Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Voice-O-Graph discs are not hard to find. I pick them up at thrift stores for a buck pretty often. I will note that ones on eBay are $24 and those sellers must be deluded. It's also not hard to find them online. Here, here and even here. Most computer literate people can toss it on their record player, and then speed correct with free software. It makes for a utilitarian representation of the master. It's noisy, and harsh but the original recording was never very good. Amateur attempts at noise filtering often make it worse.

Some of these were recorded at 45 rpm, but for the most part they were recorded at 78rpm. It's just a little coating of varnish on a cardboard blank. It holds up as well as you'd think. I've heard dozens of them and most are recordings of small children. They are usually singing. Their slogan was "Don't write, Voice O Graph." the recordings were made in small booths, with a telephone-like microphone. These were at fairs, landmarks and other vacation stops. These were made by the Mutoscope corporation, which was previously known for making girlie playing cards.

Interesting fact: George Carlin recorded several Voice-O-Graph records in Times Square as a kid and they are on his box set.

I've been working on a Voice-O-Graph labelography to document their variant labels for better dating of unlabeled works. The most recent draft can be found here.