What is STEREOPHONIC SOUND? (Part 1)

What is Stereophonic Sound LogoThink you can speak confidently about the intricate details of stereophonic sound? Think you’ve licked the volatile, short-lived, simultaneous ear experience? Over the next three days, The Prudent Groove will leisurely lift the contents of one coveted RCA Victor insert explaining, in intimate detail, exactly, What is STEREOPHONIC SOUND? The following is presented, without esteemed interruption, by The Prudent Groove. Part 2 will follow tomorrow. I’ll be completely honest and admit that I learned more than I thought I needed while transcribing this informative insert. Maybe RCA Victor was onto something.

RCA Victor Horizontal Logo Presented by RCA Victor

Stereophonic sound on records is finally here. It will be widely discussed, widely written about, and, perhaps, widely misunderstood. It cannot help but be; it is a complex achievement as well as an extraordinary one. We offer the following primer on the subject with the hope that it will both help you in understanding how and why stereo works and enhance the hours of listening pleasure stereo will offer in your home.

Before stereo recording techniques were developed, the impulses of music were picked up by only one microphone. These impulses were then fed to one tape and from there to the conventional, monaural record, which you heard in your living-room through one loudspeaker. The conventional record offered brilliant sound and exciting sound, but, of necessity, it also offered only one-dimensional sound.

Mono Diagram WomanNow, the simple and obvious fact remains that we all have two ears, and we are used to hearing things dimensionally. Generally speaking, your left ear has a tendency to hear what goes on in the left side of a room, your right ear, what goes on in the right side of the room. Your brain then does two jobs. It combines both the impression received by the left ear and that received by the right ear into one total impression which we call music. At the same time, it retains the spatial or dimensional impression, music to the left and music to the right.

The Very Best in Music

Pink UA InsertWhen one thinks of the “very best in music,” certain monumental artists come to mind. Such as Chucho Avellanet, Del Reedes, Jimmy Roselli, Ray Barretto, Farrante & Teicher, Patty Duke, Lena Horne, George Jones and The Beatles… I see nothing out of place here.

United Artists Records, the Proudest Name in Entertainment, would like you to consider these other groundbreaking acts the next time you noodle around your local record store. If that deep urge to hear a crooning Del Reedes sing your favorite Jim Reeves tunes, consider Del Reedes Sings Rim Reeves. Conversely, instead of scratching your head until it bleeds in deep consideration of which (of many) Ferrante & Teicher albums would best suit your planned roofie-filled evening with your next Match.com date, why not make it easy on yourself and let Ferrante & Teicher do the work for you and simply ask for, Only the Best.

With catalog highlights like these, your pride is sure to match that of United Artists Records, and in no time at all you will agree that they are indeed the very best in music.

Do You Dynagroove?

BackTucked away in a Floyd Cramer album titled, Only The Big Ones, this 196? insert by RCA Victor provides in-depth info on quality features that the Herculean record giant had to offer throughout its grandiose tenure. What quality features you ask?

Well, for starters there’s the (then) newly developed system of recording called the Dynagroove. This high-tech system was the first of its kind to use computers to transform the desired audio signal that would be fed into the phonograph’s recording stylus. This would result in a conformation of the groove shape to meet the tracing requirements of the system’s playback stylus. Revolutionary for its time, not to mention a badass name, Dynagroove, in RCA Victor’s own words was “a spectacular improvement in the sound quality of phonograph records.” So, there you go. Want better quality? Buy “demonstrable and inexpensive” RCA Victor records. Contact your local phonograph dealer for more info.

Another amazing feature is the Miracle Surface (complete with its own font and logo!). As far as I can tell, this is a coating of some sort (RCA calls it “an exclusive additive”) that prevents static and actually repels grit, dirt and dust that are the “chief causes of surface noise and premature wear.” The Miracle Surface also goes by another, even more badass name of Agent 317X. I’m not kidding.

What would any 196? advertisement record sleeve be without a special offer? That’s right! For only 25¢ you can (could) receive the COMPLETE RCA Victor catalog which includes “full-color album cover pictures of many best-sellers!” Full-color pictures of album covers? Sign me up! Hey Jack, got change for a dollar?

Just send 25¢, together with your name and address, to:

RCA Victor Record Division

Dept. C

Rockaway, New Jersey 07866

RCA Victor, the most trusted name in sound, whose objective is “to give you the finest phonograph record that can be manufactured” and whose records are “designed to give you many years of trouble-free listening pleasure with proper record care” is still around after all these years, which, is a sizable feat considering they’re the 2nd oldest recording company in United States history. So yeah, they must have been doing something right.

Front

RCA Victor’s Simple Suggestions for Proper Record Care…

Not unlike Mercury Records thinking you’re a buffoon, RCA Victor is there to help you properly care for your record collection.

I find these Record Care inserts fairly frequently, and always enjoy the variations on the visual representations of each label’s suggestion for, well, proper record care.

RCA_ClothFor example, when applying a lint-free, damp cloth, hold said cloth between your thumb and index finger very daintily while flailing out your remaining fingers as wide as you possibly can and never, EVER rub! Got that? No rubbing records, you damned record rubber! STOP IT! After all, “this record is designed to give you many years of trouble-free listening pleasure,” but you’ve got to follow directions. Because, who enjoys trouble-ridden listening pleasure? Not this guy. Ok, moving on.

RCA_StoringRecordsThis suggestion leaves me scratching my head. “Never store records at an angle…” How would one store records at an angle? Do they rest their stack of Harry Belafonte LP’s on top of their dirty whites? Do they rest their Bob Seger albums against the cat? Help me out, somebody! The flower, however, is a nice touch.

RCA_DustFreeThis one I actually dig, but it does however raise a very psychological question: is the record going INTO the sleeve, or is it coming OUT? Not unlike a “glass half full” question… I’ll allow you to ponder as I conclude by stating: How iconic is this image? I mean, this insert is probably nearing 60 years old, and the simplicity of a circle protruding from a square is just as recognizable and distinguishable today as it was in the late 1950’s. Crazy.

The remaining suggestions for the most part make sense: Get your stylus checked (by a guy with a microscope) and never touch the playing surface (hold that record as if it were a hot potato). Never, EVER forget these suggestions and you will have many years of trouble-free listening pleasure, courtesy of RCA Victor.

RCA_Victor_Insert

Wax Trax! Records Insert from 1989

Wax FrontCheat post alert!

Although it is my first, this will NOT be my last post about Wax Trax! Records. Presented is an insert found in my 1989 copy of Front 242’s EP, Never Stop. This was Front 242’s last release on Wax Trax!, having released such groundbreaking albums on the label such as Geography (WAX 034), Face to Face (WAX 054) and Endless Riddance (WAX 004) among several others. My affection towards Front 242, and Wax Trax! specifically cannot be explained without consulting a professional shrink. That, I am, for now, okay with.

Mercury Records Thinks You’re An Unmitigated Muttonhead

Do you own records? Do you use them for flatware when all your dishes are dirty, then wonder why your favorite Yes song constantly skips? Are you lazy and order your kids to flip to the B-side of Moe Bandy’s Greatest Hits just after they’ve housed an entire box of Klondike Bars? Are you just not too fond of common sense? If you answer “yes” to any of these, you’re EXACTLY like me and are in desperate need of an easy to follow, step-by-step guide to help you best manage the quality of your record collection.

Thankfully, Mercury Records is there for us nitwits in our record neglecting times of need.

Your Records are Worth Caring for…

Mercury Records Logo

(Courtesy of Mercury Records)

You buy a record because you like it. Each time you add a record to your collection, you’re building up your personal library of musical favorites. Here’s how to make sure each record you own gives you maximum pleasure each time you play it.

Step 1

 

1. Avoid getting fingerprints or smudges on the playing surface. Handle the record by its edges, or by one edge and the center label.

Step 2

 

2. Hold the record jacket against you and buckle it when removing or replacing records.

 

Step 3

 

3. Remove surface dust before playing records. Do this by gently wiping the record with a slightly damp soft cloth or a specially treated record cloth available at your record dealer.

Step 4

 

4. Store record albums upright as you would books. Single records should be kept in a rack but may be staked or stored vertically with your albums.

Mercury Record - Caring

Jerry Lee Lewis vs. The Pirates

Anti-Piracy InsertI found this sleeve insert hiding inside a 1976 Mercury Records release of a Statler Brothers album. The story strives to inform the record owner of the hundreds of millions of dollars lost to 8-Track pirates. Bruce Meyer, who was apparently a UPI feature columnist, writes the story that still seems relevant some nearly four decades later. Jerry Lee Lewis makes a cameo.

Here is the story for your reading pleasure:

Buyers Bulletin

Tape Piracy… Everyone’s Problem

            Next time you’re out shopping for records or tape—watch for pirates. Not the kind with skull and crossbones and rusty cutlasses—watch for music pirates. There are plenty of them around and, like their 18th Century colleagues, they’re breaking the law, to the tune of $200 million a year.

The modern pirates’ racket is duplicating and selling sound recordings that don’t belong to them, usually as a tape cassette or an eight-track cartridge. Their income goes right into their own pockets.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Lewis One-Man Pirate Smasher

While many recording artists have actively engaged in promoting the fight against antipiracy by appearing before state legislatures and acting as witnesses in court cases, Jerry Lee Lewis has taken the bull by the horns.

John Polk, RIAA investigator based in Nashville, told a NARM antipiracy seminar, that Lewis recently pulled up to a gas station in the south and noticed a rack of pirate tapes in the station. He asked who owned the rack and when told that an unidentified man serviced it weekly from the truck of his car, Lewis took the rack outside the station and smashed it. When the station operator asked him what he should do when the route man came and asked what happened to his rack, Lewis replied: “Tell him ‘Killer’ was here.”

_______________________________________________________________________________________

A music pirate simply buys a record or tape and—without authorization from the company that released the original—makes copies of it. The copies are sold to wholesalers or retailers—or sometimes directly to the consumer.

The price of a pirate tape is usually lower than the original simply because the pirate can make huge profits at a lower retail price. He has none of the expenses of a legitimate recording company. The pirate picks only hit recordings, which means he supports none of the thousands of unknown artists legitimate companies carry at a loss in their search for the music the public wants to hear. The pirate pays no royalties to the performers whose work he steals and usually makes only token payments to music publishers to maintain a semblance of legitimacy.

Piracy flourished despite both federal and state laws against it. Recordings released before February 15, 1972, are protected under the laws of 26 states. Recordings made and releases since that date are covered by the Federal Copyright Law (as amended by Public Law 92-140).

Piracy hurts the record companies, of course. The $200 million that pirates pick up represents some 10 per cent of the total for the music industry and more than one-third of the legitimate industry’s tape sales. But it also hurts the artists, the unions, music publishers and honest retailers and wholesalers who refuse to handle pirated recordings. And in the long run, it’s bound to hurt you—the record buyer—because your money is going not to support the performers you enjoy, but to line the pockets of a criminal.

Watch for pirate recordings. The easiest way to spot them is the label.

IS THERE A PHOTOGRAPH?

Legitimate companies spend a great deal of money to make their products look attractive. Besides quality, multi-color printing, nearly all legitimate tapes and records have professional cover art. But pirate recordings usually have plain labels, often nothing more than a listing of title, artist and the names of the songs.

IS THERE MORE THAN ONE ARTIST ON THE SAME TAPE?

At times legitimate record companies put more than one artist on a record or tape, but it is rare. However, pirates frequently put together tapes composed of the current top hits, therefore many artists are represented. These tapes are often called “The Big Hits” or “Top 20” etc. Make sure you check these multi-artist tapes before purchasing.

WHAT IS THE PACKAGING LIKE?

Also record companies use distinctive cover art for each album and tape, generally depicting the artists in some way. Pirates seldom use photos or drawings of the artists and multicolor printing and art work is rare. Often just a list of tunes and artists appear on the cover and the same design can be used over and over with the titles changed to fit the piece of product. Even the shrink-wrap around an album or tape can tell the story. Legitimate product is professionally wrapped and fits tightly. Pirate tapes and albums usually fit loosely.

IS THERE A STATEMENT ON THE LABEL, something like “Copyright Law complied with” or “Fees and royalties paid”? If there is, it’s probably a pirate; legitimate companies have no need to put such statements on their labels.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU SPOT A PIRATE?

Contact your local police and describe to them exactly what you observed. (In most cities, music piracy is handles by the Bunko-Forgery Division). They will know which local, state, or federal laws may apply.

Alternatively, contact your local Phonogram distributor, the distributor for any legitimate recording company, or the local representative of the Recordings Industry Association of America (RIAA).

It’s up to those who are being injured by the pirates to stop them. That includes those in the records and tapes industry…. and you…

Story by Bruce Meyer UPI feature columnist.

8-tracks

So, Jerry Lee Lewis smashed a rack of 8-Track tapes. Ok, but who had to clean it up?