If the late great hip-hop producer & famed crate digger J Dilla were alive today he would have been the first in line at Amoeba Hollywood (or first online at the Amoeba.Com store) to scoop up the endless extremely rare vinyl gems that make up the absolutely amazing, treasure trove of "library music" recently acquired by Amoeba. This very rare specialized record collection is of interest to producers, DJs, and avid crate-diggers eternally looking for that never before discovered, perfect beat or sound to sample or manipulate in the mix.
Quietly unveiled a little on June 17th both online and in the Hollywood Amoeba store (in the main room "sampler" aisle + a full bin's worth in the back jazz room) word has not yet really gotten out on this unprecedented collection that will make any true crate digger salivate for days. So there's still time to unearth lots of golden finds among the close to 2000 different vinyl records from this collection that is so rare that Google searches will only lead to data on about a quarter of these rarities that found their way to Amoeba Music care of a Canadian distributor / collector who had been sitting on this rare collection for three decades.
Amoeblogger Mr. Chadwick recently described this "music library" collection as; "These LPs contain music produced and owned by production music companies, who licensed the music to film, television, radio, record producers, and other composers. The music was produced with the most accurate attention to a generic style or context, so that it would fit with any precise musical needs of the user." Extremely limited in their respective vinyl pressings the companies who made these sound library collections include the likes of Colorsound, Hibou, Spectrum, Intersound, Telemusic, and Intl. SFX, and boast rare titles like Commercial Music Bed Series by Interwestern Production Music Corp.
The sounds and genres included run the gamut from jazz grooves, psychedelic & space rock, to ambient and various ethnic strains. As Mr. Chadwick noted there are endless isolated, sample ready musical sounds including various percussion, bass, guitar, synths, and lots more.
Producer, DJ, and Stones Throw label founder Peanut Butter Wolf shops the Library Music collection at Amoeba Hollywood:
Amoeba Hollywood's Rick Frystak, who via email a few days ago described the collection to me as full of "TONS of killer shit," had the envious task of being the first to listen to & needle drop his way through this vast and most unique collection of music and sounds. Yesterday I caught up with Rick to pick his brain about this collection in more detail.
Amoeblog: What kind of music fans have been checking out this collection since it became available at Amoeba?
Rick Frystak: I have seem many types of buyers here with stacks of LPs in their arms. I know library music enthusiasts and collectors, jazz collectors, re-sale dealers, young vinyl collectors, sound effects and music editors in the film biz who have purchased the LPs. Our friend Paul collects what he calls, "People-Mover Jazz," named after the music he describes inside the ride at Disneyland!
As there are only two real kinds of music in this world, "good" and "bad," the collection has something for everyone interested in fascinating sounds. I feel that Amoeba has been given a sort of cosmic gift in getting this collection and being able to pass it on to everybody. As these LPs sell and are gone, we probably will never see the majority of them again.
Amoeblog: As a music fan, being first to go through this collection must have been a real treat for you.
Rick Frystak: It was a real treat. I am so grateful to have these types of things come into my being as my "work." It's great to totally immerse oneself in such an unusual collection. Usually, I look at records and know what they sound like, but for this collection, I set up a USB turntable next to my research computer, and played a few minutes of music from each record from most of the collection. That way, I could know what is in the music, and write some descriptions on the outer plastic sleeves, as most of the records have no description of what is in them...very much a "generic" type of packaging. I was fascinated by what is in these discs. Most of them I could find no information about them on the web, so I had to do it myself. It was certainly much more fun to play the records and then have an idea of where they fit in my musical descriptive language.
Amoeblog: Rick, you've seen a lot of music over the years. Did this collection truly qualify as "rare?"
Rick Frystak: Yes, very rare indeed. I have never seen this much Library music in one place in all my 38 years in this biz. It came from a collector in Canada who said that it is the collection of a longtime production music collector and distributor, so there are multiple copies of many, many tiles...new-old stock!
Amoeblog: For the casual music fan how do you describe this "library music" collection and what makes it unique?
Rick Frystak: Production Music "libraries" are companies (record labels) that manufacture and distribute large varieties (libraries) of production music. The stuff they deal in is music and sound that is sold and licensed by the companies for any uses in the film business, music business, the television industry, advertising and corporate production, mostly technical producers who need generic or "background" music to use in any project, without having access to musical resources that they can insert into their project and call their own, legally. The records and CDs are usually "themed" with a certain sound, style or energy that is needed by the user. There may be many variations of the style on one disc (with drums, without piano, big string section etc.), so that you could try different selections with your project and see what works best, then buy or license the bits or songs you need from the company for an affordable fee, which is usually much cheaper than paying a composer or musician to provide music for the project.
The companies that sell and license this music have huge selections, or "libraries" of many styles and genres of sounds, so the "Library" genre label comes from this reference to the collection style and size that each company amasses, and then promotes as their individual, unique "library." This is music that is made by musicians and composers, many who are widely known, and many who work for a specific company exclusively, so to get their "sound" you would purchase or license from that specific company.
To even have collection of this size in one place of this "Library" music is very rare, as these records are usually not owned by the general public, and are of very limited manufacture in number. There are so many styles and genres and sounds in here...absolutely mind-blowing, and unprecedented in a music store.
Jeff Newman "The Unknown" from album Satellite Images 1 (A Musical Space Age Portrait Vol 1)
Amoeblog: Specifically what years are these records from?
Rick Frystak: The records are from the late 1950s until the mid 1980s.
Amoeblog: Rick, I am most impressed that you listened to all of this vast collection. So tell me, how long did it take you to get through such a vast collection and what kind of things were you listening for as you perused your way through it all?
Rick Frystak: I went through about 1700 records in about 3 weeks, spending most of the day on them. Some records I played for 90 seconds and knew what was happening, and others were so good I couldn't get enough. I really heard everything you can imagine! I wasn't really looking for any type of thing, but I was hoping to come across some jazz-funk and fusion, as well as some modern orchestral and electronic stuff....my own faves! I found all of that and more. I love the excitement of picking up the next record and having it be a killer!
Amoeblog: What were some of the unexpected audio treats you uncovered as you needle dropped your way through?
Rick Frystak: I found tons of fascinating synthesizer and midi-studio stuff, made by guys in their own studios with all the sampling and sound gear hooked up to the computer. I never knew all this stuff existed, especially from the early 1980s when home studios started to flourIsh, and composers who worked for these companies would crank this stuff out faster than Tangerine Dream on speed! I found many Twilight Zone -style dramatic, mysterious scores. I also found many records by well-known composers and musicians like Bill Nelson, Billy May, Toots Theilemans, Ray Russell, Magma, Mo Foster, Tony Hymas, Manfred Schoof...folks who I know by their publicly-released music who have made Library records.
And we got LPs by the heavies in the biz, like Roger Roger, Alan Hawkshaw, and Peter Thomas. Amazing Walter Murphy funk LPs! Of course, some choice pieces in libraries like Chappell and KPM I did expect. The thing that most impressed me were the totally unknown-to-me composers like Alan Will, who make wonderful, amazing records that would stand up on their own outside of the Library business. There are hundreds upon hundreds of these things for sale in this collection.
Amoeblog: I read about some of the "cosmic synths" sounds in the collection. What other predominant instrumentation is there?
Rick Frystak: Lots of orchestral music, lots of small group sounds (say...drums, bass, piano , guitar, woodwinds or brass). Also many jazz-rock sounds with a sax lead or piano melody.
Amoeblog: If you were to break it down into sub-genres; what are the main ones that this collection falls under?
Rick Frystak: Jazz, Swing, Rock (of all genres), Funk, Soundtrack, Electronic, Ambient, Synth-pop, Avant Garde, light Classical...even a yodel and whistling LP. Many, many styles and genres that one could imagine, as these companies want to appeal to the need of any producer that is seeking a particular sound.
Amoeblog: Did you hear a lot of breaks that could be used by hip-hop producers?
Rick Frystak: Yes...hundreds of them. There are so many records with various 4/4 drum rhythms on them that I became delirious with joy, as I know they are sought-after. Lots of the LPs would be perhaps orchestral, and then in the middle of them there would be one track with a great break or a "beat" version of the cue.
Most of these records have never been blogged about or written about in the lore, and haven't had any sales histories, so they will be unknown to the people who all look for this stuff, but only who know the more famous records. The companies themselves may be "famous" within the Library genre, but a specific record would have no data whatsoever on the web. The opportunities here are immense.