What are the vinyl messages on the run-out groove that I am calling "record inscriptions?"
Well, here I am using that phrase to refer to the sometime cryptic text, typically
in upper case, which appears just beyond the outer edge of a vinyl LP and is not
any of the identifying serial numbers. These have always fascinated me and sometimes
their meaning is obvious, sometimes not. I encourage your feedback by e-mail to
I did get some good feedback on this queston from Stephen King. Not the writer,
but the former record biz guy! (Hear
the interview with Stephen.) Stephen "worked in Quality Control at Pye Records
for three years and then went on to Lyntone and became Quality Control Supervisor...Lyntone's
reputation was mainly for flexidiscs, however our main business became 12" &
7" vinyl records from the early 80s. Lyntone ceased manufacture of flexidiscs around
1988. The company closed just before Christmas 1990." Stephen revelas the mysteries
of the inscription, "Whilst most inscriptions in runout grooves are from Cutting
Engineers, a few have come from other sources including the factory employees! Whilst
at Lyntone a couple of guys in the Plating Shop (where positives and stampers are
made) got into trouble for writing "Platers do it every hour and a half!" on a Telstar
Greatest Hits record! The inscription was a double entendre in that it took around
1 1/2 hours to "grow" (electroform) a stamper and over here the term "plater" can
have another (sexual) meaning!!" Wow! Does anyone out there have that Telstar greatest
Consider, for instance, "BOPPIN' BOB" found on Ike & Tina
Turner The Later Greater Hits of Ike & Tina Turner & The Ikettes: Nice
"n" Rough (Liberty LBR 26-0021-1, 1984). Is Boppin' Bob a DJ, perhaps? No,
I think this is the nickname of Bob Jones. Jones re-mastered this album is famous
for excellent work in mastering, especially reissues. This leads me to believe these
messages are actually inscribed during the mastering process when the first, master
copy is made from which all subsequent instances of the album are pressed. Undoubtebly,
this identifies "Herbie Jr. :^)" appearing on the 12" EP Eartha
Kitt "Where is My Man" b/w "Where is My Man" (Street Wise SWRL 2217) as being Herbie
"Pump" Powers, Jr., cf.
http://www.disco-disco.com/tributes/herbie.html. It is apparent soul and
disco collectors use his signature inscriptions as marks of quality. This leads
me to ask, who is the "DAVE" listed on both sides of Andre Williams
Silky(In the Red ITR056 1998) right affter "MASTERED AT CAPITOL?"
Stephen King verified my Bob Jones theory, "Boppin Bob is indeed the nickname of
Bob Jones. Bob aquired the nickname whilst working at Pye Studios in London from
his habit of wiggling his legs in time to the music. A few other UK mastering engineers
who inscribed their name in the run out grooves are:
However, all are not so obvious. As I write this, I am listening to one of the most
exquisite pop albums of all time: my mono copy of The Beach
Pet Sounds (Capitol C1 0777 7 48421 1 2, 1966?). Side 1 says "DOS MANO."
"Mr. Hand?" A search on the web shows that, beside Spanish, this phrase may translate
in other languages. However the reverse has "EL SLACKO." This is probably some inside
Spanish lingo jokes from the group, I'd say. Another major label inscription is
on Yes Tormato (Atlantic SD 19202, 1978). Side
One says "STRAWBERRY - Seán". I am sure this is because disc cutting was done by
Seán Davis at Strawberry Studios, London. Did he fave permission to do this, or
did he just take the liberty to add his name to an album that he knew would be in
the hands of millions?
Long on of the favorites in my collections has been Saint
Vitus Saint Vitus (SST 022, 1984). This is part of the '80's Second Wave
of stoner rock, the first ripple after Black Sabbath's initial splash. Side One
says "SILENT AERIALS - THIS QUIETING" and Side Two offers "WORSHIPPING VOLCANOES
ON VIRGIN KNEES." I admit, it's been quite some time since I listened to this and
I popped it on, but there were many distractions during the listening. Still, I
do not think these are lyrical extracts. As a matter of fact, lyrics are printed
on the sleeve and I don't see these there. They remain mysterious.
There is a lyrical extract on MDC Smoke Signals (R Radical
Records MDC-4, 1986): "ALL GOD'S CHILDREN GOT TO HAVE THEIR FREEDOM" and on the
other side: "WHO LOVES YA? MDC LOVES YA."
The two sides of Skid Roper Lydia's Cafe (Triple
X 51044-1, 1991) offer "SKID WAS HERE" and "RECORDS STILL SOUND BETTER." I cannot
disagree with either sentiment. Co-produced with The Village Voice, the street
performer compilation Streat Heat (Cachalot CA 131, 1985) bore a sticker
that said "Independent Labels Make Good Records" and both side of the LP are inscribed
"MINSTREL's RULE." That is another pair of sentiments few of my fellow music enthusiasts
could disagree with. Ehtusiasm is something independent artists need to move forward
without hope of commerical success. On the A-Soma and Eve Libertine album Last One Out Turns Off the Lights the
pair offer as a battle cry on Side One "AWE OR NOTHING" further wittling down the
future options with the philosophical observation on Side Two "NOTHING DOES NOT
Of course, the LP format does not have an exclusive hold on these messages. Looking
through my 45RPM collection, I found two. On a Floor
/ Ed Matus' Struggle split-seven inch (Space Cadette Records 7, 1996) the Ed Matus'
Struggle side declares "CHUPA SANGRE!" Sangre is Spanish for blood, to me. As for
Hebrew: n. marriage,canopy
Spanish: v. [he] sucks
Swahili: n. bottle
Hindi: adj. hidden
Slovenian: slang. long hair
Tibet: national dress
Perhaps, then, this is "he sucks blood?" But who does, and why? (More on this below.) On the Floor side, we read, "ONE MILLION FROM THE SKY..."
I have another inscribed split single,
Penthouse / Country Teasers ( Butchers Wig SYRUP001, 1996). The A-Side has two phrases:
"BUTCHERED WIGGERY!" and "A PORKY PRIME HAIRY CUT." On the reverse, "SECOND BEST
WHITE DRUMMER OOT AE FIFE." and "ANOTHER PORKY PRIME CUT." The helpful Janette Ferrise
from the UK offers, "oot ae is Scottish dialect for out of, and Fife is a Scottish
town." This helps explain what "Edinburgh's least favorite sons" are getting at.
Peter Wolf made his nonsensical but rhythmic Bronx raps a singnature element of
his music. Maybe these neologisms are at the root of the inscruptions on The J. Geils Band Showtime! (EMI America, SO-17087). Side 1 says "THEESELBEE"
while Side 2 says something like "DaDAKRADUP." Recently (September 30, 200), I found
some more goofiness looking through my "H" section. Beach Bums Must Die! from Thee Headcoats is on Crypt (CR-024, 1990) and
says right on the label "SUPPORT VINYL!" I can't agree more with that. The inscription
reads DON'T BE [symbol of a square]" and the reverse says "BALLY TOG BOUND PIN HEADS."
What does that mean? Checking out dickcheese
from Hard-Ons (Taang! 26, [undated] we read "THE ADVENTURES OF 'FARTMAN' AND HIS
ENDLESS JOURNEY THROUGH THE REVERENT" with Side 2 offering "ARE WE GOING TO PERTH?
I CANT GUY MY TOOTH FELL OUT."
Sometimes if you have a lot of space, you just got to use it. That seems to be what
happened on Rhino Records RNEP 501 on "Disco Vinyl, an exclusive product of Rhino
Records Inc." This member of the Rhino Catalog is Some Kazoos by Temple City Kazoo Orchestra. The four covers on the 4-song
12" 45RPM EP features a bovine rendition of "Whole Lotta Love" as well as a angry,
nearly violent take on "Miss You" by the eleven-member kazoo ensemble. Side One
declares "a 'top ten' smash!" and "westrex 3D sound!" along with "kazoos... Americas
best entertainment value!" (This is an unusual use of almost all lower case letter
for an inscription as well as generous use of exclamation points.) Side Two sugggests
"LIKE THE RECORD? then SEE THE MOVIE!!" and "Rhine Records! Collect them all! Trade
them with your friends!"
What others are out there that you can document? What is the first ever used? What
is the longest message known? Is there a proper taxonomy, that is classification,
of these messages? Have any been spotted on 78s? I did spot one on one of those
maxi 45s when a young guy was showing me the few members of his just begun record
collection. The 45 was The Smiths Some Girls Are Bigger
Than Others and one side demanded INITIATE ME. Reader Angela Bender wrote
in, "Hi Im writing to you to let u know that I too have noticed these on a few of
my albums. On The Hooters Nervous Night LP I
have found on side 1 MANAYUNK,USA and on side 2 N.Y.RATZ On The Eagles Greatest Hits 1971-1975 LP I have found on side 1 "HAPPY NEW
YEAR, GLYNN--- and on side 2 -- WITH LOVE FROM BILL. I hope that u enjoy these inscriptions
I have found on my albums." I wonder what those mean? Thanks Angela! What's on your
Reader "pickle" gives some more examples:
Various: The Concert For Bangladesh - Hare Pecko (from George
Harrison's seriously religious period)
Kate Bush: Lionheart - Hope you like it!
Stranglers: No More Heroes - Handcarved for your listening pleasure
Kate Bush: Never For Ever - Remember yourself (this being a line from 'Don't Push
Your Foot On The Heartbrake' on Lionheart)
John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band: Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - Happy Xmas Porky
Kate Bush: Babooshka - Well done John 1st Dan (I assume this refers to her brother
getting a 1st Dan in judo)
Kate Bush: Breathing - We all share the same air (referring to this anti-nuclear
Kate Bush: December Will Be Magic Again - Merry Xmas from the B's (I'm guessing
this is the Bush family)
Kate Bush: The Sensual World - Up yours Ugly.
I never found out who Ugly was!
Reader Keith Murphy from NJ says:
On Phil Spector's first big hit, I think either the 45 of Uptown or
Hes a rebel, I forget, it says Phil + Annete...
(This is undoubtedly a reference to Annette nee Merar, Phil Spector's first wife.
He named Annette Records after her and that was the label he debuted Cher on.)
Stacey Erdman wrote: Hi there, Here are a few that I
have, we used to have fun looking for these... Off the top of my head, I recall:
Robert Fripp's The League of Gentlemen- "The next step is Discipline" - (and so
it was, with King Crimson) Kate Bush's The Sensual World - "up yours ugly" Heart's
Dog & Butterfly - one side said "Lurvin' " the other said, "With Love from Honna
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