One of the things about producing hip hop music is that you buy a lot of records. Sure some people these days (I like to call them heathens) sample from CD‘s or, if their souls are truly damned for eternity, MP3’s. Personally, I find digging for records to be one of the most enjoyable aspects of making hip hop music – apart from at the end when you have pay for them. I’m yet to find a way around that.
Anyway, a corollary to the digging of records is that you end up buying strange vinyl sometimes. Over a few years this accumulates into a pile of odd records with which you don’t know what to do. They occupy a shameful corner of the shelf from which you constantly seek to steer visitors away.
Todays list? The Top 5 Strange Records I own (in no particular rank):
1. The Loneliest Journey
This is a sometimes narrated collection of original recordings that relate the launch and problems of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. There’s everything here from JFK‘s speeches to congress to a radio throw from (Australian media stalwart and generally dodgy fellow) Derryn Hinch (he doesn’t, however, say “That’s life and I’m Derryn Hinch” which would have been killer).
Admittedly, I have sampled it. But I have no idea where to put it on my shelf. Various artists, maybe? Is that disrespectful of JFK or overly complimentary of Mr. Hinch?
2. The 1976 Cheltenham High School production of “Oliver”
This one truly boggles my mind. I was born and spent my early years a few suburbs across of Cheltenham (in Melbourne, Australia). I have no real idea what the socio-economic profile of the area was in 1976, but I’m guessing if they could afford to record, mix and press to vinyl their high school production of Oliver then they must have had a few coins in their pocket.
It’s terrible, by the way.
I actually find this record fascinating and I’ve been dying to use it but I don’t know enough like-minded nerds.
The record is actually a horse race call (by some famous Australian race caller whom I’ve never heard of) and the idea is that you place bets on which horse is going to win the race (there are six options). I know, I know! “It’s a scam,” you cry. “If you’ve played the record once then you will always know who is going to win!” Not so, my distrustful compadres.
You see, the record is pressed in a fancy-pants way (it took me a while to suss it out) so that when you put the stylus down at the start the race could play through in any one of six possible ways. Tricky stuff. And gimmicky – yes – but fun.
4. The Heliocentric Worlds of Lunar-Ra
I picked this one up from some random op-shop (I think American’s call them “thrift stores” but I was never really sure about what that meant) but it’s an absolute gem for a number of reasons.
Firstly, Side A is a collection of bizarre synthesiser odysseys that range from 80’s aerobics exercise music to neo-Celtic-meets-post-modern-Phrygian-funk. Then, bizarrely, Side B is a selection of readings from the prophecies of Nostradamus (complete with an affected accent that has never been adopted by any person or community… ever). But it doesn’t end there.
After owning the record for about a year, I pulled it out to have a chuckle over it with a friend and found that the paper inserts which I had believed were record sleeves were in fact a set of mystical tools of trade including: a full set of cut-out Tarot cards; designs for a homemade “Pyramid of Power”; a numerological chart which apparently can tell my future (apparently my future is shrouded in mystery because I can’t figure out how the chart works – although I was drunk when I tried); and an incomprehensible codex of prophecies.
I feel at one with the benevolent universal spirit, already.
On a side note, when I went looking for the image above I actually found it on an audiophile (read: wanker) website where it had sold as a “rare and collectible” item for an undisclosed amount. I sure hope the buyer didn’t spend their savings on it because mine cost me 50 cents and I don’t think it had ever been played. Understandably.
5. A Japanese record on red vinyl of interpretations of the music of Ennio Morricone played largely with traditional Japanese instruments.
I don’t know what the title is because it’s written in katakana but there are only two words to describe it. The second word is “awesome”.
I’d love to say that my list of weird records ends there but I’ve really only scratched the surface. I wonder what bizarre curios the real record diggers (like DJ Shadow) have in their crates.
What strange records do you have?