I’ve had the opportunity of a lifetime recently – to help out someone that has some notable Fairlight disks. Since the owner of the disks does not have a Fairlight to access the disks, the disks were sent to me by this person and then I loaded them up into my Fairlight. I then recorded the sequences that are on the disks for the owner to be able to listen to them.
The disks have sounds and sequences for songs from the Pet Shop Boys first album – Please. The album was recorded from 1984 to 1985, and the PSB made great use of a Fairlight in producing that album (along with an E-mu Emulator II). The disks are still in nearly perfect working condition despite being nearly 30 years old! There is just the occasional bad file on them.
The liner notes for the Please anniversary release mention that Ade Cook was hired by the Boys to set up Fairlight sequences for use on a World Tour. Ade prepared several songs for the tour. It appears that Ade was given a copy of sounds from the master tracks on a Sony PCM F-1 “video” tape. The PCM F-1 was notable for being the first portable digital recorder, released in 1982. (See here: http://www.thevintageknob.org/sony-PCM-F1.html for more information.) He then sample sounds from the F-1 tape and built Page R sequences for them. Since the tour never happened, it appeared that Ade never finished these sequences and it can be seen as some of the disks are in various states of completeness.
But it’s been quite fascinating to look around in to a bit of music history – I feel part music historian, part computer forensics expert, and part voyeur getting to see and hear what is on these disks.
Here’s some pages which detail what is on the disks:
There are a few more to come in the near future.