Category Archives: WTF?

AFRTS Vinyl Records

Destroying The American Forces Radio And Television Network Vinyl Collections

by Joe Wallace
True story. Back in the 1990s, I was an enlisted Air Force member working as a military broadcaster. I was stationed at Misawa Air Base in nothern Japan, and during that time I did my share of radio and television news, production, and and radio shows…for the military.

Overseas bases like Misawa, and many others were considered “accompanied tours” which meant you could bring your family with you while you worked through your two or three-year military assignment there. The idea behind having a local radio and television network was that AFRTS was bringing “a touch of home” to the pre-internet bases as a morale builder. It worked. There were time-delayed sports events, satellite radio, and local programs. There were no commercials, since it was (and still is) a government-run network…but there were PSAs that everyone made fun of even as we sat and watched. It was the only game in town!

In Japan, the thing I was most proud of in the early days was my one-day-a-week stint as the head of Joe’s Exploding Zoo- a radio show featuring any then-labeled alternative music I could get my hands on in an official capacity-we were only allowed to play records and compact discs that had been copyright cleared via the American Forces Radio and Television Network’s procurement department back in California.

The compact discs were via Century 21, which I was already familiar with having worked with those discs as a civilian DJ in Illinois. Century 21 provided compilations to subscriber stations with the latest format-specific music charting at the time, plus oldies and supplemental discs. But the vinyl for our military radio shows came from AFRTS itself.

And it was, compared to what you’re used to from vinyl records, fairly unusual. AFRTS vinyl was usually an album side featuring one artist, and an album side featuring another artist. Sometimes you might get an entire record on sides A & B, but more often than not, it was combos-you might get The Pet Shop Boys on one side, and Soul Asylum on the other. They were not the actual releases from the record companies themselves, but rather a shipment of AFRTS-label vinyl with those cuts:

AFRTS Vinyl Records

The record library was MASSIVE. Approximately ten thousand records massive, all catalogued, labeled as you see above, and properly stored. And in spite of not being plugged into the whole of recorded music, the collection was surprisingly eclectic.

As a snotty 20-something punk/goth/industrial/noise/etc. troublemaker, I actually found enough music to run a two hour show with once a week. Depeche Mode, Sisters of Mercy, Devo, and many others were all represented one way or another on vinyl, but also lesser known groups like Single Bullet Theory (who pre-dated Single GUN Theory, I might add), The Burning Sensations (notorious for their entry on the Repo Man soundtrack), and some mildly edited-for-content Frank Zappa just to name a few.

But one day, it was decided that vinyl did not have a place in the AFRTS operation any more (thanks for nothing , digital) and because of copyright issues, all stations were ordered to DESTROY THEIR VINYL COLLECTIONS.

And so we get to the video below, also produced by military journalists stationed overseas at Iraklion Air Station in Crete, detailing the utter horror that is the mandatory destruction of 10,000 vinyl records at JUST ONE STATION. They found a suitably violent way to deal with the job, which you can see for yourself as long as this YouTube clip remains available.

I could write endlessly about my experiences as a military DJ and reporter, but those are stories for another time…

Mort Garson Black Mass Lucifer

The Wonderfully Surreal Vinyl Of Mort Garson

Mort Garson Black Mass Lucifer
The wonderfully surreal world of Mort Garson includes a nice assortment of unusual vinyl records, many of which are fairly analog-synth heavy and all of which are fun to listen to. Taking a vacation to Garson-land, in terms of diving into his back catalog, is a joy more record lovers should try.

Garson covered a lot of ground in his career as a multi-talented composer, conductor, arranger, performer, etc. before he died in 2008 and his legacy is pretty damn enviable for fans of unusual vinyl records-“love sounds” music, occult-themed modular synth freakouts, and yes, music for sensuous lovers, and for plants (see below).

Mort Garson The Zodia Cosmic Sounds vinyl record

We don’t need to go into the entire Mort Garson bio, since the super-fantastic Space Age Pop has already done an extensive biography and Turntabling highly recommends this site for all your Space Age Bachelor Pad music detail needs (and more). But suffice it to say that Garson, a military veteran and among the early adopters of Robert Moog’s synthesizers, is a force to be reckoned with if you’re a hardcore vinyl lover with a penchant for Moog sounds (and Turntabling is ALL ABOUT that).

Have a listen to these amazing Mort Garson sounds while they last on Youtube-they are well worth seeking out! Especially the adults-only Music For Sensuous Lovers, which is Garson’s contribution to the Adults-Only vinyl craze of yesteryear. These links might not stay up forever, hear ’em while you can!

The Zodiac Cosmic Sounds

The Love Strings Of Mort Garson

Music For Sensuous Lovers

Plantasia by Mort Garson

Rare David Bowie Single: When The Wind Blows

When The Wind Blows Bowie rarity vinyl.jpg

In 1986, director Jimmy Murakami and writer Raymond Briggs saw When The Wind Blows hit the screen, an animated adaptation of the graphic novel. It’s a nuclear war story with a grim message, and it had an all-star cast in the soundtrack department thanks to DAvid Bowie, Roger Waters, Genesis, Squeeze, Paul Hardcastle, and others.

Below is a Youtube video (while it lasts, as usual) that features Bowie’s work on the title song, but what’s REALLY interesting from a vinyl obsessive’s standpoint is the rare and unusual picture disc that was released to promote the film:

Bowie when the wind blows vinyl

Yes, those images above are the 7-inch single, shaped as the two main characters in the film, odd and rare indeed! The world is full of unusually-shaped vinyl releases, and discovering them could turn into an obsession all its’ own. The fact that THIS one is by the late-great David Bowie makes it especially lustworthy, especially for its’ Blackstar-like elegaic qualities.

Hear the song and see some images from the film below. Sadly, Turntabling does not have any of this to sell, we’re on a BUGHUNT for one of these now! If you’re curious about what we DO have available at the moment, do have a look at the Turntabling collection for plenty of rare, weird, and awesome vinyl records including a metric ton of soundtracks.

The Million Dollar McDonald’s Record

You might well wonder why people (like me) collect strange and hard to find vinyl records. Part of the appeal (for me) is that it’s often very hard to believe people A) thought the record was a good idea in the first place, B) weird records are fascinating time capsules of pop culture and related ephemera.

This little flexi disc has all KINDS of fun and interesting cultural implications…I’m glad that somebody was interested enough to find and share the Million Dollar McDonald’s record. Behold this record in all its’ PR marketing hype glory…all these years later. We didn’t make this video, but we’re glad SOMEBODY did!