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Re: [ARSCLIST] Riverside Race Car Records

I remember that Ustinov album. We played our copy to death when we were kids.

I think the whole "big world in stereo in my living room" genre was a bit of a money-maker in the early days of stereo. Trains, planes, automobiles and musical effects. I always imagine the guy somewhere between the old John Doormat cartoons and the swells of "Mad Men" using these records to convince the wife to get comfortable with the second speaker in the living room. But the cars racing around the room and jets flying left to right just don't do the trick. She frowns, pours another drink and resigns herself to dusting one more large surface.

The somewhat analog of this scene today is the guy rolling up on his McMansion with a 60" flat-screen in the back of the SUV.

There are plenty of good documentaries out there about auto racing in the 50's and 60's. It was very different from the videogame-esque NASCAR scene today. Both road racing and drag racing and even grand prix racing were more dangerous and interesting -- for both drivers and spectators. It wasn't quite a blood sport but there were plenty of injury-causing mishaps to be witnessed. Many of the early hi-fi and stereo enthusiasts were war veterans, so the idea of some danger combined with large machines and loud motors probably brought back some memories and sold some records. I like these records because they are something like historical artifacts -- you don't hear a lot of these sounds at a modern-day racing event. I've often wished Rhino or some other "vintage"-oriented label would put together a CD box set of the best of them, maybe combined with some over-the-top TV and radio ads from the day.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- From: "David Lennick" <dlennick@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, September 07, 2008 3:53 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Riverside Race Car Records

John Ross wrote:
At 9/7/2008 11:39 AM, Tom Fine wrote:
Apparently, Bill Gauer, Keepnews' partner at Riverside, was a racing car nut and was very into making these "environmental audio" recordings.

This raises a question I've always wondered about: Who bought all those Riverside sports car records? They still show up in secondhand record bins, so SOMEBODY must have bought them new, but did they sell enough to break even, let alone make money, or were they just an excuse for Grauer to talk his way into the pits at races with his microphone?

I suppose they didn't cost much to produce. No studio time, no royalties or performers' fees. Could they have been a profitable sideline like the Elektra sound effects records?

Further amazing that they had enough of a sense of humor to issue Peter Ustinov's hour-long parody of the whole genre, a disc which stayed in print long enough to be reprocessed in fake stereo (aaaaaak).

There's a Riverside comedy record by a standup comic whose name I have forgotten in which the comic muses about a phone call:
"Riverside Records, can I help you?"
"Yes, Bill Grauer please."
"I'm sorry, he's under a Porsche, taking a level."

I can recall about 3 comedy albums on Riverside (aside from Ustinov)..Henry Morgan, "George Crater" (Ed Sherman), and Louis Nye (Heigh Ho Madison Avenue). Was it one of these?


John Ross

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