The Story of Andrew and Matthew

I missed the last two Fridays – sorry, sorry sorry. To make up for my unconscionable neglect, here’s an early Christmas present:

The Gang: Silent Night

This somewhat drunken (?) version of Silent Night was recorded on Christmas day 1955 on a 78 rpm recording blank. The handwriting on the label reads “Party… Dec 25/55… Gang – Silent Night… at piano – Rita”

Two sides of a Soundcraft Audition 78 rpm recording blank. This is how people sent audio letters before cassettes were invented. This would have been recorded using a portable record cutting machine similar to this one (on the Sound Preservation Association of Tasmania website).

Side 1

Labeled simply “Message.” The “Sahara Desert” mentioned by the woman is probably the long-gone Sahara Dining Lounge in Edmonton.

Side 2

Labeled “Eleanor at about 9 years of age & Ivy tap dance.” I’m a big fan of tap dance on record.


Following on the heels of the Studio 86 Sessions, for the next few Fridays I’ll be sharing a few “found sound” curiosities from my audio archives. These are one-off recordings by amateurs  on a variety of media such as cassette and 78 rpm recording blanks.

In the 1980s Fisher-Price made a very durable cassette recorder for kids. They came with a cassette with a story recorded on one side (such as the Care Bears or The Cat In The Hat). The other side was blank to “record your world of sounds.”

I used to pick these up all the time when I found them in thrift stores. A lot were duds – songs recorded off the radio, or nothing at all – but others were much more creative.

Here are 3 excerpt from one of my favorites of this type of cassette:

Lorna F.’s Cooking Kitchen

Here’s the recipe:

Lorna and Lisa’s Tomato, Macaroni & Cheese Casserole

2 cups cooked macaroni
1 cup (or 2 cups) grated cheese
12″ can tomatoes
Salt and pepper and whatever you wish

First do the dishes. Pour strained macaroni into 28″ x 30″ casserole dish. Pour on tomatoes. Add grated cheese. Add salt and pepper and whatever you wish.

Go Suck An Egg

Excellent extended vocal technique.

Double Scream Supreme

St. Johns Youth: Twist and Shout

Could St. Johns Youth be from the St. John’s School, a boys-only boarding school in Stony Plain, Alberta (now closed)? And just what is this toilet that the song is dedicated to? So many mysteries.

The Beatles recorded the song in 1964, but it was a cover – it had already been recorded by the Top Notes (1961) and The Isley Brothers (1962).

This brings The Studio 86 Sessions to an end. Hope you’ve enjoyed it. Check back on Friday for the start of a new “found sound” series.

2 Blonde Crew: Hold On

Wikipedia lists more than 40 songs called Hold On. The one on this cassette was recorded by Wilson Phillips in 1990. For those of you don’t know (I include myself), Wilson Phillips was (is?) a group, not a person, comprised of Carnie Wilson, Wendy Wilson (daughters of Beach Boy Brian Wilson) and Chynna Phillips (daughter of John and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas). Isn’t Wikipedia a grand resource? 

Neetomendo: Straight Up

The original was a big hit for Paula Abdul in 1988.

Kylee: Dream A Little Dream Of Me

This is on the flipside of last week’s version of Crying by Buck & Shenese. First recorded by Ozzie Nelson and His Orchestra all the way back in 1931, over the years it’s been recorded by many other artists including a hit single by Cass Elliot (with The Mama & The Papas) in 1968.

Buck & Shenese: Crying

Roy Orbison first recorded the song in 1961 and again in 1987 as a duet with k.d. lang, which is perhaps the version that Buck and Shenese would have been more familiar with when they recorded this tape in 1996. There’s no company logo on the label – my guess is that it was recorded at Edmonton’s B-Scene studios.

Jay & Mike: Don’t Worry, Be Happy

My friend Jay takes the lead on the second song we recorded at B-Scene Studios (the first was Girl From Ipanema). We showed up at the studio with a box of assorted instruments and noise-making toys including a slide whistle, kazoos, bells, cymbals and a barking dog toy. I’m pretty sure we didn’t bother with a rehearsal. The original was a monster hit for Bobby McFerrin  in 1988.