Monday, April 30, 2012

AUDIO: Phonies 1

Though the technology had been around in various forms for decades, it wasn't until the late 1970s that telephone answering machines began to take off as practical, relatively affordable home appliances. Just as the proliferation of cell phones years later would lead to a new market for obnoxious ring tones, the entry of the device into the average American's life also created a new product: the novelty answering machine message.

This example from 1977 includes 12 celebrity impersonations designed to delight (or more likely annoy) anyone who had the misfortune of ringing while you were out. Some of the personalities parodied on the tape are timeless legends of entertainment (Humphrey Bogart, Jack Benny, Peter Lorre, Groucho Marx), but many of the others are hilariously of the moment, reflecting the then-current state of politics and popular culture. Like some kind of goofy, uninformative time capsule, the tape also features send ups of 70s icons like Jimmy Carter, Paul LyndeTed Knight of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and, er, Idi Amin

So on the off chance you've been looking for a way to have a monstrous dictator or a beloved comedian to answer your phone, you've come to the right place, but these 10-15 second tracks are also pretty entertaining in their own right, especially when they come up on shuffle when you don't expect them.

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