Rescued a bunch of “Discocarte”- postcard records on the Marolles flea market last Sunday, shortly before I saw the rest of the box getting destroyed in the rain. Kinda sad, kinda not. Most people who´ve never seen a postcard record, seem to like the idea. Like an E-mail with a picture and an MP3 attached. Only much cooler!
Until they hear the music …
The small scanner is not in the picture, but you can see me digitizing postcard records at our house in Brussels with my portable record player:
It´s been raining quite a bit here in Brussels over the past days, so here´s a record about “A Rainy Day”. Suske & Wiske is one of the most famous and successful Belgian comics series. Since its creation in 1945, it sold 145 million copies. This promotional multi-media item for kids, produced for German food brand Knorr, is a good example of Belgian multilingualism. Side A is in Flemish and side B is in French. The four-page comic insert also has speech balloons in both languages, so you can read along while you listen to the record.
If this very thin Flexi-Disc only contained spoken word adventures of Suske & Wiske, I wouln´t have recorded them. Instead, there´s a funny little tune mixed into the story. Kinda power-pop meets nerve-racking noise…
In May, I bought this flexi disc at a flea market in Istanbul. It wasn´t really cheap but I didn´t mind. I was on vacation and wasn´t going to pass on a 10″ flexi disc that runs on 78RPM. When I saw it, I immediately though: “blog!” But I didn´t listen to it until I got home. Then I did a little online research.
The record has Cold War written all over it. At the time of its release, Turkey was a buffer zone against the Soviet empire. Tens of thousands of these propaganda flexis – recorded and pressed in the Unites States by Voice Of America – were given away for free. From the feeling and graphics of the flexi, I´d guess in the midlle of the 1950s. It takes us back to the Turkey of films like From Russia With Love (1963) and Topkapi (1964), a country in-between modernism and tradition. Only, this record is not dramatized fiction, but real.
Celal İnce, born in 1921, was the king of Turkish tango in the 40s and 50s. In the in the late 50s he immigrated to the US and has lived in Chicago ever since. İnce was in the wine business for forty years and now, aged 95, is still working as an executive wine consultant. Recently Celal İnce´s Sana Nerden Gönül Verdim was featured on „Istanbul Tango 1927-1953“, the fourth volume of the German CD compilation series Old World Tangos. The series is illustrated by none other than Berlin underground cartoonist and fine art painter Guido Sieber.
In the anthemic marching song Dostluk Şarkısı, Celal İnce praises the friendship of Turkey and the United States: “We were blood brothers in Korea/Our determination is to live free , to ensure peace in the world”. It might be full of pathos and propaganda, but I can think of worse causes. The Voice Of America probably did more damage to dictatorships by broadcasting Jazz music to Eastern Europe, than all the missiles they planted near the borders.
Whatever, it´s still only a pop song…
The flip features some words by Namik Kemal on Turkish history and quotes of Franklin Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Patrick Henry, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and Ziya Gökalp.
Some footage of the old Yeşilköy Airport, now Istanbul Atatürk International Airport, from From Russia With Love (1963)
Footage of Istanbul street life in 1964 from Topkapi (1964):
I bought some more Akbaba magazines while I was in Istanbul. This issue from March 3rd 1962, depicting US-sailors in Turkey, seems to tie in with the above record. The bold nudity is surprising for an Islamic country. The sexism and racism are not. This type of cartooning was pretty common in the 50s and early 60s all over the world.
The cover and the next two cartoons are by Necmi Riza. The cartoon below is about the Turkish Coup d´etat that took place on May 27, 1960. The politician is waiting for the military to kick his ass.i
This one is obviously about Elisabeth Taylor standing with her lawyer in court.
This issue also has this cartoon by Yurdaer Kalayci.
Yazisiz means “Without words”.
A couple of years ago, I posted a song celebrating the advantages of polyester. While the 4 Cravattos were praising Trevira, this 2-sided flexible record is promoting Diolen. Back then I wrote: ” Today trying to find synthetic clothes from the 1950s is much harder than finding flexible vinyl advertisement records from the same time.”
While that still is right, don´t get the wrong idea. These promotional flexis are still mostly worthless, because there is no market for them. Still, I bet some idiot will offer a copy on ebay soon – for 20 Euros. Of course nobody ever buys these flexi discs for 20 Euros. There´s only a handful collectors of flexis. I´m one of them and I never pay more than 1 Euro.
When will they ever learn,
that records like this one belong in the free-box….
Tommy Kent (born Guntram Kühbeck in 1942 in Munich) recorded the original German cover version of I Need Your Love Tonight for Polydor. It was one of the last songs Elvis cut before he left the US for Germany to serve in the Army. Incidentally, Tommy Kent started his recording career in the flexi-disc business, first recording for Hit-Ton (a postcard record label) and Roxy, a sub-label of Vox-Imago, who also pressed flexis for the Prima label.
Unknown Fred Gutmann´s Prima version of Tommy Kent´s Ich brauche dich dazu, comes complete with reverb vocals and imitation of Tommy´s Bavarian accent. Gutmann recorded another rocker for the Prima label, a fine cover of Billy Sanders´ Daisy du musst schlafen geh´n.
90 Pfennig – that´s what these one-sided Prima flexi-discs sold for. Supposedly a throw-away object for teenagers, 55 years later my copy still plays fine.
Plastic material can be quite durable. It´s possible. that this thin flexi might hold out another 55 years and still be around in 2070.
When nobody will remember what an MP3 was…
Around 1960, the Hallo label out of Rastatt/ Baden-Württemberg, released around four dozen flexi discs, often containing original tunes, to go with their Hallo magazine, a rock´n´roll knock-off of Bravo. I haven´t posted any Hallo flexis, because a book about Hallo and a CD, was soon to be released. That was years ago, but so far, no book. If the book and the CD finally come out, I´ll be happy to buy a copy. Meanwhile, this Hallo flexi is fine blog material: 50 plus years old, defunct label, unknown artists, not available in digital format elsewhere.
Franz von Suppé´s Liebestraum was turned into a Twist hit in 1961 by Charly Cotton and his Twistmakers, a band led by prolific songwriter Christian Bruhn. I´ve posted a bunch of versions of Der Liebestraum als Twist over the years, by Jimmy Brown (Tempo), Bert Landers (Tip) and Bob Gerry (Baccarola and the Gary Edwards Combo (Oriole). This Accordeon-Jazz-version, typical of the 1950s trend of Jazz-takes on Classical music, predates Charly Cotton´s.
The condition of this flexible record seems to be the result of a familiar scene. Flexis were cheap products for teenagers, teenagers that lived in the same rooms with their little brothers and sisters. Like I did with my little brother until I was 13 years old. Frequently we would get in fights. I´m sorry to admit it, but my brother always lost.
In revenge, he would take his crayons and draw all over my stuff…
Just noticed that the last post was my 700th post since I started this blog in 2007. To celebrate all these wasted years, here´s another flexible Birthday 78rpm postcard record, published by the London based Melody Cards company. These postcard records offer perfect copyright-friendly blog material: anonymous artists, no copyright noted, 50 plus years old and of course never reissued.
Plus, underneath the crackles and pops, a pretty silly song.
No washboard though….
Happy, Happy Birthday!
Happy, Happy Birthday!
On this anniversary of the day that you were born.
Let´s git goin´ down the track,
Once I´se there ain´t comin´ back,
Git those presents on the rack
Of the WASHBOARD BIRTHDAY SPECIAL
In 1957 Dutch singer Corry Brokken won the second European Song Contest, the Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Europénne. While she is mostly known for her smooth pop ballads, her career got started when she recorded the swingin´ Auto-Scooter´s-Boogie with Albert Van Hoogten´s small indie Ronnex in 1955. Now Ronnex was a hip label, from putting out Bill Haley´s pre-rock´n´roll sides, to Jack Hammer´s crazy twists, to the fuzzed-out beat of the Shake Spears. In the mid-1950s Albert sent his brother, Rene Jan van Hoogten, to the United States to set up a label there. Rene later changed his name to Ray Maxwell, started Moonglow Records, recorded a bunch of very cool rockin´records and eventually discovered the Righteous Brothers.
To celebrate tonight´s 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest, here´s a one-sided flexible 45, recorded by Corry Brokken and her Hi-Fives for BP in the early 1960s