Guest blog from Norm at Motorcycho magazine.
In simpler days, it wasn't easy to access your favourite motorsport. If you weren't able to actually attend an event your only other option might be to read about it in a newspaper or find out months later in some magazine. One option that was sometimes available was to listen on a long play vinyl recording. For many years the Isle of Man TT races were available on record. Called Sound Stories, each year’s race was captured in sound and laid down 33rpm vinyl. Interviews with racers, the sounds of revving motors, and race commentary made up much of the content. These records were the gold standard for action-starved race fans.
Everything was on LP back in the day. Comedy, spoken word, instructional and sound effects.
Here are a few of my favourite motorcycle related sound effects LPs
Motorcycle Scramble Sound Effects.
The album cover pretty much says it all. This scramble race (precursor to motocross) was recorded around 1964 in New York at a race sponsored by the Davos Motorcycle Club. Riveting track titles like: Sounds of shifting on hill; Drivers talking at start line, and the always thrilling Sounds of Many Motorcycles make the LP sound much more exciting than it actually is. Great background if you want people to think you are at an actual race!
Scramble - The Sounds of Motorcycles at Speed
Recorded in 1961, these scramble sounds took place at Andre's Farm, again in NY state. Each track on side 1 of this LP focuses on the sounds of a different bike: Harley Davidson 165, Honda 125, Zundapp 250… Roll bike up to microphone, rev bike repeatedly, ride bike away, NEXT! The final five tracks on the LP are actual race sounds from different classes. The best way to experience this LP is to read the liner notes while listening, this will give you the most complete aural experience!
'Sickels Galore! - The Worlds Greatest Motorcycles racing wildly over the track
Maybe the cover is a giveaway, the exact same record as the Scramble LP but without the good liner notes!
Sounds of the Big Irons
This LP takes the sound effects/race album to another level. Not only do you get 'actual sounds… of championship cycles in action', but you also get the added bonus of instrumental interludes to spice it up. Part of the Liberty Records 'Action-Sound' series, I think the music is performed by their house band, The Hornets
Motorcycles USA - The Hornets
This LP focuses more on the music and less on the sound of sickles. Much like The Scramblers 'Cycle Psychos' LP, what you have here is generic instrumental music with added bonus cycle sounds. Summed up nicely on the cover, 'The most exciting sounds around are those of cycles and song about cycles…' The Hornets also did an LP called Big Drag Boats USA - same songs, different sounds?
Most of this LP focuses on a press conference Evel did for his Snake River jump. Other filler gems include Evel reciting a poem he wrote called 'Why' and the classic 'Evel talks with kids' where at one point it sounds like he hits a kid on the head telling him to 'wear a helmet!'. Also included (twice) is the one song 'Ballad of Evel Knievel' (also available on 45!). LP includes a nice 8X10 glossy of Evel suitable for framing.