A Journey Into Stereo Sound is a vinyl LP I found for $1 at Lifeline Bookfest, a huge, twice-yearly book sale in Brisbane held by the charity Lifeline. I was anxious to get it home and play it, because it was dusty, but well cared for, and it looked like it had a lot of history.
Two things about the LP caught my eye: one was the title, which seemed familiar, and the other was the small ‘ffss’ (full frequency stereophonic sound) logo above the Decca logo on the front cover which looked very similar to the logo of the FFRR (full frequency range recordings) Records label. On the back of the LP cover are the slogans FULL FREQUENCY RANGE RECORDING and FULL FREQUENCY STEREOPHONIC SOUND. Once I got this record home, I learnt some interesting facts about it.
In 1958, when A Journey Into Stereo Sound was released, stereo sound was still quite new, and this was an introduction to stereo on vinyl.
Decca Records had already developed their full frequency range recording system (ffrr), which came about via a recording system developed in WWII which was designed to record and individually catalogue (by engine noise) enemy German submarines.
What began as a recording system, and then marketing slogan, much later became a dance music label when FFRR Records formed in 1986. FFRR went on to become a successful dance music label distributed at first by London Records and using the same original FFRR logo. So there was the connection with the logo designs and slogans.
Back to the other thing which intrigued me about this LP: the title, A Journey Into Stereo Sound…
In 1987 US hip hop duo Eric B & Rakim released the excellent Paid In Full album, and the title track was released as a single.
The track, Paid In Full, was remixed by UK producers and Ninja Tune label heads Coldcut . The full length remix (titled ‘Seven Minutes Of Madness – The Coldcut Re-Mix’) also featured on the soundtrack to the 1988 Hollywood film Colors.
If you know the Paid In Full remix, you’d be aware that at the beginning there’s a vocal sample of a British man proclaiming ‘This is a journey into sound…’ If you’re not familiar with it, here’s the video…
So it turns out that Coldcut used some of the narration from A Journey Into Stereo Sound in their Paid In Full remix, and I had wondered if this LP was that sample source when I picked it up at the sale. What a find!
The voice sampled by Coldcut is that of British actor and newsreel narrator, the late Geoffrey Sumner. The LP is essentially a demonstration record, with brilliant stereo recordings of classical pieces by various orchestras, as well as recordings of a train, a car race, and so on. Narration by Geoffrey Sumner features throughout as he introduces recordings or asks the listener to consider the delights of stereo sound. It’s really a beautiful piece of history on wax.
I’m not sure if this record was originally sold or given away for free as a marketing tactic, but having been released in 1958 it’s one of the first stereo LPs issued. It’s certainly a treasure to me, and I’m glad to have found it.