This isn’t a typical music review, because it can’t be. There’s no single artist whose style can be latched onto and studied; it’s a various artists greatest hits from the breadth and depth of humanity. Perhaps it’s best treated as a historical document than a collection of music.
In 1977, with mere weeks to go before the launch of Voyager 2 (the first Voyager spacecraft to leave Earth), Carl Sagan, Jon Lomberg, Ann Druyan, Frank Drake, Linda Salzman, and Timothy Ferris won last-minute approval to assemble a kind of “time capsule” to attach to each Voyager. Copyright clearances had to be obtained, greetings had to be recorded, the whole thing had to be edited, mastered and pressed onto gold-plated copper records, to be encased in aluminum covers attached to the spacecraft…all in a matter of weeks. Photographs are also encoded onto the records, and those too had to be selected, annotated, and cleared for copyright. It was really something of a shotgun wedding as far as putting a record together goes – and at numerous stages of its development, there were high-ranking NASA officials who made it clear that, as far as they were concerned, Sagan’s greatest hits record could stay on Earth with him. The Golden Record was a bear to put together, and it was a constant struggle to keep it on the flight manifest.
The rapid ramp-up from idea to execution, as well as the state of the art in 1977, means that there’s some unavoidable tape hiss from the original recording media. Ozma Records has done a marvelous job of cleaning everything up as far as sound quality, but sometimes you can’t overcome the limitations of the original medium. The track list is exactly as it was on the LP attached to the Voyager spacecraft (which, as a result of being mastered at a lower speed than 33 1/3, could hold more information).
If you spring for the physical package of either vinyl records or CDs, a book is included with the complete selection of photos included on the original records, as well as essays and memoirs from those involved with the Golden Record who are still with us. I backed the initial Kickstarter for the project, but only up to the digital download level due to budgetary concerns on my end; I’m seriously considering circling back around and buying the Golden Record compilation a second time just for the book.
If there’s a feeling one gets from listening to this message-in-a-bottle thrown through the outer solar system and right through the heliosphere, it’s one of feeling humbled. The wide variety of life and experiences on Earth is mind boggling, and some of the sequencing is canny – the launch of a Saturn V rocket followed by the cries of a human baby. We’re still in our infancy, pushing our way into the universe by brute force, and still trying to figure out how we can survive a journey to another planet within our solar system. The Voyagers are going further – one of the Golden Records has already left the solar system, never to return – bearing a snapshot of our hopes and dreams circa the summer of 1977.
And in the troubled summer of 2017, maybe we need to revisit those hopes and dreams too.
This title is not being given a rating due to its unique nature.
- Greetings from the Secretary General of the United Nations – Kurt Waldheim (0:43)
- Greetings in 55 languages (3:46)
- United Nations greetings / Whalesong (4:04)
- The Sounds of Earth (12:18)
- Music of the Spheres by Laurie Spiegel
- Mud Pots
- Wild Dog
- The First Tools
- Tame Dog
- Herding Sheep
- Morse Code
- Horse and Cart
- F-111 Flyby
- Saturn 5 Lift-off
- Mother and Child
- Life Signs
- Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047: I. Allegro – Munich Bach Orchestra/Karl Richter (4:44)
- Ketawang: Puspåwårnå (Kinds of Flowers) – Pura Paku Alaman Palace Orchestra/K.R.T. Wasitodipuro (4:47)
- Cengunmé – Mahi musicians of Benin (2:11)
- Alima Song – Mbuti of the Ituri Rainforest (1:01)
- Barnumbirr (Morning Star) and Moikoi Song – Tom Djawa, Mudpo, and Waliparu (1:29)
- El Cascabel (Lorenzo Barcelata) – Antonio Maciel and Los Aguilillas with Mariachi México de Pepe Villa/Rafael Carrión (3:20)
- Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry (2:41)
- Mariuamang? – Pranis Pandang and Kumbui of the Nyaura Clan (1:25)
- Sokaku-Reibo (Depicting the Cranes in Their Nest) – Goro Yamaguchi (5:04)
- Bach: Partita for Violin Solo No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006: III. Gavotte en Rondeau – Arthur Grumiaux (2:58)
- Mozart: The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte), K. 620, Act II: Hell’s Vengeance Boils in My Heart – Bavarian State Opera Orchestra and Chorus/Wolfgang Sawallisch (3:00)
- Chakrulo – Georgian State Merited Ensemble of Folk Song and Dance/Anzor Kavsadze (2:21)
- Roncadoras and Drums – Musicians from Ancash (0:55)
- Melancholy Blues – Louis Armstrong and His Hot Seven (3:06)
- Mu?am – Kamil Jalilov (2:35)
- Igor Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps), Part II—The Sacrifice: VI. Sacrificial Dance (The Chosen One) – Columbia Symphony Orchestra/Igor Stravinsky (4:38)
- Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II: Prelude & Fugue No. 1 in C Major, BWV 870 – Glenn Gould (4:51)
- Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Opus 67: I. Allegro Con Brio – Philharmonia Orchestra/Otto Klemperer (4:38)
- Izlel e Delyu Haydutin – Valya Balkanska (5:04)
- Navajo Night Chant, Yeibichai Dance (Ambrose Roan Horse, Chester Roan, and Tom Roan (1:01)
- Anthony Holborne: The Fairie Round – Early Music Consort of London/David Munrow (1:19)
- Naranaratana Kookokoo (The Cry of the Megapode Bird) – Maniasinimae and Taumaetarau Chieftain Tribe of Oloha and Palasu’u Village Community (1:15)
- Wedding Song – Young girl of Huancavelica (0:42)
- Liu Shui (Flowing Streams) – Guan Pinghu (7:36)
- Bhairavi: Jaat Kahan Ho – Kesarbai Kerkar (3:34)
- Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground – Blind Willie Johnson (3:32)
- Beethoven:String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Major, Opus 130: V. Cavatina – Budapest String Quartet (6:41)
Released by: Ozma Records
Release date: 2017
Total running time: 1:51:04