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Ringtunes

Saturday, 3 February 2007

I am a sucker for gimmicks. If there are gunshots, explosions or squeaking doors on a record, my record rating abilities gets jammed. This mental malfunction has cost me a lot of money, but it also provided me with a lot of weird records, which are useful for the compilations that I exchange with friends.
Today I received a CDr from John K., whose compilations are among the best I get to hear. He has not only access to some of the most obscure stuff, but most of all he’s got the best ideas. And good taste. Among his compilations are titles like Music to flat flies by, Dick Cheney’s favourites and Don’t you wanna be a Beatle too?. Today he sent me Ringtunes : 31 songs from all times and places with telephone sounds in it. I knew a handful of the songs ( Your wire’s been tapped by Pigmeat Markham (boy, I wish somebody released a full CD with his music!), Ring a ding ding by The Dial Tones and Forty-five men in the telephone booth last night by The Four Tophatters ), but most of what John dug up is new to me. Usually a compilation is also an invitation to show that you (in this case me) have better music and better taste. But there is no way I can match up with this Ringtunes. I have just done a quick search and I found nothing that makes trying to create a Ringtunes Volume 2 worth the effort.
John placed the selected songs in chronological order, so you get to hear how the telephone sounds have changed over the past 70 years. The CD also gives an historical oversight of telephone related phenomena: crossed lines, wire tapping, operators, coins that get stuck in a machine, telephone booths, etcetera.
My favourite song on this beautiful compilation is one with one of the best gimmicks ever used in a song. It is The telephone is ringing by Rubin Russell. While he is singing that he is afraid that he is loosing his baby, a telephone is ringing in the background, all through the song. This gimmick is almost as good as using the list of menus of a Chinese take away restaurant for the lyrics of a song. I will write about that gimmick another time.

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