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April 9, 2013 10:23 AM   Subscribe

"If you spend any time looking for records at flea markets and garage sales, you come to recognize a variety of common vintage records: Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Barbra Streisand, box collections of "best of" classical music, the band America. And then there are the rare finds, the albums that you would never expect to exist. My latest find at the Alameda Point Antiques Fair falls into that category ... it became my possession for $2. And now yours, via SoundCloud, for nothing." Sounds of X-15s, Atlas missiles, Nieuport biplanes, and more.
posted by Chutzler (38 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
I know information wants to be free and all that, and it's awesome that these recordings have been transfered to a digital format and won't be subject to the ravages of physical decay/obsurity, but...

How is uploading the whole album legal? It seems like the selection and arrangement of these sounds would be enough of a "creative spark" to count as an "original work of authorship" and thus be protected under copyright.

It would be awesome of the authors of the work bequeathed it to the public domain, but there was nothing that I can see in the article about that.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:36 AM on April 9, 2013


Orphan works
posted by benito.strauss at 10:39 AM on April 9, 2013


Awesome. My favorite bizarre "sounds of" album is The Incredible Sights [ed note:??] and Sounds of the Winternationals 1964 drag races. We had a copy at our college radio station, I often used it as background when talking.
posted by schoolgirl report at 10:41 AM on April 9, 2013


I once found a "Sounds of Steam Locomotives" record, which was just two full sides of train noises, when I was going through my father's old records. My dad has never had any particular affection for steam trains and claimed to not know what it was doing there. It was still less embarrassing than the entire collected works of Vangelis.
posted by theodolite at 10:45 AM on April 9, 2013


Heh, when I was a college DJ, I read the news over Jane Fonda's Workout Record.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:46 AM on April 9, 2013


It was still less embarrassing than the entire collected works of Vangelis.

You take that back!
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:46 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Orphan works

The US Congress* has tried to pass legislation making it easier to disseminate Orphan Works multiple times but hasn't yet. As current American copyright law stands, beyond some weird exceptions for libraries copying works of a certain age, sadly I don't think you can just reproduce something because the authors can't be found.

*Soundcloud is headquartered in Berlin, so maybe there is some weird EU law exception.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:48 AM on April 9, 2013


I have many of these types of albums. Among my most treasured are two compilations from pharmaceutical companies, both selling early anti-depressants. One is a compilation of "blues" music, the other is a compilation of short snippets from "Othello and other works by Shakespear."

I am also partial to a couple of dictation records I picked up so that one can learn to type at various speeds.
posted by OmieWise at 10:50 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


sparklemotion: in this case who would prosecute/sue The Atlantic? Forgive my ignorance on this but doesn't "you can't do this" really mean "the law enables people who feel you've encroached on their copyright to sue you"?
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:53 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


doesn't "you can't do this" really mean "the law enables people who feel you've encroached on their copyright to sue you"?

There are criminal penalties available for copyright infringement -- that doesn't require the author to come forward/sue, just the government.

Practically speaking, yeah, probably no one is going to complain about these being made available, but it just seems like an odd risk to take.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:59 AM on April 9, 2013


The LP is issued on the Reprise label, so presumably the recording is owned by Warner Music Group. It is protected by US copyright, but as I understand it the 1961 date puts it into the European public domain, at least until the standard term is extended from 50 years to 70.

Great find, in any case.
posted by in278s at 10:59 AM on April 9, 2013


I'd say anywhere from 25% to 50% of all records in Canadian thrift stores are Anne Murray LPs. Still, I dig for the gems.
posted by smitt at 11:27 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints: "Heh, when I was a college DJ, I read the news over Jane Fonda's Workout Record."

I always read our station PSAs over the Young & the Restless theme music.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:34 AM on April 9, 2013


common vintage records: Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass,

Truth. It's ubiquitous. I wonder how many Dads who bought this album actually listened to it, heh.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:38 AM on April 9, 2013


Truth. It's ubiquitous. I wonder how many Dads who bought this album actually listened to it, heh.

My Dad had it (assuming we're talking about Whipped Cream and Other Delights) Even as a wee tike, I just stared and stared at that cover as often as possible...
posted by Thorzdad at 11:43 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


He forgot Leo Sayer.
posted by Z. Aurelius Fraught at 11:44 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Orphan works

It's not an orphan work. It has the Reprise Records label on the album cover, so the rights are currently owned by Warner Brothers.

The orphan work concept is ridiculous. There is actual economic value to a work being out of print. Scarcity can make the original recordings held by the owners become extremely valuable. It is very common for scarcity to result in demand for reissued, remastered products.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:46 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I once found a great LP of sounds—zooming motorbikes and excitable commentary—from the TT races. I snapped it up and sent it to John Peel, who was absolutely delighted.

I miss John Peel.
posted by ZipRibbons at 11:46 AM on April 9, 2013


> I'd say anywhere from 25% to 50% of all records in Canadian thrift stores are Anne Murray LPs. Still, I dig for the gems.

Anne Murray's first album is actually pretty good, and well worth picking up the next time you see it in the thrifts.

The kings of the Toronto thrift store bins are Max Bygraves, James Last and The Abbey Tavern Singers.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:59 AM on April 9, 2013


The orphan work concept is ridiculous. There is actual economic value to a work being out of print. Scarcity can make the original recordings held by the owners become extremely valuable.

I'm not sure I follow -- orphaned works are just works for which the copyright owner is impossible to either identify or contact. Being in print or out of print has nothing to do with whether a work is an orphaned work or not.
posted by cjelli at 12:00 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love this stuff...thanks for posting it!
posted by salishsea at 12:02 PM on April 9, 2013


The orphan work concept is ridiculous. There is actual economic value to a work being out of print. Scarcity can make the original recordings held by the owners become extremely valuable.

The increased value of scarce physical goods isn't really an economic benefit. It's a windfall to the lucky/speculators who happen to hold on to the right thing. I don't think that society wants to encourage hoarding.

It is very common for scarcity to result in demand for reissued, remastered products.

If there is someone who has the right to reissue or remaster a product, then the work isn't "orphaned". "Abandoned" maybe, but if the copyright holder is identifiable then the work isn't orphaned by most definitions. It's good that increased demand will encourage a copyright owner to resurrect a work, but if the owner isn't around anymore to respond to that demand, everyone will lose if orphaned works cannot be copied.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:07 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just mentioned "orphan works" to respond to sparklemotion's general question, not to say that it applies here. (Thought it looks like sparklemotion already knew more about it than I did.)
posted by benito.strauss at 12:36 PM on April 9, 2013


As someone who collected various odd sound effect albums and spliced them together in weird ways, in order to broadcast throughout my neighborhood and certify myself as the neighborhood weirdo, I absolutely love this find. I can't imagine what we (it became a family tradition) would have done with this one.

I imagine it wouldn't be too different from the time that we decided to broadcast a stock sound of a plane crash, followed by sirens, complete with a variety of smoke bombs and rotating red lights - fairly late at night, in our back yard - and then pretend that it never happened.

I think it was a happy day for the neighborhood when i pulled away in the u-haul.

My Dad had it (assuming we're talking about Whipped Cream and Other Delights)

Yep, my dad had it as well - That's like the definitive "dad" album. That was an odd discovery in the things he left behind when he moved out... Especially because we had never heard him listen to anything outside of classical music. This was the ONLY outlier.

It's a strangely wonderful album in some ways, and it has some strangely ear-wormy tracks. It was - and still is - a source of endless amusement for me. I say still is, because I have a few tracks in digital format always available - just in case there comes a point in my life where I need to play "Tijuana Taxi" on demand, during inappropriate situations. Just listen to it - and consider how great so many things could be with this in the background.

My favorite was using it to break the tension with a couple of married friends who were arguing in my car... It's impossible for anyone to fight with that in the background.
posted by MysticMCJ at 12:42 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not to continue the Herb Alpert derail too long... but I might be thinking "going places," not "whipped cream and other delights" - I forgot that my dad had TWO herb alpert albums. For whatever reason, only "whipped cream" remained in my memory. I can't possibly imagine why... hrm.

Another great one: Spanish Flea. I used this as the background music for a welcome/training video I made for one of my jobs years ago that I need to dig up. It was always a winner.
posted by MysticMCJ at 12:48 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


In Germany, Copyright duration is Life + 70 years, or 25 years from first publication/performance. Since the rights holders appear to be a record company, 25 years. Probably in the German public domain.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:58 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not certain that the original recordings were every copyrightable, some appear to have originated from Federal agencies which would make them Public Domain. The one file I listened to had narration which would make it a transformative work, and presumably copyrightable (I don't think this has ever been tested legally).

If there is someone who has the right to reissue or remaster a product, then the work isn't "orphaned". "Abandoned" maybe, but if the copyright holder is identifiable then the work isn't orphaned by most definitions. It's good that increased demand will encourage a copyright owner to resurrect a work, but if the owner isn't around anymore to respond to that demand, everyone will lose if orphaned works cannot be copied.

Just because you can't identify the rights-holder, doesn't mean it's orphaned. And even if the work is truly abandoned and orphaned, but still under copyright, there is very clear economic value for the work being out of print and unavailable, to the author of new works that would replace the orphan one. This is what is meant by promoting the progress of useful arts and sciences.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:15 PM on April 9, 2013


This is what is meant by promoting the progress of useful arts and sciences.

Troll harder, charlie. I can't quite hear you from the peanut gallery.
posted by brennen at 1:21 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Incredible Sights and Sounds of the Winternationals 1964 drag races.

Doot doo-doo doo doot doot doo, livin' in the yoo ess eh,
Doot doo-doo doo doot doot doo, livin' in the yoo ess eh . . .

. . . pulls out ahead of the Howard Cam Special, and -- he takes it! The winner, Lefty Mudersbach! Lefty Mudersbach on the street side. . . . *



*Yes, I know, it's not actually on this LP, but an earlier one.
posted by Herodios at 1:40 PM on April 9, 2013


To my ears, 18-Sidewinder is a lot like the "whoosh" sound effect used in the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show theme song.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:00 PM on April 9, 2013


I have a coworker who puts on "Whipped Cream..." When we're roasting coffee because he says it makes him feel like he's in a '60s documentary about "how coffee is made."

We're working on a dance routine.
posted by furnace.heart at 2:27 PM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


It was still less embarrassing than the entire collected works of Vangelis.

Wait, what?
posted by metaman livingblog at 2:36 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thirding the fact that Vangelis seems to get a lot of rather unfair flak. The man did give us Aphrodite's Child and the Blade Runner soundtrack after all.

Though it might be ostensibly illegal, I'm generally for very obscure records being put up like this; at a certain point, the only people who will profit from the rarity are the ones who own it on the secondary market, and if it gets wider exposure they might even have something of greater value on their hands. If it drums up reissue interest that's also money for the rights' holders.
posted by solarion at 3:24 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oy! Thanks for that.

In return, I'll just leave this here, which I was maybe kinda going to work up into an FPP. Lots of good stuff, free to the ear. Most appropriate for this post, Collected Machine Music, which is a set of collages/treatments/wotevas of a good collection of Victorian musical machines, calliopes, etc.

But lots more besides, ideal for those who like their music introspective and kinda weird, in a curiously eerie yet by no means unpretty without edging into the twee stylee.

Word.
posted by Devonian at 3:39 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Do the FPP, Devonian.
posted by ovvl at 5:00 PM on April 9, 2013


I love these kind of records, I’ve got a bunch of interesting old LP’s like this. I didn’t know it would warrant an article in the Atlantic though.
posted by bongo_x at 5:33 PM on April 9, 2013


This is cool as heck. I used to have a "test" cassette tape that was put out by some HiFi company that was just 10 minutes on one side of dopplered effects (like trains, jets and cars) and the other side extreme stereo enviromental type noises (like cats meowing and doors closing). It was kind of weird and cool to listen to while out for a drive.

charlie don't surf: " It is very common for scarcity to result in demand for reissued, remastered products."

I'd bet less than 1% of 1% of works that are out of print for 10 years are ever reissued. And I'd bet less than 1% of 1% of 1% of works that are out of print for 30 years are ever reissued. The reissue market shouldn't be propped up at the expense of the public domain. Especially considering most works are on their way to being permanently lost after 30 years.
posted by Mitheral at 5:38 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Interesting. The Cold War kept me up for more nights than I'd like to admit to, but I might just be able to loop that 'nosecone of an Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile' track into something that can help me sleep.
posted by shoesfullofdust at 5:55 PM on April 9, 2013


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