Saturday, April 16, 2022

Wee Hours Minidiscs

Last summer, I attended a record sale that was held in some dingy basement of an industrial building. They were really working towards getting rid of everything they had, so they had put boxes of stuff outside for free. These boxes mainly consisted of recorded cassettes, CDs with no cases, and a few Minidiscs. Of course I had to grab multiple boxes and see what treasures were in them. The Minidiscs were the most interesting things in the lot, so today we're going to focus on those.

First of all, I'd like to comment on the Minidisc format as a whole. Back in the mid-1990s I was seriously considering getting a component Minidisc recorder, but the only place I could get one was from The Sony Store. I was hesitant on spending $300 of my hard-earned teenage money on one of these because most of my experience with Sony's electronics was abysmal. In recent years, I've owned two Sony component Minidisc players, and they were complete fucking garbage. For some reason, their portable units are much more reliable which is what I used to transfer the discs. First, I attempted to transfer the tracks using the USB port on the side of the Minidisc unit and the software that came with it, but Sony ensured that you could only transfer music onto the Minidisc and not the other way around. This is one of the many reasons this entry took so damn long to make, because I had to transfer them in real time.

As for the discs themselves, I have to say that they're quite resilient. I had to do a bit of a repair on one disc that looked like someone stepped on it. It wouldn't play, but that's because the window was pressed in, causing the disc not to move. Not only that, the disc was dirty due to the broken window allowing dirt to get through. I carefully cleaned the disc with a Q-tip, and I popped the broken window out which allowed the disc to spin. It then played flawlessly. I had to fix the metal slider on another, and it appears that one of the discs was used to hold a burning cigarette. All the discs transferred flawlessly which is a testament to their durability.

The content of these discs came from someone who worked at the University of Manitoba radio station, 101.5 FM, namely a program called "The Wee Hours" which I'm guessing aired sometime in the early morning. Some of the discs appear to be entire shows while others are just a pile of things that were used to compile the shows, namely jingles and station calls. These discs were recorded sometime around the beginning of the year 2000. 

Incidentally, I would like to thank the U of M radio station website for linking to this blog. I would also like to thank the Shazam app for helping me identify most of the songs on the discs. I know a lot of music, but a large amount of the music presented here I generally wouldn't bother with.

And now, let's get to the content!


Jingles


This is the disc that looked like it had been stepped on. Judging by the label, I knew I had to get this one to play, and I wasn't disappointed. This is mainly a collection of strange sounding station calls. If anybody knows the name of the device used to make these, I'd love to know what it is. Also, we get to hear "The World Spins" by Julee Cruise.



Unlabelled 1



This is one of the more listenable discs in the set. We're treated with songs by The Melvins, Iggy & The Stooges, Bad Brains, and ZZ Top. The first song on the disc is Wichita Fucking Lineman by Glen Campbell. There's some banter clips strewn throughout the disc, but they're not all that interesting.

There is however an ad for a bar in Winnipeg called "The Zoo", a place I both played at and attended concerts at. The current location of The Zoo is now a big hole in the ground where they've been planning to build condos for the last few years (named "Zu Living" or some shit), but there hasn't been any progress over the past few years. It's unfortunate really, since The Zoo was the hot spot for live local music.



Unlabelled 2


Lots of bumpers, skits, and retro commercials on this one. As for music, we've got bluegrass, funk, and then some Husker Du just to fuck with your head. There's also five songs performed by The Meters who are more than happy to make you hear Wichita Fucking Lineman again. Speaking of repetitiveness, you also get another play of "The World Spins" by Julee Cruise. There must be something great about this song that I just can't seem to understand.




Unlabelled 3


Apparently there are freshly baked cookies at 495 Niagra street. I looked up the address and it's somebody's house. Not sure why she's baking all these damn cookies, but now I want one. We also have some poor kid who's trying to record a bumper for the radio show, and she can't quite get it right.

As for music, we get to hear "The World Spins" by Julee Fucking Cruise again. I don't understand why this song is so important that we have to hear it three times, but even after the third play it still does absolutely nothing for me. Speaking of nothing, there's a bunch of shitty old jazz music from the stone age on here. I hate jazz music. Thankfully, there's a New Order song thrown in the middle of it all just to give a much needed break from the mindless tootling and endless dickery.




Wee Hours 2


The discs labelled "Wee Hours" appear to be actual shows since they clock in at about an hour each, although some of them have random junk tacked onto the end. I get it, Minidiscs were expensive, so why not utilize the unused space?

Anyway, this is one of the better discs with regards to music. We've got Billy Bragg, The Replacements, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and then we get a crappy Buddy Johnson song at the end.




Wee Hours 5


We have arrived at the ashtray disc which means it's time for some classics from the 1950s! We've got Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Telstar Ponies and Terminator 2. Unfortunately, those last two aren't from the 1950s. They're also not the same style of music, but we've learned that consistency doesn't exactly take priority on any of these discs.




Wee Hours 7


We end off the stack with the shittiest one. It starts out great with Telstar by the Tornados, and then the ADHD kicks in and we don't hear anything of that sort again. We are forced to endure an onslaught of funk, techno, rap, and then some Louis Fucking Armstrong at the end, just to keep the consistency at bay.



This was a doozy of an entry to put together, but I think all the oddball content was certainly worth it. I promise the next one will take much less time.

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