Another CD lost to time… or is it?

Well, this is getting embarrassing now. Maybe I’ve just started noticing more of these, but I was in the charity shop just yesterday and I noticed yet another “injket warrior” CD. Good lord, I really need to come up with a better name for those. Any suggestions welcome in the comments. But for new viewers, these are basically bands, or individuals that release their own music on CDRs, before online streaming was a thing, and the disc covers and/or labels were produced on a consumer inkjet printer. I happened to be browsing the Alice House Hospice, in the lovely fishing village of Hartlepool, when this beauty emerged from the rows of bloody Perry Como and Il Divo…

This one instantly piqued my interest, namely “Okus Dolphin – Dark Sirens Of The night” . It was a single. Normally, these type of homebrew ones appear in the charity shops as albums. It also included a club mix of some sort, so it certainly wasn’t going to be your run-of-the-mill country CD or anything like that.

The case wasn’t in the greatest shape, but I could see, lying on the grey plastic tray underneath was my nemesis. A CD with another printed label. Well, how could I resist? Would it play? Under the shop lights it looked fine. No scratches, and no obvious damage. My heart was pounding with excitement, as I threw over a shiny pound coin to the shopkeep, who, before my interruption was carefully sticking coat hangers inside ladies’ clothers.

33p later, I took it home, went out for a few bevvies, came home and was excited to listen to it. I pressed play… My heart sank. There was the all-to-familiar audio crackle that proves, once again, the bloody CD label has ruined this otherwise perfect CD. I was gutted. I listened to track 1 through the crackles, namely “Dark Sirens Of The Night”. A catchy little number. No idea of the lyrics, or what it was about, but I really quite liked it (turns out the lyrics are printed on the inside ofn the sleeve… a nice touch!). A couple more plays… nope, no better.

Sadly, another one I didn’t get to in time.

As you can see from the disk, something odd appears. You can see the original branding of the CDR showing through. Not something I’ve noticed with other ruined CDs, but, yes, there are also the telltale black spots showing, and maybe it’s just the light in that photo, but the dye seems a little discoloured too. Thanks to the damage, I can see this was a “Master” branded CD-R, wich I believe were sold exclusively in Staples.

I wasn’t intending doing a write-up of this disk until much later, but then I noticed that Okus Dolphin was active on Twitter (it’s not X, it never will be X), 21 MINUTES before I listened to the CD… considering this disk is now 23 years old, I didn’t expect that.

Turns out, this is the first case where a ruined disc isn’t lost media! Apparently, all of the tracks are available on Spotify, thanks to an album dated 2008

There’s a demo version of “Dark Sirens Of The Mind” on there too, but it also seems the tape was used as a multitrack or a drum loop too, so it’s pretty unlistenable.

Overall, it’s a shame the CD didn’t survive, but I’m over the moon that I’d discovered a catchy, original song I actually like. I don’t expect that to happen too often during this journey.

Another CD gone to the charity shop in the sky

Rotting CDRs are starting to get on my nerves now.

I don’t find one for years, and then I find two within a week. Same issue as before. Paper label, destroyed data.

This one’s by a band called “Scarlet Renegade”… and unfortunately, that’s all I can really tell you. The cover of the CD features a Myspace link, which, of course, no longer works. The only other information is who was in the band, and even then, it’s just first names and nicknames…

Stu – Vocals
Dan – Guitar
Chris – Bass, Vocals
Spud – Drums.

The CD comes presented in a slimline jewel case, like you’d get back in the day when you’d pick up a pack of CDRs. The cover design is relatively simple, though the inlay is professionally printed.

As mentioned, there’s a Myspace link at the bottom of the sleeve. Of course, it didn’t survive the great Myspace purge, so the link no longer works. I did find an article in the Northern Echo, where they’re mentioned for performing at the ‘Newblood Festival’, but sadly no music. And I quote…

The bands for the evening’s entertainment were Scarlet Renegade, Bubblegum Thrash, Girls Last Choice and Midterm Break. Both Scarlet Renegade and Bubblegum Thrash performed good opening sets, Scarlet Renegade certainly took my fancy (although I must admit I did see them play excellently at Richmond Live in the summer)

I’ve found no more info about the band. The name coincides with something from World Of Warcraft, so obviously that’s taken priority over a small indie band from Darlington.

The annoying thing is, this particular disk partially works. It rips, but barely. You can actually hear the music on it, there’s just a lot of distortion, as if you’re listening to it on a radio that’s picking up interference from a nearby washing machine. There’s lots of hiss on it, and the guitars probably sound a bit more crunchy than they’re supposed to be. I’ve ripped it a few times now, and I think I’m going to get it as good as it’s ever going to sound.

And following on from the previous ‘Rotten CD’ post, I tried that “Serving Suggestion” disk on another machine (and another piece of software) and again, got nothing. Couldn’t even get the first track to read, therefore I’m giving up hope of it ever working. Turns out there was an entry on Discogs for that particular CD, so I’ve scanned the covers though and uploaded them, so at least the nicely designed cover hasn’t been lost to time, even if the actual music inside certainly has.

I’d love to read any comments you have on Scarlet Renegade, and any history of the band.

If only I could travel back in time 20 years

I wish I had a time machine. there’s only one thing that’s starting to come to light now, and to be perfectly honest, I’m the only person who probably knows about it. As you know, I’m a music lover. I’m done with trawling the charity shops for good CDs though. Now I trawl the charity shops for obscure CDs.

You know the type. A local band, usually consisting of a few ex-school friends or work colleagues. They get together and form a band. They record some tracks, they burn a few copies, print out a lovely case, and even stick a fancy paper label on there using one of the many, many CD labelling kits around at the time. They give some to their mates, maybe give some away at gigs when they do something at their local pub.

They eventually drift apart, and the bands get forgotten about. These burned CDs occasionally end up in charity shops, and I happily hoover them up. I’ve found some absolute pearlers of songs amongst them, some of which I intend to go through and document here in the future.

Anyway, that’s a story for another post. What I’m writing about here is that a lot of these CDs are now sadly unplayable.

Remember a few lines above where I mentioned that the bands / individuals will stick labels on the disks to make them look nice? Well, it seems those lovely labels are robbing future listeners of the opportunity to hear their music.

I, thankfully, haven’t found too many examples of this over time, but I know I’m going to find more, and it means that some songs are lost forever. No matter how small a band is or however long they’ve lasted, if they liked their music enough to put it onto record it, put it on a CDR and distribute it to a few people, then it simply deserves to be listened to by future generations… or, me.

Anyway, this all came about several years ago. I found a CD in a charity shop. It was a home-burned one, meaning it was all inkjet printed. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can certainly do this with CDs. I wanted to hear this.

The CD had one of those Inkjet label maker things on it. They were in every staionery store throughought the land in the 2000s. I put the CD in, attempted to rip it, and “nothing”. Or rather, It did eventually rip, but my CD drive sounded like it was having a nervous breakdown, and must have took an hour. I attempted to play it, but the sound was completely garbled. If you loaded it into Audacity, you could see the shape of a song there, but zoom in and the whole thing resembled a square wave. I tried this particular disc on many CD players. It was able to recognise it as a CD (the table of contents is stored in a very small area, only a few bytes at the beginning of the disc) but playing any of the tracks was a complete failure.

This CD was by a band called “Beckett”, and for all I know, this could have been the only copy ever produced, and now it’s gone for good. There are plenty of bands out there with the same name, but none of them appear to have the same tracklisting as what this CD contained.

Anyway, Last Saturday, I was in a charity shop, and picked up this.

It’s called “What’s In A Box” by a band called “Serving Suggestion”, released in 2002. It was 99p, and factory sealed. Enough for me to take a punt on it. Fast forward 8 days, I rip the cellophane off. I hope the image above just shows how pristine this thing was. Also, note that there’s none of your inkjet muck here. The case was professionally designed and printed.

The actual design of the case is clever. The disk was printed like a pizza…

Lift the CD out, and the underside of the inlay had a greasy mark printed, where the CD sat. It actually gave me a giggle.

I slapped the CD in, expecting to be greeted with some South African early 2000s indie tunes. After a minute or so, I got nothing. I took the CD out and examined it. From the naked eye, it looks absolutely pristine, after never being played before…

Ignore the dust, my phone loves picking up stuff like that. After a quick wipe, there was nay a mark to be seen, but I couldn’t be arsed reuploading the photo.

I turned the disk over, and realised that yes, this bloody disk had a paper label. It wasn’t apparent at first, as this was a nicely presented CD, but the scientific method of trying to lift it with my nail proved once and for all at this was, indded a paper label…

And, if you view the data portion in just the right light, you can see the issue… the bit where the data is stored has taken on a leapord-skin appearance, and is no longer a uniform shade.

It’s especially prominent to the left of the image, with that leapord-skin blotching. You can see where the lighter data section clearly had dark blobs on it. I can only assume that, over time, the glue on the label has reacted with either the dye on the disk, or the foil layer, or a combination of both. It’s sort-of like a “modern day” equivalent of the CD Bronzing fiasco that happened in the late 80s / early 90s. I don’t expect for this post to actually resonate with anyone, but I know there will be millions of people out there that will have used these CD labels and have precious memories stored on CDRs. Maybe it’s time to download the data from them before they all rot.

EDIT: I did try this disc on another machine, with different software,in the vain hope it’ll make any difference. Unfortunately, it didn’t. I’ll probably end up just binning this CD, but all is not lost. I’ve scanned all of the artwork in, and there’s a Discogs entry for this particular disc, and the artwork isn;t very good, so I’ll replace mine with that one. the case will go on to replace a damaged case.

Ghosts of Christmas Presents – 1992

Hopefully, all of you reading this will understand why this was a difficult Christmas. It should come as no surprise that there’s absolutely no photographic record of this years’ festivities. Thankfully, my dad and nanna did their best to bring the festive season into Mercuryvapour Towers. The main present this year was one that I’ve always cherished, and still own to this day. It was my first ever CD player. It was the matching model to my Alba hi-fi which I got the year previously. It was what those phono jacks existed for. It unlocked a whole new world of music to me, where I’d previously been living off scratched records, and worn out tapes, I was finally entering the digital era.

Now, at the time of typing, I don’t have the exact model of CD player to hand, but a quick Google search would lead me to believe this is the CD1010. I can’t confirm that, as ut’s currently 03:45 in the morning and I don’t want to wake the whole house up just to confirm this, but it really was barebones. There was no time display. The only indication was the amount of tracks on a disc. You couldn’t fast forward or rewind in a track, you could only skiop the entire thing. It apparently had some type of memory control, so you could program tracks, but that was about the limit of its capabilities. It played CDs great, however. Even the barebones systems were ruggedly built back then. Of course, I received some CDs to go with it. Mainly singles And, of of course, I can tell you what they were…

“The Boney M Megamix”. For some reason, Boney M had became relevant again. Not sure why, but they released a medley of somgs, starting off with “Rivers of Babylon” and ending with “Rasputin” I believe. I don’t think it grazed the top 10.

Second was “Drift Away” by… Michael Bolton. Yep, his reworking of the Dobie Gray classic. I actually quite liked it at the time. Also featured a terrible rendition of ‘White Chirtmas’, and two tracks from his earlier albums which I quite liked.

Third and most definitely least, was ‘Supersonic‘ by ‘Hedgehogs with Attitude’, stylised as H.W.A. Back in 1992, there was a number of records released based on computer games or computer game charaters. There was Tetris, SuperMarioLand, and this sparkling turd.

I’ve literally just discovered there was a follow-up to “SuperMarioLand” called “Go Mario Go”, and it’s on Discogs for over £100. I shall have to keep my beady eye out for that one. There was also a Lemmings one. I’ve heard it. It’s not superb.

Anyhoooo, back to the CD player. I still have it, and it still works, at the time of last power-on. It served me well. Both the hi-fi and the CD player were in onstant use until 1996, then I got another hi-fi with a CD player built in. there shall be no blog about this, however.

Oh yes, I also received a goal net this year. I made very good use of this, as it fitted at the top of the garden just nicely. That is, until I put a football through the kitchen window. I think I took it down after that and never used it again. Rusted remains of the frame can still be found on the flat-roofed washhouse.

Ghosts of Christmas Presents -1988

Gosh darn it, I’ve done these out of order. If music be the food of love, then tape it off the radio. Or something.

1988 would see my first foray into owning equipment that I could listen to music with properly. I had a basic tape recorder that went with my ZX Spectrum, however the available tapes were very limited. My dad had some old Pickwick compilations from the 70s, and there was maybe a Neil Sedaka one buried in there somewhere. I think I had two tapes of my own. A very badly copied version of “Bridge of Spies” by T’Pau, and one side of Hits 4, both “donated” to me by my long suffering troll friend, Chad. I would listen to them through the same tinny cassette player that I played my ZX Spectrum games through.

Xmas 1988 rolled around. I wasn’t actually sure what I wanted this year. I think I decided on a ghetto blaster type thing because I saw them on telly, and I was just starting to get into music, I was starting to notice songs on the radio more. Once again, Santa came down our chimney, emptied his sack, and still never managed to break the gas fire. He’s an amazing bloke. anyway, here’s what he left me. Again, not my one, as I can’t find a photo of it (though I’m sure they exist) I had to ‘borrow’ this one from a well known auction site.

I absolutely loved it. It opened a whole new world for me. I did get some tapes with it. namely Kylie’s first album, and a Status Quo compilation released by Castle Communications, sadly none of the big hits from the 80s were on this.

Something that was also new to me… the availability of blank tapes. I received a pack of 4 c-90 tapes, and these were soon full of music from the radio. Now, I don’t condone piracy and the people who actually profit from it, but having the ability to record stuff off the radio for the first time opened up a new world for me. The songs I’d heard on the radio, I was able to capture, and play back whenever I wanted, and it certainly lead me into the interest in music I have today. I’ve always disagreed with the old “home taping is killing music” slogan. Over the years, I’ve picked up essentially everything I taped off the radio on CD, LP or some other legitimate format.

I still have a lot of the tapes I recorded as a kid, and they’re somewhat dear to me in a weird way. Of course, I have to cut out the bits where I’m singing, or shouting 9-year old gibberish into the microphone, but I could probably tell you what was on a particular tape just by its look and, more worryingly, its smell.

Yes, smell.

As I mentioned, it wasn’t long before the blank tapes I’d received were full, and I needed to find some more to go with them. Now the local newspaper shop sold blank tapes, and I’d often save up a couple of weeks worth of pocket money and get one. They were manufactured by a company called “Yashima”, and were chrome tapes. Normally quite expensive.

I’m sure I’ve talked about these before, as I remember trying to find a photo of one, but being unsuccessful. This is the closest approximation I can find. I mentioned smell, because for some reason, these particular cassettes stunk of cheese. Now, I’m not quite sure exactly what caused it. Maybe it was the magnetic media, maybe it was the binding glue, maybe it was the labels, but these tapes absolutely stunk.

I would often take this stereo over to Chad’s, and we’d spend hours playing music on this, and playing Soccer Boss. Chad would occasionally allow me to copy some of his music using this, as long as I didn’t use those ‘cheesy tapes’.

Sadly, these Yashima tapes were extremely fragile. It was the only brand of tape I’ve ever had that had physically snapped just through the action of rewinding / fast forwarding. I think I have one example left, and that includes some very special recordings, including the very first time I managed to get “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby on tape… all 8 seconds of it.

I loved this thing. It always went with me whenever we went on holiday to Sandy Bay. I’m sure it’ll be in the background of some of the photos that were taken, but unfortunatelt I can’t find any at the time this was written.

I used this for many years. I think it just stopped working one day, which was a shame. I got another cheaper one in the mid 90’s, but that one fell to bits pretty quickly, but its legacy lives on, through the many hours of music I played (and recorded) through it.

It’s here! I have it!

As promised, I said I’d update when I had the CD, and yes, it’s finally here! At 1:30PM on 14th November, the jolly postperson dropped a little red Jiffy bag through the Mercuryvapour Towers portcullis. It contained my most sought after disc, and I can finally close this 23 year quest once and for all.

So… er, that’s it for that. No idea what I’m going to blog about now. I will now return you back to months of complete silence. Probably.

The ‘unknown song’ journey is almost over

As I’m sure that everyone I’ve spoken to over the last three months or so are aware, I know exactly what the ‘unknown song’ is I’m sure you can scroll down/up a couple of posts if you’re really completely unaware. Anyway, finding out what is it, and owning a physical copy are two different things, especially when it comes to library music. As luck would have it, a copy turned up on ebay, with those three magic words… ‘Buy it Now’, I SHOULD soon be the proud owner of the CD for a penny short of £7. It’s considerably cheaper than getting it shipped over from Croatia, or Italy, which is where, at the time of typing, the only two copies exist on Discogs.

Yes, I’m 100% sure that the CD will appear cheaper on ebay at some point. No need to point it out. I’m just happy that the only copy I’ve seen so far looks like this, and it belongs to me…

Yes, I’m fully aware that posting this is entirely tempting fate, and the postal service is going to swallow it up, never to be seen again. I, for one, wouldn’t be surprised in the least. The things that have gone wrong for me in the last few months since the dscovery of ‘The Unknown Song’, are, quite literally, staggering. It’s like that moment, on 5th September, of me discovering that song was some type of ‘pinnacle’ in my life, and since that moment, some cosmic being turned my dial all the day to 0. Of course, that’s bullshit, and everything has of course just been a massive coincidence, and all of this shit would have happened if I’d have held up my phone and Shazamed the unknown song one more time, but still.

Obviously, I don’t really talk about life stuff on here anymore, but if I did, there’d be several pages of stuff. Certainly enough to bore you all senseless with. Anyway. This took a much darker turn than that I was intending, so, the next post will be when the CD arrives!