[Slowhand] Off Topic (OT) - LOSING THE PAST - BBC radio 4 programme.

David P. Roberts daver at compute.com
Fri Jan 6 11:57:01 EST 2006

More on the challenges of the deterioration of recordings...

"A timely investigation into the loss of cultural, public and historical
records, both analogue and digital, as a result of deterioration or advances
in technology.

Music and film don't fare much better. Valuable music recordings can't be
played anymore because of tape damage. For example, the master tapes of rock
classics like the Eagles' Hotel California , or REM's Automatic for the
People have fallen victim to "sticky shed syndrome", which means the tape is
literally sticking together as its chemical constituents come apart. Other
recordings are in better shape, but are still at risk of being lost as the
technology has become obsolete, and so the machinery to play them is
becoming increasingly rare. While films from the 1920s are so flammable
they have to be kept in low-temperature bunkers away from human dwellings.

In Part One of Losing the Past, Richard Hollingham investigates specific
examples of what is now unplayable or unreadable. For example, he can reveal
for the first time, that the UK population census data from 1951 are lost,
as are significant parts of the 1961 and 1971 census data. And he hears from
the long-term percussionist of The Grateful Dead, Mickey Hart, why the
Grateful Dead, unlike other leading touring bands, still have all their
master tapes intact. He also finds out about successful efforts on both
sides of the Atlantic for preserving and recuperating sound and music. "


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