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Episode #37: Dusty Road (Orig. 06/12/2014)

Undusting the oldest records:

Probably my favourite Dusty Road show to ever air on Bait Radio. Perhaps not the most exciting or offering the best music, but definitely the craziest and the dustiest.

The show opened with a couple of oldies tracks, announcing we're going pretty far back. And we did, back to 19th century where the sound recording first began and listened to some of the oldest sound recordings.

The phonograph, device used for recording and playing recorded sound, was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877. He first used a tin foil wrapped around a cylinder, which was impractical for a wider usage. Edison didn't really improve much on his invention, rather focusing on his new invention, the light bulb. But others did. So in the beginning, the recording material became wax cylinders. A thin layer of wax applied around a cylinder. Of course that meant the recordings were very fragile.

Recently they've begun to reconstruct these first recordings, digitally. As I understood, they're taking detailed pictures of the cylinders from which they reconstruct the sound itself. Not by actually playing the records (which could further damage them, as well). Of course the quality is far from good, but considering the obstacles, the results are amazing. One of the problems is they often don't know the speed at which a recording was recorded (that is, how fast the cylinder was rotating), there were no standards back then, and even more, the speed could alter during the recording if even by a small margin. All these factors offset the outcome. For example, there was a recording they long thought it was sung by a female or a child, only to later realize they assumed twice the speed. It was a male voice.

Mind you, this was all before the microphone as we now know it became widespread. That happened in 1920s. They were using a recording horn to record the sound on the cylinder. The oldest known recording (1857) even predates the phonograph! Phonoautogram was used instead. Later the technology evolved, at least materials did. A big breakthrough in terms of quality of sound as well as its durability were the celluloid cylinders, which hit the scene at about the turn of the century. They were that much better that one recording company named itself Indestructible Records, implying the cylinders' durability.

But to relax in between all these great oldest dusty recordings, we listened to some of the latest country music recordings.

The old recordings were made available to the public by University of California, Santa Barbara Library and First Sounds. If you missed the show, I highly suggest you take a look around yourself and have a listen. Terrific stuff, a real look back to life 120 years ago.

Tune in this Sunday, September 30th at 19:00 CET!

Tracks played

1. Lloyd Price - Lawdy Miss Clawdy
2. Pat Boone - Speedy Gonzalez
3. Josh Woodward - Dust
4. John Callaghan - The Outback
5. Dead Can Dance - Saltarello
6. Vox Vulgaris - Stella splendens
7. Ennio Morricone - The Mission
8. The Rusty Brothers - Invisible Queen
9. Brilliant Quartette - Blind Tom
10. Joe Pug - Hymn #101
11. Arthur Collins - All I wants is ma chickens
12. The Hello Strangers - Conococheague
13. Illustrated Manual - Invisible Line
14. Chorus conducted by August Manns - Handel festival: "Israel In Egypt" - excerpt
15. Frank C. Stanley - Auld lang syne
16. E. Christina Herr & Wild Frontier - Follow Your Heart
17. Chatham County Line - The Carolinian
18. Paddy Killoran - Sligo Maid's Lament
19. Three Tall Pines - Hard Rain
20. J. W. Myers - Bell buoy
21. Crownover - Make It All Alright
22. Sweetwater String Band - Behind The Wheel
23. Robert Euvino - Under an old tree

Posted on September 28th, 2018

About the author


News writer, ex-presenter

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Comments (1)
Well, that's the real Blast From The Past, I'd say. The past as far as 120 years back Very interesting read, hoping to catch the show as well!
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