Friday, December 4, 2009
The Conclusion of The Tale of The Mad Daddy Acetates!
After barely escaping with my life, from another misadventure that I won't get into here, I made it back to the to the bus area to get back to my hotel.
To my dismay, I noticed the little man at the bus station waiting with a few other people. The thought of being on a four-hour bus trip with the sniveling little man made my stomach crawl and my head ache.
I hailed a burro and decided to take the train instead.
In my compartment I finally got to take a close look at the acetates. My hands shook as I took off the banana leaf wrapping. The proprietor had used the banana leaves as a sort of bubble wrap for the package.
I wondered to myself what could possibly be on these discs? Could they be long lost recordings of The Mad Daddy, aka "The Joker", like his lone 45, WHAT IS A FISTERIS/I LOVE A GOOD PRACTICAL JOKE? The mind reeled at such a prospect!
I took a look at the tan folders the acetates came in. They were labeled TRANSCO. A little quote below the name said; …A "SOUND" INVESTMENT. I chuckled at the horrible pun. According to the sleeve, the company was located in Linden, NJ.
Once back at the hotel, I decided that I had to listen to the acetates, just once! I had to hear what were on these discs! I had my primitive set up to transfer vinyl to compact disc ready and waiting for me.
I lit some candles and got to work.
Here is what I discovered…
Disc One: Crystal Ball (all cuts identical)
Hmmm, this is interesting; its just 20 odd seconds of a sound affect the Mad Daddy used on his show! That's it! It builds slowly with an almost theremin/ethereal quality to it. It's a very recognizable sound if you've ever heard any of the Mad Daddy air checks floating around.
Disc Two: "UMUMH!" (1-8 all cuts identical) recorded 10/13/61
Well, this is a head scratcher! It's less than a second long, and it's just an exaltation of "Umumh!"
I have a number of Mad Daddy air checks and I do not ever remember hearing this on one of his shows. Why would he have gone into a studio to record this? What purpose did it serve?
Disc Three: GIMMICK (long play)
This one held the most promise to me. By looking at the grooves, I could tell that the lengths of the tracks were different. It didn't say "all cuts identical" like the other ones did.
Track One: an almost playful sound that I can't quite place. It seems to bounce back and fourth between the speakers. Short beeps, like picking on piano strings.
Track Two: It's that trademark Mad Daddy Laugh! I don't know much about radio of the time, but I'm guessing this was a way for Pete Myers to get some sounds that he wanted for his radio show in NY. Since these are acetates he couldn't have played them again and again, they would have deteriorated. So he must have used these as a way to put them down onto tape?
Track Three: It's more laughter! But this laugh is the lesser of the two. It's not the "main" laugh he used, but the one he used between songs, etc.
Track Four: Ah, the "wavy gravy" bubbling sound! A minute and 30 seconds of bubbling sounds…
Track Five: More otherworldly sounds, 15 seconds or so long. It sort of sounded like something from "FANTATSICA", the LP by Russ Garcia. The Mad Daddy used songs from this LP for his show.
Track Six: 15 more seconds of ethereal sounds, this time with women's voices. I think he used this during the final seconds of his show?
After listening, I sat back with a far off look on my face.
I had to digest what I had just heard. While not as earth shattering as I had hoped, the acetates were still a lost relic of a hero of mine. Relics that could have easily ended up as a joke gift to someone and lost to history.
The thought of this unnerved me. What other items could be out there, or could already be lost because people didn't know what they had?
This is what makes record hunting so amazing. It really is like excavating. And like excavating, sometimes you uncover gold, and sometimes, like this case, you just uncover something really cool.
I was hoping beyond hope that these acetates held some amazing lost track that Pete Myers had recorded, ala "Fisteris", but it wasn't meant to be. But what I did end up with was something that Pete Myers had held onto for a number of years until his death. Something he had personally used to produce his beloved radio programs.
I had snatched these items from the brink of destruction. That was pretty satisfying.
My only wish is that these had been uncovered before the Norton Records Mad Daddy CD.
If there is ever a volume 2 of WAVY GRAVY, maybe all the acetate's tracks can be included there.