21 December 2003
Test records, as a rule, don't get a whole lot of play. I know that I trot out one or two to adjust settings on the ancient stereo system I own (receiver and speakers turn 30 next year), mostly speaker phasing and such, and then back they go onto the shelf to be ignored for the next few years.
I was reshelving records today when I found something identified as a Radio Shack Disc-O-Mat, which I remembered to be a 11.75-inch foam circle one plants on the turntable platter in a desperate attempt to bleed off static charges. I hadn't seen one in a while, but I knew it wasn't supposed to have a mid-Sixties Capitol rainbow label, visible through cutouts in the sleeve, so I popped out the disc to see what was there.
What was there was a strange little 1966 issue (T 2504) titled Sing the Top-40 Hits, billed as "instrumental re-creations of the original backgrounds." Today, of course, you can find CDs full of stuff like this to feed your karaoke machine, but I don't remember there being any demand for this sort of thing back in the Sixties, though Capitol did turn out an LP called Stack-O-Tracks which consisted of Beach Boys backing tracks minus (most of) the vocals.
And it boggles the mind, even today, to imagine someone singing "Walkin' My Cat Named Dog" (miscredited to Norman Tanega on the label) along with this uncredited slightly-above-garage-band backing.