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The Great Crepitation Contest of 1946

May 14th, 2008

Note: This recording contains material that may be offensive to some listeners.

For those of you who collect such ephemera, here's an unusual bit of radio memorabilia that should be an upgrade from copies that have been floating around on lps and the web.

In this post, "The Great Crepitation Contest of 1946", the granddaddy of all "party records" and a recording surrounded by much rumor and misinformation. Apparently, this was originally produced as an in-house joke by CBC sports announcer Sidney S. Brown assisted by CBC producer Jules Lipton. Some sources indicate the recording was done in Toronto in late 1940 at "Red" Foster's Studios on Alcorn Avenue. There have also been rumors for many years that it found its way to some in the US military who released it as a V-disc, although a V-disc or AFRS copy has never surfaced to my knowledge.

What we do know is that someone at Columbia Records in 1947 dubbed the program to a set of 78 rpm masters and pressed the recording on two 12" 78's, matrix numbers xxx1-4. The resulting set, with cover art by influential in-house graphic artist Alex Steinweiss (crediting himself as "Joe Blow" on the cover) and bright yellow Trillblow Records labels, was given to Columbia Records distributors as a premium. CBS president Ted Wallerstein nixed the release, but some copies did circulate.

I've never seen anyone on the web claiming to have an original Columbia pressing of "The Great Crepitation Contest", even though copies of the 78s were dubbed many times and released on various party lps over the years. But, here's proof that Columbia actually pressed and released the records - the discs are Columbia's laminated pressings of the period and the cover art is most definitely by Steinweiss. It's also an opportunity to hear the recording in a first-generation copy from the original Columbia 78 release.

You can read more about Steinweiss and see examples of his work at the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame and this site about Remington Records.

I obtained my copy of the "Great Crepitation Contest" in the mid 1990s, not really knowing what it was, from a man at a Winston-Salem flea market who owned a record store in the area for many years. I never had an opportunity to ask him where he got it.

Anyone seen another copy of this set? Any ideas on who the guys are in the photo in the inside front cover?

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