Mad Mag’s Multi-Groove Flexi-disc

Remember the Las Vegas Roulette record with the “multi-groove” in which the tonearm stylus randomly selects (at least, in theory) one of 38 separate grooves – one for each slot on the roulette wheel – so as to allow partygoers the ability to play roulette from the comfort of home?   That’s right, you, too, can be the croupier.    *(Link to original piece)

Fabulous Las Vegas Roulette LP-jrIn 1980, Mad Magazine would pull off an even more ambitious vinyl feat:  a “multi-groove” flexi-disc!   45Cat’s 23skidoo rightly emphasizes:

“A random groove record.  A different ending (usually) is heard each time the record is played.  Very rare for a flexi-disc to have this feature.”

“It’s a Super Spectacular Day” [all 8 endings]    Frank Jacobs & Norm Blagman    1980

45Cat lists Mad Magazine flexi-discs from 19611981

I am grateful to have had a neighbor growing up who allowed me to borrow freely from his 1960s collection of Mad Magazines — the best educational supplement a kid could ask for.

Mad Mag-sing along-a+Mad Mag-sing along-b+

Check out the hyper-minimalist animation video that Casey Killingsworth created for the 1980 disco update of Mad’s 1961 belch-rock hit, “It’s a Gas!”

The “Rock Revolution” as seen through the lens of Mad Magazine:  1965-1968

Mad Mag-guitar-a+Mad Mag-beatles 68-a

In 2011, someone would fork over $100 for a vintage copy of Mad’s debut (and only) LP.

     Beatles                            vs.                         Stones, man

Mad Mag-ringo+Mad Mag-jagger+mag

Beatles vs. Stones:  1-0

On February 7, 2014 Mad Magazine would post the following announcement:

“Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America!  And in order to thoroughly commemorate, celebrate, salute and pay tribute to this historic event, we present the only time that all four Beatles appeared on our cover [September, 1968 cover above with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi] — which is still one more MAD cover than the Rolling Stones ever had!”

Mad Magazine’s Don Martin gets in on the act

Mad Mag-beatles 65+

Management requires that I insert a plug for Zero to 180‘s Facebook page – like it or else!

Jack White’s Ultra Vinyl of the Future

With this month’s “ultra vinyl” release of Jack White’s latest solo work, Lazaretto, it would appear that my Fabulous Las Vegas Roulette multi-track LP has, indeed, met its match.  White seems to be aiming for the fences on this special project, as Lazaretto goes to extraordinary lengths to maximize those aspects of the vinyl experience that are unique to that specific audio playback format — check out these special effects available on LP only:

•  2 vinyl-only hidden tracks beneath the center labels:
·  1 hidden track plays at 78 RPM, the other 45 RPM, making this a 3-speed record.

•  Dual-groove technology:  Plays an electric or acoustic intro for “Just One Drink” depending on where the needle is dropped — meets for the body of the song.

•  Side A plays from the outside in.

•  Matte finish on Side B, giving the appearance of an unplayed 78 RPM record.

•  Both sides end with locked grooves.

•  Dead wax area on Side A contains a hand-etched hologram by Tristan Duke of Infinity Light Science, the first of its kind on a vinyl record.

•  LP utilizes some mixes different from those used on CD/digital versions.

•  Absolutely zero compression used during recording, mixing & mastering.

“This is my proudest moment with Third Man Records, this object,”  White said of the LP to Conan O’Brien during an appearance on Conan on June 11, reported Billboard.

Jack White & ConanJack White & Jimmy Fallon

Billboard’s June 18th piece goes on to state that Lazaretto, which debuted at #1, set a vinyl sales record:

“Rocker Jack White claims his second No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, as Lazaretto bows in the top slot with 138,000 sold in the week ending June 15, according to NielsenSoundScan.  The effort follows his solo debut, Blunderbuss, which also opened atop the list and sold 138,000 in its first frame. (It sold a handful of copies less, actually, but when rounded to the nearest thousand, both figures become 138,000).

Lazaretto – released on White’s Third Man Records label through Columbia Records – also sets the record for the largest sales week for a vinyl album since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991.

The vinyl LP sold 40,000 copies — easily enough to debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Vinyl Albums chart. (The vinyl edition of the album has many unusual bonus features that clearly intrigued consumers.)   It beats the debut of Pearl Jam’s “Vitalogy,” which sold 34,000 vinyl LPs in its first week, back in 1994. (Notably, “Vitalogy” was issued on vinyl first, two weeks before its release on CD and cassette.)”

“Just One Drink”     Jack White     2014

Fabulous Las Vegas Roulette: Multi-Track LP

The most “futuristic” piece of vinyl in my record collection, by far, would have to be the Fabulous Las Vegas Roulette multi-track LP.  To fully appreciate the specialness of this disc, I must first bring up that classic Trivial Pursuit question:

Q:  How many grooves are on one side of a standard LP?

A:  Wait for it ………………………………… exactly one.

Fabulous Las Vegas Roulette LP

However, unlike every other record in my LP collection, Fabulous Las Vegas Roulette has 38 grooves:  one for each of the numbered pockets on the roulette wheel.  Each groove leads the listener to a 30-second “live” recording of a roulette wheel spin (for example, 13 in the black) that a tonearm stylus — when placed at the edge of the record — could theoretically select at random and play.  Thus, you are the croupier, and your home becomes “the house” when you use this multi-track LP version to play the French casino game with family and friends (though possibly in defiance of state and/or federal law).

In actual practice, however, I found that certain grooves on my copy played much more frequently than others.  Consequently, just for a challenge, I attempted to make individual recordings for each of the 38 grooves and then copy the 38 “clean” recordings onto a single CD for playback on a compact disc player with built-in capability for random song selection.  Unfortunately, three of the grooves never came into contact with my turntable style despite many dozens of attempts.  Thus, in order to complete my disc, I had to fabricate three of the recordings with the help of a microphone and my Yamaha REX 50 effects unit – here are two of them:

Roulette Spin #1
Roulette Spin #2

Album produced in 1974 by Multi-Track Sound Enterprises of Glendale, California – includes fold-out paper roulette board.

Roulette Board