Archive for the ‘Generalities & Rants’ Category

The Music Will Never Stop 70

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

There was another pair of tapes. The first is labeled “Coffeehouse – Pork Pie Hat, Aug. 13, 1973″ and “#2.” It also lists the seven members of Pork Pie Hat on the back.

The second only has a very faint scribble, “P.P.H. 2.”

Haven’t taken the second one out of the box yet. I’m working on the first one.

I played it all the way through. It sounded like utter crap. When it was done, I cleaned black gunk off the heads, rollers, guideposts, etc. and started it over. I’m three songs into that second run-through, and it sounds pretty good — not studio quality, but I’ve heard worse on commercially-released live albums. Seems like I have a formula — run through it to get the gunk off, then record it.

Anyway. Pork Pie Hat was a local band in Bedford, MA back in ’73 — five regular members, and a couple of drop-ins, according to what I wrote on the box. No connection with any band by that name you’ll find on the web. I knew four of the five members from high school, and one of the drop-ins; the other was the older brother of one of my friends.

The drummer, Chip Edgar, I didn’t know at all. No idea where they found him.

I’m pretty sure the band broke up by ’75. They were an adequate bar band, not much more than that, though they sometimes got ambitious. That anonymous jam I recorded from the previous tape was better.

Right now, as I type this, I’m listening to the Hat’s version of “Maggie’s Farm,” and it’s a bit odd — the rhythm section sounds like they’re playing “All Is Loneliness,” rather than “Maggie’s Farm.”

The tape box included a song list — but it’s for four sides, so I’m assuming it includes the tape labeled “P.P.H. 2.” It also isn’t very complete. That would be five or six hours, and believe me, they didn’t play that long at the Coffeehouse on August 13th. So far, in this first set, I don’t hear any crowd noise; maybe it was a rehearsal?

I really wish I’d kept better records back then.

Oh, hey! I just took a closer look at the box, and in the very faded ink that we see on a couple of other boxes it has a second date written in below “Aug. 13, 1973″ — it says “Aug. 27, 1973.” So I guess I taped two different gigs.

And I was looking at the other tape boxes, and there’s a third one: #5, “Coffeehouse – Pork Pie Hat (Two), Aug. 27, 1973.”

This is confusing. There are play-lists for two tapes, not three. I checked all the boxes; no other lists.

So I recorded the first side of the first tape, edited, and converted it to MP3, and… it’s a mixed bag. The first couple of tracks sound good, but it gets muddier and muddier. I actually stopped the tape twice between songs to clean the heads; the first time the heads weren’t bad and it didn’t make much difference, but the second time, at the end of a thirteen-minute jam, I got a big wodge of gunk off and the difference was huge. So I’ll probably go back and re-record some of this stuff and see if I can get better versions. Some of the damage is clearly in the original tape and unfixable, but some probably isn’t.

The first two songs — an instrumental I haven’t identified and “Jive, Jive, Jive” — sound great. The third, “Parchman Farm,” is good. By the fourth, “Maggie’s Farm,” not so much…

Sigh.

Pork Pie Hat did not have a really extensive repertoire. On the first tape I heard “Jive, Jive, Jive” three times, “Parchman Farm” twice, “Maggie’s Farm” twice, “The Great Escape” twice, an instrumental I haven’t identified three times, “Badge” twice, and “Summertime” twice.

(Classically-trained first sopranos should not sing “Summertime” with blues-rock bands. Especially not an octave or so above the key the band is playing in. The word “screechy” is one of the politer terms to come to mind.)

And besides those favorites they played a few other songs, including “Soul Kitchen” and “Spoonful.” They didn’t do either of those as well as that anonymous band on the previous tape, but they weren’t bad.

They closed out the set with “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun.” That was interesting, and better than I might have expected.

I ran into trouble recording the second side. I tried to save the file to an invalid location and lost the whole thing. I was able to salvage it, but I spent two and a half hours recovering a recording that’s only an hour and forty minutes. Now I know how to do it, though; next time (I’ve made this mistake before and may well do it again) I’ll be able to do it much more quickly.

It was all still there when recovered, and I successfully translated it all to MP3.

It’s all squared away. I have thirty tracks off this tape, albeit with a lot of repeated songs. Quality is mostly good; the entire second side was clean enough that I didn’t need to filter or rebalance anything, though I did amplify a few numbers.

The first side, well, I plan to re-record that and maybe replace some of the iffy pieces, if I can get better versions.

I don’t actually know where this stuff was recorded. The song list doesn’t say. The box says it was recorded at the Coffeehouse, on two different dates in the summer of 1973, but I’m not sure I believe that. It’s probably accurate, but even if it is, I have no idea where the break between shows is. Since some songs are played three times, I can’t just go by the assumption that the second set begins when they start repeating.

Also, there is no crowd noise on the first few tracks, so that might have been a rehearsal, or maybe they just started playing when the place was still half-empty.

Whatever. It’s done, barring possible replacements. And most of it is decent music. The vocals on “Summertime” are pretty dreadful, both times — and I say this even though the singer was a good friend of mine — but the band could jam. I think their arrangement of “Maggie’s Farm” is bizarre, but they did fine with “Parchman Farm” and “Spoonful” (all thirteen minutes of it) and some of the others.

There are seven songs I haven’t identified. Some are instrumentals and I don’t recognize them; a couple have words, but I can’t make out enough of the lyrics to google them. Or at least, I haven’t yet — I’ll probably give them a more careful listen eventually.

So, on to the replay, and then the other Pork Pie Hat tapes.

The Music Will Never Stop 69

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

You may recall there were two tapes — “Coffeehouse Jam #1″ and “Jam” — that left gunk all over the heads and sounded like crap on the first play-through. I’d originally thought they were two copies of the same stuff, but they weren’t.

Well, today I tackled “Jam.” I wasn’t expecting much, given how very crappy the sound quality still was on “Coffeehouse Jam #1,” and how horrible this one sounded on first play-through.

I received a very pleasant surprise; the sound quality is mostly pretty good, much better than CJ #1. I didn’t need to filter anything. On the very last track I did run noise suppression and then amplify it, because it’s a very quiet little piece — the drummer and horn player had left, and the bassist and guitarist turned down their amps — but other than that, I didn’t need to mess with the sound at all.

I initially had an hour and seventeen minutes recorded; by the time I’d edited out dead air between numbers and other wasted space I had it down to an hour and thirteen minutes. Ten tracks — two actual songs (“Soul Kitchen” and “Spoonful”), a couple of minutes of the guitar player pretending he was Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, and seven jams, one of which seemed several times as if it might turn into the Dead’s “St. Stephen” but never quite did.

Drums, bass, trumpet, and guitar — and I have no record of who they were. It’s possible that they were a local band called Pork Pie Hat, as I had scribbled “P.P.H.” at the top of the enclosed song list, then crossed it out.

That song list, by the way, is a mess; four of the seven jams are just listed as counter numbers with no titles, the Hendrix wannabe stuff is called “bits of guitar,” one jam is inaccurately described as “acoustic guitar, no drums,” when it’s actually electric guitar and bass (but I got the “no drums” right), etc. The two song titles are correct.

Whoever it is, they were pretty good — bluesy and jazzy. Jam #4 (I numbered the first five, gave the others names) is a twenty-minute tour-de-force, though there are a few awkward seconds in the last five minutes — I think they were looking for a way to end it neatly, and it took awhile to coordinate it.

For that matter, they gave “Soul Kitchen” seven minutes and “Spoonful” got ten — they didn’t rush through anything.

Anyway, it’s good music. It’s playing right now, and I’m typing in time with it. Nice.

That leaves eighteen tapes I haven’t played, and maybe half a dozen I may try again now that I’ve gotten better at keeping the heads clean and demagnetized.

The Music Will Never Stop 68

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Okay, here’s the situation:

There are two tapes involved. One is labeled “Coffeehouse Jam #1.” The other is labeled simply “Jam.” I had this theory that the latter was an edited edition of the former, simply because I had no idea what else it could be.

I tried playing the first one, and the volume faded quickly; ten minutes in it was virtually inaudible. I couldn’t tell what I was hearing, other than tape hiss and silence, and later squeaking that I thought meant the capstans (which have had no maintenance since 1968) needed lubrication. I stopped without playing Side 2.

I put that aside and tried playing the second one. It started fairly well, but about fifteen-twenty minutes in it, too, faded to near-inaudibility.

So I took a look at the heads on the tape recorder, and they were black with gunk — not just the usual ferrous powder, but gunk, black sticky stuff.

In fact, a blob of gunk had built up so that the tape wasn’t actually touching the heads at all — hence the diminished volume; the recorder was trying to play tapes from an eighth of an inch away.

I cleaned off the heads — and then I realized there was gunk on the guideposts and rollers, too. So I cleaned those off — mostly; there’s one roller that was so bad I couldn’t really get it clean.

That mostly fixed the squeaking; that was from the tapes being pulled across the gunk on the guideposts. Nothing to do with the capstans.

Then I played Side 2 of the first tape. More rapid fade-out. I looked at the heads. Black.

Apparently what’s happened is that after sitting untouched for so long (over forty years) the adhesive holding the oxide to the tapes has deteriorated to the point it’s coming off with the oxide and building up black goo on every surface the tapes touch.

However, the more they’re played, the less goo they deposit. The less signal remains on the tape, too, of course, especially in the higher frequencies.

So I recorded them again, trying to get the optimum balance between the improving cleanliness and the deteriorating signal. I got a passable copy of the first tape, but I don’t seem to be able to filter out the tape hiss without significantly damaging the music. I made five tries on the first track, and the last is… marginally acceptable.

Haven’t gone further, yet.

Oh, and having now actually heard what’s on there — the two tapes are not the same. Sigh. I’ll either have to record and clean up both, or just decide some of this music is expendable.

I got Side 1 done. The middle part was the weakest, but the last half-hour was actually pretty decent. That part is two sixteen-minute jams. The first is entirely free-form, but the three musicians knew what they were doing, so it’s fun. The second drifts in and out of recognizable songs, most notably “Smoke On the Water.”

The higher frequencies are weak throughout. Nothing much I can do about it. Boosting the treble boosts the tape hiss, too, so that’s not a good solution.

Oh, the first hour is fourteen different chunks of music. A few involve singing; one I actually recognize and has intelligible lyrics, though I forget the title.

The good stuff is those last two jams, though.

As for Side 2, I had to decide whether any of it was worth saving. It was only 44 minutes; the rest of the tape was blank.

Much of that 44 minutes is filled with seventeen different versions of the silly children’s song “Alice.”

The quality is pretty terrible throughout. The enclosed song list says some of it was recorded “with Tim Ebacher’s lousy microphone.” I barely remember Tim Ebacher. His brother Chris I remember, but not Tim.

The song list, incidentally, is not in my handwriting. I don’t recognize it.

The only reason to save this… well, there are two reasons. First, some of the variants on “Alice” are funny. Second, and more importantly, these are the only recordings I have of these people, some of whom I haven’t seen since 1973, including one who was murdered while hitchhiking in Michigan a couple of years later. Which is especially macabre given that in one of the variants he sings, Alice goes hitchhiking and gets murdered.

In the song she gets sliced up, where in real life he was deliberately run down (as half a dozen witnesses testified), but still.

So I mulled it over.

I decided to save them, and just finished editing them.

Some of the variants are funny; some are just stupid. The best is probably the original “Alice” as sung by the cast of “The Maltese Falcon” — Sidney Greenstreet for most of it, Humphrey Bogart as Alice, and Peter Lorre for the “Oh my goodness” lines.

Which was done entirely by Chris, the guy who was murdered while hitchhiking. I’d forgotten how amazingly good he was at impressions. The reason he was hitchhiking in Michigan when he was killed was that he was trying to make it as a stand-up comic, and had just made the jump from open-mic nights to paying gigs in small clubs. “Paying,” however, doesn’t mean they paid enough to cover transportation from one gig to the next, so he was thumbing — I think to Ann Arbor.

Chris was the one who wrote the version of “Alice” where she gets murdered while hitchhiking, so he presumably knew it was dangerous. Sigh.

Anyway, that finishes “Coffeehouse Jam #1.” Finally. Still haven’t done the other “jam” tape, though.

The Music Will Never Stop 67

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

The next tape… well, I sorted them out a little more. I have tapes numbered from 0 through 5, then I through IV, and then a bunch with letters or a blank. (A letter usually meant it was recorded off LPs, and it was an initial, e.g., Z for Zappa, M1 and M2 for the Moody Blues, D for David Bowie, etc.)(D because B was reserved for the Beatles.)

So I decided to do No. 0.

A note of explanation: In the summer of 1973, between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I had a day job in a ladder factory in my home town of Bedford, MA, but spent evenings and weekends hanging out with friends, including my now-wife Julie, many of whom were still in high school or had just graduated.

One of the local churches provided space for a weekend coffeehouse where local teens could hang out without booze or dope. They had live music as often as they could manage. Several of my friends volunteered at the coffeehouse, and several acquaintances were among the performers.

So I hung out at the coffeehouse, drinking tea, and I recorded several of the acts. That’s what tapes 0 through 5 are, at least in theory. Tapes I through IV are other stuff I recorded live various places around Bedford. In theory.

So, Tape #0 — I don’t know why it’s zero instead of one. The writing on the box is badly faded, but appears to be dated July 14, 1973. The title is completely illegible. There’s a sticker on the front that says “NEEDS EDITING,” and an insert on lined paper listing songs.

The first forty minutes or so are a coffeehouse performance by a bluegrass band; if they have a name, I either didn’t write it down or it’s in that faded-to-illegibility title on the spine. The tape starts in the middle of a song, so apparently I didn’t get there early enough to set up in advance. There are eleven more songs in the set, including at least one original; they’re mostly classics (“Rocky Top,” “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” etc.), but “Lookin’ Straight Ahead” was introduced as a song Allen wrote (whoever Allen was), and a couple of others I don’t recognize.

There’s a lot of crowd noise; at least once someone knocked over one of my microphones. And the sound quality leaves something to be desired, but I’m hoping I can clean the heads again and maybe get a better playback, because the actual music is pretty good.

One factor to consider: At least nine of the eleven songs are bluegrass standards, and frankly, pretty much any decent recording of them is going to sound much the same — it’s not an art form where there’s a huge amount of individual expression. One rendition of “I’ll Fly Away” sounds much like another.

So maybe I should just get myself an album or two of bluegrass standards and give up on this mess.

But I did edit and save it. It’s not great, but it’s here.

After the bluegrass set ends there are a few minutes of two of my sisters playing the dulcimer and limberjack (an Appalachian toy that doubles as a percussion instrument) and singing “Going Up Cripple Creek” and “Go Tell Aunt Rhodey.”

I saved that simply because I don’t have much by them, especially not from the one who died in 1986.

And then, inexplicably, there’s what I thought was the soundtrack album to “A Clockwork Orange.”

That’s what it said on the list, and it sounded reasonable — but it’s wrong. What I actually have here is “Walter Carlos’ A Clockwork Orange,” which is the album Carlos released because he wasn’t happy with some of what Kubrick did with his music. It’s all the music he wrote for the movie, regardless of whether it actually made it into the film, and doesn’t include any music performed by anyone else.

I have all of Side 2, which I recorded first, and about half of Side 1, which cuts off in the middle of “Timesteps.”

Side 1 consisted of “Timesteps” and “March from A Clockwork Orange,” the latter being (intentionally and openly) heavily derivative of the Fourth Movement of Beethoven’s Ninth. As I may have mentioned some time ago, I had another tape with a few cuts I thought were from the soundtrack, used to fill out a side. Now that I’ve finally realized I was working with a different album I’ve been able to identify all the pieces I had there; three were duplicates I’ve now removed, and two… well, they were actually all one track, “March from A Clockwork Orange,” where I had mistakenly inserted a break during a brief pause.

So I now have everything from that album except the last three minutes of “Timesteps.” The quality isn’t great, but it’ll do.

That’s Side 1. For Side 2 the insert just says “dance music (contra).”

So I played Side 2, and yes, it’s contra dance music. Where the hell did I get this? The sound quality is excellent. On the first few tracks it’s a full band — fiddle, pennywhistle, and I don’t know what all.

The insert says it’s not the entire side, and it’s not — but it’s more than half. Some of the later tracks are just recorder or piano, not the full band.

There were thirteen in all. I saved ‘em, and will see if any of my surviving sisters can identify them.

The final forty minutes were blank.

Another tape done.

The Music Will Never Stop 66

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Oh, dear. The next tape was just labeled “Stuff,” and I had no idea what was on it, but I recognize it. It’s from a drunken prank I played on a friend of mine who was a late-night DJ on WPRB. I really should have confessed the next day, when we were sober, but I didn’t; I made this tape to follow through on it.

The prank was that I told him that I’d found out from contacts in the music business that every song Jim Morrison wrote for the Doors was actually part of a single massive suite that was going to be his masterwork. Except that my victim believed me completely, and wanted me to tell him details.

So this tape is a bunch of Doors music rearranged more or less randomly into a fraction of this alleged “suite.”

And there’s even more crap after it, but this I didn’t remember at first. It appears to be an attempt at improvisational comedy. It’s not quite as bad as the stuff on Side 2 of the previous tape, so far.

Ah, but eventually I recognized the other voice. This is me and Steve goofing on the idea of Gabriel’s trumpet. Steve played Gabriel, explaining that the end of the world was delayed because of a stuck valve on his trumpet; I was an interviewer.

After a slow start, this got kind of amusing.

“…I complained, and asked, why couldn’t it be the last clarinet?”

Steve really got into it.

In fact, listening to it again, I conclude that the worst parts are when I attempted to contribute; the best parts are when I got Steve started and just let him roll. It’s all improvised, ex tempore, but by the end of the bit Steve’s created this entire alternate mythology about how God provides every planet with its own Bible, and how Earth is too new to have ever heard of some of the senior angels, such as Oscar, the former director of the Heavenly Choir, who retired before Earth was created. The trumpet note that destroys worlds is A below middle C, and not being able to play it safely makes horn practice challenging.

Gabriel had originally played the clarinet, it seems, but when his family got him the job destroying worlds he had to switch to the trumpet because God had already written “trumpet” in hundreds of different Bibles and wasn’t willing to change it.

I’m saving this. May send Steve a copy.

The last half-hour of Side 1, after that stuff, was blank, so I assumed Side 2 would be, too.

Wrong. Instead there’s half an hour of me experimenting with an electric guitar, seeing just what sounds I could get out of it. Answer: Some very weird ones. Some of them are still kind of neat. Every so often it sounds as if it’s about to turn into music, but it never quite does. (I never really could play the guitar.)

I’m guessing this was with a borrowed guitar, probably Paul’s; I think this dates to well before I bought my own. Besides, there appears to be a wah-wah pedal involved, and I don’t have one, but Paul did. And I don’t think I can get such interesting feedback effects with my current amp.

I’m saving that, too. I might even find a use for it somewhere on a soundtrack.

After that, the rest of the tape was blank.

The Music Will Never Stop 65

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

Well, that was interesting.

The first side of the tape has eighteen tracks, more or less, taking up a mere thirty-eight minutes.

The first five are Martha and her guitar — two originals, a Beatles tune, an old folk song, and a Joni Mitchell number that probably called for a little more range than Martha really had. The song I’ve had running through my head intermittently since 1974 turns out to be called “Photosynthesis” — there’s no enclosure, but inside the box the bottom has a track listing, and the lid has personnel.

The personnel were Martha, me, three of my four roommates, and Nadia Benabid, who was another roommate’s Moroccan girlfriend.

That only covers fifteen of the eighteen tracks, though. The last few were added later. For that matter, #15 is dated February 12.

I’m listed as playing jew’s harp and providing vocals on “Mountain Dew” (track #7), but I’m pretty sure I also played jew’s harp on “San Francisco Bay Blues,” and the unlisted tracks all feature me playing dulcimer.

Anyway. The first five tracks are Martha, then there are two silly group numbers, then Martha and Ray (I think) do a duet of “Mobile Line,” then Fred and Nadia have two and a half duets (there are two takes of “Proud Mary”), then Nadia has three solos — two in Spanish and an instrumental.

And finally there are three instrumental tracks — “Go Tell Aunt Rhodey” and two rather tuneless jams — with me playing dulcimer and Josh playing jew’s harp and Martha (I think) playing kazoo.

Martha and Nadia were both pretty good. Ray was okay. The less said about Fred and me, and especially Josh, the better. The only place I tried to sing was on “Mountain Dew,” and that was because I was the only one who remembered any of the verses, though everyone joined in on the chorus.

I’m glad to have this stuff. This is from about a week before I flunked out of Princeton, a time I get nostalgic about.

The recording quality is mostly quite good. Nadia wasn’t close enough to the mike for her three solos, so I had to amplify them to the point there’s audible tape hiss, but otherwise it’s fine. I did punch up a few tracks a little, just ’cause, but it wasn’t necessary.

As for Side 2, most of it is blank. The box says it’s got the Mothers’ “Over-Nite Sensation” on it, but it doesn’t. The first fifteen minutes or so, unfortunately, are taken up by a failed attempt at comedy by me and my high school friend Glenn Cooper, with a lot of the jokes lifted from the humor ‘zine I published my senior year of high school.

It’s really, really bad. Not funny at all. I’m embarrassed. I’m not going to preserve any of it. It can all go, as far as I’m concerned, and since it’s mostly me (Glenn’s only in about two minutes of it) and Glenn’s dead, I think it’s my call.

So I’m saving the music, and not the “comedy.” I’m debating whether I should erase the “comedy,” just to be sure.

The Music Will Never Stop 64

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Next up: The box just says “YES” on the spine. There’s no enclosure, nothing scribbled on the back.

It starts off with a somewhat fuzzy, low-volume recording of “Fragile,” which I already have from CD. That’s followed by “Close to the Edge,” logically enough.

And after that, “To Be Over,” from “Relayer,” fills out the first side of the tape. (I apparently realized, not being an idiot for once, that “The Gates of Delirium” wouldn’t fit. Not sure why I chose “To Be Over” rather than “Sound Chaser,” though — either one would do.)

Oh, that’s interesting. Side 2 does not start with the rest of “Relayer,” as I’d expected, but with “Tales from Topographic Oceans.”

That would leave maybe ten-fifteen minutes at the end, I guess. We’ll see what’s there.

It’s “Sound Chaser,” from Side 2 of “Relayer.” So I never did fit “The Gates of Delirium,” it would seem.

I also didn’t include anything that isn’t already in my iTunes library, so this tape will go directly into the discard pile.

And after that I’m debating which tape to tackle next. I’ve got King Crimson/McDonald and Giles, and two reels of the Moody Blues, and a random assortment of albums where the tape’s label is partially illegible, but I think it might be time to start on some of the live recordings, if only for a change of pace.

There’s one that says it’s recorded at 7.5 IPS instead of 3.75. It’s dated February 3, 1974 on the box, and says it’s Martha Esersky and others.

Martha was the girlfriend of one of my college roommates. She wrote a few songs, sang, and played guitar, though I don’t think she ever tried to turn pro. I’m sort of in touch with her on Facebook, where it says she’s a retired high school teacher who’s now a cookbook reviewer/food writer for Publisher’s Weekly. I haven’t played this tape since, oh, at least 1977. I still remember one of her songs, though — well enough to hum the chorus, anyway.

I think that one will probably be next.

The Music Will Never Stop 63

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Okay, after reel #Z came reel #D: “David Bowie,” it says.

The enclosed song list (which, as usual, has some omissions and a few wrong titles, because I guessed at the titles from listening, I didn’t copy them off the albums) is accurate as far as it goes.

What we have here is Side 1 of “Hunky Dory,” followed by all of “Space Oddity,” “The Man Who Sold the World,” and “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” and then all of “Aladdin Sane” except the title track.

Apparently I didn’t care for Side 2 of “Hunky Dory,” or for “Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?).”

My collection already held “The Man Who Sold the World,” “Ziggy Stardust,” and “Aladdin Sane,” from CD, so I didn’t need to bother with those. That left three sides of early Bowie.

Now, the thing here is that the quality is inconsistent, but in the opposite direction from, say, the Isle of Wight festival. It starts off pretty weak, but then gets steadily better as the tape goes on, until a few minutes into Side 2 it’s as good as I could reasonably ask.

Unfortunately, the stuff I didn’t already have was at the beginning.

I re-recorded the side of “Hunky Dory,” in hopes of getting a cleaner copy. It did come out better on the first couple of tracks, but after that I couldn’t hear any difference, so I didn’t bother to re-do “Space Oddity.”

I tweaked the bass and treble levels, and managed to get acceptable MP3s of everything I wanted, though there’s still some audible tape hiss in places. Mostly right at the beginning.

By the way, I know it’s the 1972 issue “Space Oddity,” and not any of the other incarnations of that album (which started out as just “David Bowie,” in 1969), because it’s missing the song “(Don’t Sit Down),” which wasn’t true of any earlier versions. They didn’t all list it, according to the audiophile websites, but they all included it until the 1972 re-release.

And I know it’s not a later version because I’m pretty sure I recorded this circa 1973. So it must be the ’72.

So, three sides of Bowie added to my library., and another tape down. Twenty-four to go.

The Music Will Never Stop 62

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Next up: A tape where the “Reel No.” box is filled in with a big Z, and the title is “Zappa & Mothers.” It’s also recorded at 7.5 IPS, instead of 3.75 — says so on the box — which is why I decided to tackle it next.

It starts off with “Over-Nite Sensation,” which I already had, and the quality isn’t noticeably better than the LP, even though the LP wasn’t exactly pristine, so I’ll ignore that.

But then there are two jazz fusion albums. I think the first one is “Hot Rats,” though I’ll want to double-check that, and the other is definitely “The Grand Wazoo.”…

Oh, wait! There’s a note scribbled upside-down on the back of the box. It is “Hot Rats,” and, it says here, Side 1 of “The Grand Wazoo.”

It’s not exactly Side 1, as it cuts off in the middle when the tape ran out, but I’m not sure whether that was near the end of Side 1 or somewhere on Side 2. I think I also missed a bit of “Hot Rats” at the end of Side 1 of the tape.

Yeah, I missed 10-15 seconds of “Son of Mr. Green Genes,” and the last three minutes of “The Grand Wazoo.” Oh, well.

Y’know, there’s another tape further down the stack that says it’s got “Over-Nite Sensation” on it, as well (along with stuff I recorded live). I’m not sure why I recorded it multiple times. It’s a good album, but not that good.

As for “Hot Rats” and “The Grand Wazoo,” I recognize the virtuosity that went into them, but I still don’t much care for them. I simply don’t like (most) jazz from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. Not even the fusion stuff.

But they’re here, so I edited ‘em in.

All done. Twenty-five left.

The Music Will Never Stop 61

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

So I was down to twenty-seven tapes…

Or not.

The next tape’s box said “The Giant Rat of Sumatra” on the spine, and it contained a neatly-typed list saying it had Firesign Theatre’s “The Tale of the Giant Rat of Sumatra” and “Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers,” followed by “Monty Python’s Previous Record” and “Another Monty Python Record.” This list was accurate, and I already had all of those but “Giant Rat” in my MP3 collection.

So I recorded that in Audacity, but the quality was pretty bad.

On a whim, I tried the head demagnetizer again, and this time it worked a whole hell of a lot better. I must have not done it right before. The sound quality went from lousy to very decent. I re-recorded “Giant Rat,” and got a pretty clean copy.

But that means I may want to (eventually) give the last half-dozen tapes I did another go, and see if I can do better by them. I’ve fished them out of the discard heap and set them aside for later.

For now, though, I have twenty-six more tapes — half the original fifty-two — left that I haven’t done anything with yet.