If you’ve met a 10-year-old lately, you may have discovered that most of them have no idea what a vinyl LP is. But when records ruled the world, many of us enjoyed the occasional thin plastic “Flexidisc” found on the backs of cereal boxes, sandwiched into the pages of magazines, given away as promotional materials. One of my fond memories was of a flexi tucked into a copy of Mad Magazine with four different endings — a single starter groove bifurcated into four separate playout grooves near the end of the disc; the path chosen by the needle was determined by circumstances beyond the listener’s control. National Geographic also included Flexis from time to time — sounds of men walking on the moon, or of howler monkeys doing their thing. A flexi you could cut out from the back of a Honeycomb cereal box had a song by the Jackson 5, I remember.
WFMU in New York has a cool collection, and documents some of the funkier flexis as well as some interesting novelty record players like the Mighty Tiny, which I remember a neighbor kid having. You can even hear just how frightening the Mighty Tiny sounded. This “yodeling hankies” oddity is a trip.
4 Replies to “Classic Flexidiscs”
Four years ago, we asked a designer we work with (who was then 19) to produce a sleeve for putting a poster magazine into: “something like a gatefold album”. He had absolutely no idea what we were talking about.
I was single-handedly responsible for the destruction of many flexidiscs in my day. When I was a kid, and came into possession of a Flexidisc I would listen to it once or twice, and then use a lightbulb to heat it and distort it a bit, play it (sounding all distorted, distended, and weird) and then melt it a bit more, rinse and repeat until the disc was completely mutilated.
I guess I was a premature remix artist.
I vacation from time to time in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, near Tampa, and on the way to the place where we stay we drive by the headquarters of Eva-Tone, the company that manufactured many of these flexidiscs. Whenever we pass that place I wistfully recall my collection of vinyl, which I sold for the cash and also to reduce the overall weight of my belongings back in 1996 when I was relocating from Boston to Honolulu. Sigh.
However, I still have in my collection a copy of Joy Division’s “Komakino,” a single that was originally released only on flexidisc and handed out free to the public on the street.
Lastly, anyone who ever read Hermenaut will recall that we included a flexidisc in one of our issues back in the late 90s.
Thanks for bringing back these memories, Scot.
How the heck did I miss the Hermenaut FlexiDisc issue? What was on the disc? Looks like there hasn’t been an issue for quite a while :( Will there be more in the future?