Johnny & Jones

Monday, 8 January 2007

A few years ago I made a radio documentary about a pile of one-of-one records that Harrie Berkhout had found. Harrie had played a few of the records and destroyed his record needle listening to the poorly recorded voices of two Dutch men talking to each other about the problems of cutting records at home with self made equipment. I think this is more your cup of tea, Harrie said in a rare moment of deep insight.
First of all I am fascinated by the whole phenomenon of home made records, independent of their content. The idea that people made home recordings on records before the tape recorder was on the market, still is something that I find difficult to believe. In this case the records are also visual interesting, because these guys used plastic that came from a printer: the records have, no, they are reproductions of pages from magazines, photos and books.
After close listening to the records I learned that they were made just after WW2. One of the men had a little shop or studio, where people could walk in and make one-of-one records. They were popular for sending messages to over sea family, but they had other purposes too, of course. I don’t think that there will be many people interested in the records that the two men send to eachother over the mail, apart from one record, maybe.
There is no information on this record, so all I tell here is guessing. On one record there is a song, sung by two young men. It is not very well done, but both the song and the singers seem to indicate that this is an imitation of Johnny & Jones. Or, not very likely but not impossible, even an early recording of the original duo.
Johnny & Jones were killed in a prisoner camp during WW2 and there is not much audio material of the duo left. The way how some of these rare recordings were re-discovered is an intriguing story, which I hope to tell here some other time. But the whole known repertoire of Johnny & Jones fits on one CD and much is taken from acetates, who were in bad shape.
The idea that Johnny & Jones visited the studio of one of the men that made the record that I am now talking about, is not that farfetched. In that case, this is a unique recording…