d take them off the tape; I might do some head-cleaning and degaussing and see if I could get a cleaner copy first. But as it happens, they are available for download at reasonable prices, so I’m going to do that instead and save myself a lot of work.

That covers all of Side 1, and the first chunk of Side 2 — this tape, while allegedly the same 1800 feet as the others, ran short. Oh, and the “needs editing” probably refers to a fragment of “Sisyphus” at the end of Side 1; the complete piece starts Side 2.

After the end of “Ummagumma” is the soundtrack album for “2001: A Space Odyssey” — and it’s the same one I had on vinyl and already transferred months ago. The LP was a bit scratchy in places, but it’s still a little better than the tape. (Side 2 of the tape has noticeably better sound than Side 1.) No need to make another copy.

(The last track listing is for “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” by the way — there are no counter numbers or titles for anything after that.)

And after “2001,” there’s a chunk of harp music I quickly identified as C.P.E. Bach’s Sonata in G Major, and then Johann Dussek’s Sonata in C Minor. It cuts off partway through, though, when the tape ran out. But it doesn’t matter; those are off the Nonesuch album “Four Centuries of Music for the Harp,” which was one of the LPs in my collection, and I got a near-perfect copy from the LP last year.

So I already have “2001” and the harp music, and I’m going to go download the two Floyd albums right after I post this. No need to save anything from the tape.

Next in the stack is labeled “TV Concert.” I have no idea what’s on it.

The Music Will Never Stop 77

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Next in the stack was a tape with a label with lots of writing on it, almost none of it legible. I think it said “Album Assortment” in there somewhere.

Anyway, it had “Infinity,” by Journey, on it. And “Dog and Butterfly,” by Heart, and “Point of Know Return” by Kansas, and “But Seriously, Folks” by Joe Walsh.

The quality on the first two was really bad, and I already had “Dog and Butterfly,” so I just went ahead and ordered “Infinity” on CD (it was really cheap).

The second side wasn’t as clear-cut — I didn’t have either album, and the sound quality was significantly better.

But it still wasn’t actually good, and I didn’t really want to put in the time and effort to edit them, so I downloaded “Point of Know Return” and ordered a CD of “But Seriously, Folks.”

And that’s another tape out of the way.