The Soundies of Yesteryear

The music that time forgot is in a warehouse in Colorado Springs.

"The spirit of this older music fits really well with the spirit of the music we're putting out now," he says. "These people were innovators, and their music has a vibrancy that time just doesn't affect."

Cook finds it a bit odd that Soundies is taking off under the power of country music. "I never really liked that type of music that much," he admits. "But I wound up with a lot of country transcriptions anyway. And they sure have come in handy."

So, too, have transcriptions by Frank Yankovic, the polka king of the Forties and Fifties who died last October. Later this month, Soundies, in cooperation with Yankovic's widow, Ida, is presenting Frank Yankovic and His Yanks, a double-CD set with 41 previously unreleased tracks made for Standard Transcriptions. That will be followed by, among other items, transcription-based discs by Duke Ellington and Jimmy Dorsey. Cook, who does all of the disc-to-tape transferring on the efforts culled from his collection, says the just-completed process of pulling together the Dorsey album has been "just terrific."

If Cook isn't sure what transcriptions will be escaping from obscurity next, he's got a good excuse: He has only the vaguest idea what transcriptions he owns. He and his fiancee, Sally Kuehn, are in the process of computerizing his vast inventory--hence the presence of a Gateway computer amid the venerable equipment in his basement. Parks tells him that by performing this task, he'll increase the value of his assets tremendously, but he's mainly interested in "finding out what I've got."

Thus far, Cook hasn't found a practical use for many of the other items he's obtained over the years, including the complete control room from the CBS studio in Hollywood. But as his experience with Soundies has shown him, practicality can be overrated.

"There's an old expression: It takes a big tree to hold a hundred turkeys," King says, sounding like a chipper commentator from the radio days of his youth. "And I'm just glad I've got a big tree.

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