I’ve finally started a project I’ve intended to do since I moved into this house: I am converting the records in this house to MP3. I’m focusing on the brittle pre-vinyl ones, some of which are unlabelled or pressed only on one side.
This presents some technical difficulties. Keep in mind that I am the post-casette-tape-era kid who wondered, when playing one of them itty bitty records for the first time, how on earth the cousins who had cut this particular album had managed to modulate their voices to be so low in concert.
Today the issue was why my record player wouldn’t play through the computer louder. I had the right adapter, a really neat little device which takes the old red-and-white fat plugs and channels them through an earphone jack… could it be that the grooves in the records had worn out? OK, even I’m not that stupid. Was there a bad wire someplace?
Then I remembered that the record player used to hook in through some other box I never could figure out a reason for… generally had a radio tuner or some such… so I hunted one down in the attic.
It had a bar antenna in the back and an eight-track. So I had a record player hooked to my iMac through an eight-track deck. one of those days when you feel like you’re on the set of some low-budget sci-fi flick.
Unfortunately the music isn’t proving as interesting as I might have hoped. Frequently the unlabeled stuff turns out to be Louis Armstrong or some such, something it would be pretty easy to get a CD of. One huge brittle disc with instructions scratched on its center says I need a red-shaft steel needle; presumably because I don’t, it makes a migraine-inducing hiss.
One album has truly lived up to its packaging, though — Pick In One Hand, Rifle In The Other. It’s a Cold War-era recording of the Albanian army chorus, or some such, singing songs with titles like “To a Woman Guerrillla” and “All The Youth Of Our Village Have Gone To War.” The jacket copy is predominantly in Chinese. The really militaristic stuff is creepy — satisfyingly so — but the rest of it reminds me of listening to the Robert Shaw Chorale at Christmas. Also, more logically, Giancarlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors.
So I’ve got the Albanian communists, I’ve got the Hunter College High School Class of 1966 Senior Sing (I love that my landlady, who ended up proving to be an economics whiz at MIT, is presumably on that album with her all-girl class singing a song whose lyrics amount to “math is hard”), I have some old O-Kehs and some unlabled brittle disks, some Rimsky-Korsakoff and a few popular songs, etc etc etc… who wants in on these goods?