The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

21 December 2003

Prehistoric karaoke

Test records, as a rule, don't get a whole lot of play. I know that I trot out one or two to adjust settings on the ancient stereo system I own (receiver and speakers turn 30 next year), mostly speaker phasing and such, and then back they go onto the shelf to be ignored for the next few years.

I was reshelving records today when I found something identified as a Radio Shack Disc-O-Mat, which I remembered to be a 11.75-inch foam circle one plants on the turntable platter in a desperate attempt to bleed off static charges. I hadn't seen one in a while, but I knew it wasn't supposed to have a mid-Sixties Capitol rainbow label, visible through cutouts in the sleeve, so I popped out the disc to see what was there.

What was there was a strange little 1966 issue (T 2504) titled Sing the Top-40 Hits, billed as "instrumental re-creations of the original backgrounds." Today, of course, you can find CDs full of stuff like this to feed your karaoke machine, but I don't remember there being any demand for this sort of thing back in the Sixties, though Capitol did turn out an LP called Stack-O-Tracks which consisted of Beach Boys backing tracks minus (most of) the vocals.

And it boggles the mind, even today, to imagine someone singing "Walkin' My Cat Named Dog" (miscredited to Norman Tanega on the label) along with this uncredited slightly-above-garage-band backing.

Posted at 12:34 PM to Tongue and Groove


How MANY of your records have you looked at? (evil grin) You might wanna go by and see Terk.

Posted by: wamprat at 12:41 AM on 22 December 2003

In the past week? Maybe seventy-five percent of them. (The LPs, anyway; I have yet to crack open any of the boxes of 45s.)

Posted by: CGHill at 7:49 AM on 22 December 2003

You're not such a relic just yet. I'm only 34, and I am sitting here looking at my recently-played vinyl copy of Cheap Trick's Live At Budokan. A good-sounding recording is a good-sounding recording, format be damned! (I'm actually impressed at the bass response on that record, even on my crappy turntable.)

Posted by: Phil at 7:51 PM on 22 December 2003

Assuming the best possible media and playback equipment in all cases, I believe that vinyl is actually slightly superior to digital as recorded on CD; the maximum fidelity on a Compact Disc is high, but the maximum on vinyl is just a bit (no pun intended) higher.

Of course, I don't have the best possible anything, but it wasn't until the onset of 20-bit remastering that, for instance, Santana's Abraxas CD came anywhere close to the sound of the LP.

Posted by: CGHill at 8:09 PM on 22 December 2003

But, have you actually OPENED the covers and checked which LPs are in which sleeves?
(Dear Santa, I can explain...Terk did it!)

Posted by: wamprat at 9:04 AM on 23 December 2003

I have spotted only a couple of mismatches, and given my slack attention to detail in recent years, those could just as easily be my fault as they could the Terkster's.

Posted by: CGHill at 9:22 AM on 23 December 2003