As an amateur collector of curious recorded artifacts, and in an idle moment last week, I had the idea of adding some lashed-together videos of 78s to upload to youtube (inspired by way more dedicated people who have done likewise); the first completed was Sidney Bechet’s gorgeous and stately Egyptian Fantasy. I had planned to do something similar with flexidiscs and other oddities that I have acquired over the years (in truth mostly obtained for me by my brother, a rabid carbooter, ferocious haggler, and fantastic musician), and briefly started this project a few years ago (but abandoned it as quickly) via myspace as Random Audio Artifacts.
Having had a few items thus pre-prepared, I searched online for more images of Stainless Stephen, the performer featured on this lovely little thing:
being a 5″ cardboard 78rpm disc of unknown date, but bought in (and originating from) Manchester:
in order to augment an otherwise thin selection of images as accompaniment to Stainless Stephen’s paean to ‘the finest winter food in the world’.
Tripe, to the unenlightened, ‘is a type of edible offal from the stomachs of various farm animals‘, and Mr. Stainless is here extolling the virtues of Beef tripe, ‘which is usually made from only the first three chambers of a cow’s stomach: the rumen (blanket/flat/smooth tripe), the reticulum (honeycomb and pocket tripe), and the omasum (book/bible/leaf tripe). Abomasum (reed) tripe is seen much less frequently, owing to its glandular tissue content‘ (says Wikipedia).
This is tripe, alongside hooves and tongue, in a butcher’s window in Athens:
I imagined that, whenever this record was made, and then distributed to its audience via United Cattle Products outlets in an envelope like this,
tripe itself was then a kind of surrogate meat product, at a time of post-war British austerity (although the Athens picture above should have maybe told me otherwise) – and I must admit that Stephen himself was somewhat unconvincing (and maybe unconvinced) about its virtues and wonders.
I was therefore surprised to discover that not only does United Cattle Products maintain a presence on the interweb, but that “Stainless Stephen” Earns A Stripe had a page solely dedicated to it (placing it in 1935, 10 or so years older than I imagined), with photocopied images of the above disc, plus an envelope pic that looked as if it had been unearthed at Nag Hammadi rather than Heaton Chapel:
and that these images were obtained from the Hit of the Week blog, devoted to the collation and cataloguing of this particular form of budget pressing:
The card board Hit of the week – Durium records were released during the Depression years early 1930s, as a weekly, cheap, unbreakable and “durable” record in the US and Europe. This blog is dedicated to these rare ephemeral flexible records, which were released 80 years ago now.
I have a few other Durium discs, Mobil Oil Melody (‘Cars Run Better On Mobil Oil – It’s Slum Free!), plus 4 discs of a 6 disc set, Zoo Voices – Round The Zoo with Julian Huxley (I am missing Birds In The London Garden & The Larger Cats alas), but Hans Koert has constructed a fascinating history and discography of these curious discs here and elsewhere.
So I mailed both UCP and Hit Of the Week, with a link to the above images, plus an mp3 of the disc itself, and now both sites feature my own images as replacements for these older photocopies, here and here – and the UCP site also hosts the mp3, should anyone who has read thus far care to exercise their curiosity further.
And so, rather than having another odd audio/video post for this youtube ‘channel’, that few people might ever see or hear (and may quickly cease to exist if youtube’s Cease And Desist mails keep coming), I have instead the great pleasure of having helped two dedicated archivists update their archives, both working within an admirably-specific (and specifically divergent) dedication to their chosen pursuits: forgotten records and forgotten foodstuffs.
But a closer look at unitedcattleproducts.co.uk‘s small print reveals that
This site is not operated by, sponsored by, endorsed by, or affiliated with the United Cattle Products Ltd., their partners or sponsors…This site recognizes the historic importance of U.C.P. in promoting tripe in the United Kingdom and its purpose is to help further support the culture of this traditional dish by collecting and sharing memories, documents and images related to the United Cattle Products Ltd. for research, conservation and preservation purposes only
and that this is a subsidiary archiving project for the Accademia della Trippa (Academy Of Tripe); and I am informed by Robert from the Accademia itself that
the fascination with tripe comes from the love of the food, and the fact that is has always been considered a “B citizen”, notwithstanding the fact that every culture in the world has at least on recipe with cow’s tripe in it, from Africa to Australia.
We work in collaboration with Indro Neri, one of the Italian experts on tripe, having written several books on the subject ( http://www.troppatrippa.com), and his passion is contagious. Tripe is indeed more than just offal. It is part of local traditions, narrative, cinema and art, just to name a few.
all of which I had no idea of – my local butcher sells ‘green tripe for dogs’, but I see no indication that any colour of tripe is available for humans, and imagined that the rest of the world felt likewise. Communication with Accademia della Trippa corrected this smallminded (and I suspect specifically-English) misconception; The Academy’s site looks extensive, but, as a non-Italian reader, I can only take Robert’s own contagious passion on trust – but a statement of intent that
“The mission of the Accademia della Trippa is to recognize, endorse and help advertise any association, company, group, individual, publication, or website promoting the culture of tripe and its consumption”
alongside Hans Koert and his Hit Of The Week, helps renew and rebuild the kinds of joys and excitements that little things (like the disc that spawned all this) can bring, and makes the petty cynicisms, elitism, inattentions to detail and general vaguenesses that I’ve experienced as part of the ‘music industry’ as the self-negations that they often actually are.
Thank you Robert, thank you Hans, for brightening an otherwise frustrating Thursday afternoon.
(amazing Athens tripe photo by David Barrie)