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Vintage Sound Effects

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Album Review

Living Era presents a very British, carefully assembled, and meticulously described series of historical sounds generated by actual objects and living beings rather than mere "sound effects" intended to approximate reality. Of the 67 tracks, the first 13 involve horses, pulling conveyances, carts, coaches, and corn cutters. Tracks 14 through 16 document the replacement of the beasts with steam-driven "traction engines" or tractors. On track 17 the steam is used to drive a "roundabout" or merry-go-round equipped with a calliope steam organ playing a six-part medley of old-time melodies. Electricity arrives with tracks 18 through 20 and the sounds of electrically powered tramcars navigating the avenues among motorcars. Various street-corner newsboys and an old-fashioned, bell-clanging fire engine give way to 11 little episodes in the lives of the steam ships — their whistles, their engines, their paddles, and even the busy little telegraph. Tracks 35 and 36 provide brief examples of the sounds of a "colliery" or mining operation. Track 37 seems to extend the subterranean trope with the sounds of a London Underground or subway station during the 1950s. Tracks 38 through 48 reproduce the noises emitted by aeroplanes from both the First and Second World Wars. Tracks 49 through 52 re-create the presence of a mounted cavalry troop, brandishing swords and ultimately engaging in hand-to-hand combat. Now the progression of historical sounds becomes more varied: a horse-drawn gun carriage, a horse-drawn sleigh with jangling bells, barrel organs, children singing while skipping rope, street traffic, crowded markets and the London Stock Exchange, factory whistles and steam locomotives. The producers of this album of Vintage Sound Effects were so thorough as to include a page of detailed notes referring to most of the tracks, explaining who manufactured what, when and where the recordings were made, and other information deemed noteworthy. Perhaps the nicest of these explains that the traction engine heard on tracks 14, 15, and 16 was built by Fowler of Leeds in 1898, cost 140 pounds when new, was owned by Mr. E. Mack of Bodham, Norfolk, and was named Susannah.

Vintage Sound Effects, Old Style Sound Effects
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