Flexi disc

Last updated
Flexi discs like this Interface Age "Floppy ROM" program sheet were occasionally included as inserts in computer hobbyist and video game magazines during the late 1970s and early 1980s. FloppyRom Magazine.jpg
Flexi discs like this Interface Age "Floppy ROM" program sheet were occasionally included as inserts in computer hobbyist and video game magazines during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The flexi disc (also known as a phonosheet, Sonosheet or Soundsheet, a trademark) is a phonograph record made of a thin, flexible vinyl sheet with a molded-in spiral stylus groove, and is designed to be playable on a normal phonograph turntable. Flexible records were commercially introduced as the Eva-tone Soundsheet in 1962, [1] [2] and were very popular among children and teenagers and mass-produced by the state publisher in the Soviet government.[ citation needed ]



Before the advent of the compact disc, flexi discs were sometimes used as a means to include sound with printed material such as magazines and music instruction books. [3] A flexi disc could be moulded with speech or music and bound into the text with a perforated seam, at very little cost and without any requirement for a hard binding. [4] One problem with using the thinner vinyl was that the stylus's weight, combined with the flexi disc's low mass, would sometimes cause the disc to stop spinning on the turntable and become held in place by the stylus. [3] For this reason, most flexi discs had a spot on the face of the disc for a coin, or other small, flat, weighted object to increase the friction with the turntable surface and enforce consistent rotation. If the turntable's surface is not completely flat, it is recommended that the flexi disc be placed on top of a full sized record. [5]

In Japan, starting in the early 1960s, Asahi Sonorama published the monthly Asahi Sonorama magazine which included an inserted flexi disc ("Sonosheet"). [6]

Every year between 1963 and 1969, The Beatles made a special Christmas recording which was made into a flexi disc and sent to members of their fan club. While the earlier discs largely contained 'thank you' messages to their fans, the later Christmas flexis were used as an outlet for the Beatles to explore more experimental areas; the 1967 disc, for example, became a pastiche of a BBC Radio show and even included a specially recorded song entitled "Christmas Time (Is Here Again)."

In 1964, the National Geographic Society released Song and Garden Birds of North America which included a 12-sided clear flexidisk, bound alternating with pages giving the titles and birds on the recordings. The work was done by Arthur A. Allen and Peter Paul Kellogg of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.[ citation needed ]

The August 1965 issue of National Geographic Magazine included a soundsheet of the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill narrated by David Brinkley. The recording has the sounds of the funeral procession to St. Paul's, a hymn sung by the leaders of the world, and an excerpt of the funeral sermon. Excerpts from various recordings of Churchill's speeches are included. The recording ends with bagpipes accompanying Churchill's coffin to the funeral barge on the Thames, as the public phase of the funeral ends.[ citation needed ]

During the 1970s, MAD magazine included Soundsheets in several special editions. One was a dramatization of "Gall in the Family Fare", its parody of "All in the Family," packaged with MAD Super Special #11 (1973). The Summer 1980 edition of MAD Super Special (published in 1979) featured "It's a Super-Spectacular Day", a song with eight different versions pressed into eight concentric grooves; which version was played depended on where the needle was dropped onto the disc. Another issue included "It's a Gas", a song whose lyrics were belches. [7] [8] There was also a "Mad Disco" special issue containing a Soundsheet.

ABBA/Live 77 was a special single-sided promo gold flexi disc given as a bonus to children who sold magazines and books at Christmas for Jultidningsförlaget, a publishing company using door sales as their main distribution channel. The disc contained excerpts from the Swedish group's recent concert appearance in Australia.

A two-sided flexible sheet record of the songs of humpback whales (produced by Roger Payne) was included with the January 1979 issue of National Geographic Magazine. With a production order of 10,500,000 copies, it became the largest single press run of any record at the time.

Computer magazines began to provide software in audio form "Vinyl Data" on flexi discs from June 1979 until 1986. [9]

While flexi-discs were usually just used as occasional giveaways, from 1980 to 1982, Flexipop made a speciality of giving away such a disc with each edition. Compact discs and the internet have rendered flexi discs largely obsolete, but gimmick discs are still produced occasionally: Amelia’s Magazine included a one-sided Libertines flexi of What Katie Did. [10] [11]

American manufacturer Eva-Tone, believed to be one of the last manufacturers of flexi discs, stopped production of the product in August 2000. [4]

As of December 2010, Pirates Press, an independent record manufacturing company based in San Francisco, California, USA, has started production of flexi discs of various sizes and color.

In November 2010 extreme metal magazine Decibel began releasing flexi discs with each issue, starting with the January 2011 issue. The content on the disc features "100 percent exclusive songs" from artists that have been previously featured in the publication. [12] [13]

In October 2011, the Los Angeles-based record company, Side One Dummy Records, teamed up with Alternative Press to offer a Title Fight flexi disc (containing 2 previously unreleased B-Sides) along with a year of AP subscription as a limited edition offer. Due to manufacturing delays the discs arrived packaged with the November issue of AP magazine in mid December. [14]

On April 2, 2012, Third Man Records released 1000 flexi discs tied to blue helium balloons into the air in Nashville, Tennessee. The discs contained the first release of "Freedom At 21", a track on Jack White's debut solo album, Blunderbuss . It is estimated that fewer than 100 of the discs will ever be found and they will be a valuable collector's item for many years.[ citation needed ]

On April 20, 2012, Domino Recording Company released a zine exclusively for Record Store Day that included five individual, multi-colored flexi-discs, each containing a song by Dirty Projectors, Real Estate, Cass McCombs, John Maus, and Villagers. The Dirty Projectors disc was previewed on April 19 by frontman Dave Longstreth via a YouTube video of him playing the record on a turntable. [15] [16]

In 2012 Rookie online magazine released its first hardcopy edition, Rookie Yearbook One, [17] which contained a red flexi disc with two songs written specifically for the site: "I Don't Care" by Dum Dum Girls and "Rookie" by Supercute!.

In the summer 2013 issue of German fanzine PUNKROCK!, the punk rock band Riots, based in Oslo, Norway, gave away a free 2-track exclusive flexi disc to the 200 odd subscribers of the fanzine. This flexi featured 2 tracks - Riots and We're All Slaves. [18] This was pressed by Pirates Press out of the USA.

Shortly before the release of the 2014 Foo Fighters album "Sonic Highways" some of the pre-orders came with a cover of Two Headed Dog on Flexi-Disk

In the summer 2015, PizzaDischi, an independent record manufacturing company based in Italy, has started production of flexi discs too, in collaboration with the European Slimer Records independent label run by Panda Kid members, dedicated to limited and rare edition of worldwide artists.[ citation needed ]

In the Soviet Union

Flexi discs were mass-produced from 1964 to 1991 by the Soviet government as inserts in the popular Krugozor magazine for teens. The appearance of the Soviet flexi disc was always the same, vivid blue, and the discs are familiar to virtually anyone who grew up in the Soviet Union and even the post-Soviet era. In 1969 in addition to the successful audio-magazine Krugozor, the government also launched the audio-magazine for children Kolobok, which also consisted of flexi disks.

Because of a shortage of vinyl recording material (and official censorship of some Western music) during the Soviet era, bootleg recordings known as Ribs , Bones or roentgenizdat were produced on discarded medical X-ray prints. The musician Stephen Coates of UK band The Real Tuesday Weld has created the X-Ray Audio Project devoted to these. [19] [20] [21]

Human League track

"Flexi Disc" is also the title of a spoken-word track recorded by electronic band The Human League on a flexi disc which accompanied their 12" single "The Dignity of Labour" in 1978. Re-released as a bonus track on their album Reproduction , the song is a discussion between the band members concerning the advantages and disadvantages of the flexi disc format and the possibility of including one with the album to provide commentary. [3] [22]

See also

Related Research Articles

Disc jockey Person who plays recorded music for an audience

A disc jockey, more commonly abbreviated as DJ, is a person who hosts recorded music for an audience. Most common types of DJs include radio DJs, club DJs, who perform at a nightclub or music festival and turntablists who use record players, usually turntables, to manipulate sounds on phonograph records. Originally, the "disc" in "disc jockey" referred to vinyl records, but nowadays DJ is used as an all-encompassing term to also describe persons who mix music from other recording media such as cassettes, CDs or digital audio files on a CDJ or a laptop. The title "DJ" is often used by DJs in front of their real names, adopted pseudonyms, or stage names.

Phonograph Device for playback of acoustic sounds stored as deviations on a disk or cylinder

The phonograph is a device for the mechanical recording and reproduction of sound. In its later forms, it is also called a gramophone or, since the 1940s, a record player. The sound vibration waveforms are recorded as corresponding physical deviations of a spiral groove engraved, etched, incised, or impressed into the surface of a rotating cylinder or disc, called a "record". To recreate the sound, the surface is similarly rotated while a playback stylus traces the groove and is therefore vibrated by it, very faintly reproducing the recorded sound. In early acoustic phonographs, the stylus vibrated a diaphragm which produced sound waves which were coupled to the open air through a flaring horn, or directly to the listener's ears through stethoscope-type earphones.

Phonograph record Disc-shaped vinyl analog sound storage medium

A phonograph record, often simply record, is an analog sound storage medium in the form of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove. The groove usually starts near the periphery and ends near the center of the disc. At first, the discs were commonly made from shellac; starting in the 1940s polyvinyl chloride became common. In the mid-2000s, gradually, records made of any material began to be called vinyl records, or simply vinyl.

Scratching turntablism technique

Scratching, sometimes referred to as scrubbing, is a DJ and turntablist technique of moving a vinyl record back and forth on a turntable to produce percussive or rhythmic sounds. A crossfader on a DJ mixer may be used to fade between two records simultaneously.

Unusual types of gramophone records

The overwhelming majority of records manufactured have been of certain sizes, playback speeds, and appearance. However, since the commercial adoption of the gramophone record, a wide variety of records have also been produced that do not fall into these categories, and they have served a variety of purposes.

Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab is a record label specializing in the production of audiophile recordings. The company is best known for its reissued vinyl LP records, compact discs, and Super Audio CDs but has also produced other formats.

Cardboard record

A cardboard record was a type of cheaply made phonograph record made of plastic-coated thin paperboard. These discs were usually small, had poor audio quality compared to vinyl or acetate discs, and were often only marginally playable due to their light weight, slick surface, and tendency to warp like a taco shell. Playability could be improved by placing a coin between the lock groove and the spindle hole to add weight and stability. These records are distinct from both flexi discs, which are sturdier, and from many of the old home-recording discs since cardboard discs were mass-produced for a specific purpose.

Decibel is a monthly heavy metal magazine published by the Philadelphia-based Red Flag Media since October 2004. Its sections include Upfront, Features, Reviews, Guest Columns and the Decibel Hall of Fame. The magazine's tag-line is currently "Extremely Extreme" ; the editor-in-chief is Albert Mudrian.

Private Eye, the British fortnightly satirical magazine, has produced various comedic audio recordings since its founding in 1961.

<i>Reproduction</i> (album) 1979 studio album by The Human League

Reproduction is the first album released by British synthpop group The Human League. The album was released in 1979 through Virgin Records.

<i>Long Yellow Road</i> (Toshiko Akiyoshi Trio album) 1961 studio album by Toshiko Akiyoshi

Long Yellow Road and the nearly identical release, Tosiko Akiyosi Recital [sic] is a jazz trio recording made by the pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi in Tokyo in February 1961.

LP record Analog sound storage medium

The LP is an analog sound storage medium, a phonograph record format characterized by a speed of ​33 13 rpm, a 12- or 10-inch diameter, and use of the "microgroove" groove specification. Introduced by Columbia in 1948, it was soon adopted as a new standard by the entire record industry. Apart from a few relatively minor refinements and the important later addition of stereophonic sound, it has remained the standard format for record albums.

Conservation and restoration of vinyl discs

The conservation and restoration of vinyl discs refers to the preventive measures taken to defend against damage and slow degradation, and to maintain fidelity of singles, 12" singles, EP, LP in 45 or 33⅓ rpm disc recordings. LPs are most often in the 12” format, although very early vinyl recordings were 10”. Vinyl LP preservation is generally considered separate from conservation, which refers to the repair and stabilization of individual discs. Commonly practiced in major sound archives and research libraries that house large collections of audio recordings, it is also frequently followed by audiophiles and home record collectors. Because vinyl—a virtually unbreakable light plastic made up of polyvinyl chloride acetate copolymer, or PVC—is considered the most stable of analog recording media, it is seen as less a concern for deterioration than earlier sound recordings made from more fragile materials such as acetate, vulcanite, or shellac. This hardly means that vinyl recordings are infallible, however, and research—both expert and evidential—has shown that the way in which discs are handled and cared for can have a profound effect on their longevity. Though some 45s (7”s) are also made from vinyl, many of them are actually polystyrene—a more fragile medium that is prone to fracturing from internal stress. Still, many of the recommendations for the care of vinyl LPs can be applied to 45s.

Flexipop was a British pop music magazine that ran from 1980 to 1983, which featured a flexidisc in each issue. The magazine was launched in 1980 by ex-Record Mirror journalists Barry Cain and Tim Lott. One of the most notable issues was the February 1981 disc featuring Adam and the Ants performing a version of the Village People hit "Y.M.C.A.", called "A.N.T.S.". Flexipop's last released flexidisc was "In The Mix" by Haysi Fantayzee in 1983

Krugozor was a musical magazine with flexi-discs issued in the Soviet Union by Melodiya. The magazine was started in 1964. From 1968, it published a related-issue magazine for children, Kolobok. Krugozor was published at Pravda publishing house.

Asahi Sonorama (朝日ソノラマ) is a Japanese book, magazine, and manga publisher and a division of Asahi Shimbun. "Sonorama" is a coined word combining sonus, the Latin word for "sound", and horama, the Greek word for "sight". The name was acquired through the purchase of the trademark for sonosheets.

<i>The Inalienable Dreamless</i> 2000 studio album by Discordance Axis

The Inalienable Dreamless is the third and final studio album by grindcore band Discordance Axis, released on Hydra Head Records on August 13, 2000. It has since become one of the most acclaimed grindcore albums of all time. The album, along with its production history, was made the subject of the 2012 book Compiling Autumn: The Making of Discordance Axis' "The Inalienable Dreamless", a limited edition paperback that was released to aid the Japanese Red Cross Society. The album was repressed on black and blue vinyl for Record Store Day in 2011.

"F.O.D. " is a song by Canadian extreme metal band Slaughter. Written by bandmembers Dave Hewson, Terry Sadler and Ron Sumners and produced by Brian Tailor, the song was included in the band's 1987 debut album, Strappado, released in 1987 via Diabolic Force and Fringe Records.

<i>The Thompson Twins Adventure</i>

The Thompson Twins Adventure is a 1984 graphic adventure game that was distributed by Computer and Video Games magazine as a promotional 7" flexi disc "freebie" along with its October 1984 issue. The game is based on the Thompson Twins' single "Doctor! Doctor!", and features the Thompson Twins band members as the protagonists. The unusual storage format of the game showcases an experimental technique pioneered by the London-based Flexi Records label, and places the game alongside a small handful of other games distributed on grooved disks. This format never became established and The Thompson Twins Adventure is today valued more for its nostalgic and artifactual value than for its ludological aspects which have been uniformly panned by critics.

<i>Spoiled Identity EP</i> 2014 EP by Iron Reagan

Spoiled Identity EP is an EP released by American crossover thrash band Iron Reagan. It was originally released as a free online download and as a 7-inch flexi disc in the June 2014 issue of Decibel. Recorded during the sessions for The Tyranny of Will, its tracks "The Living Skull", a tribute to Dave Brockie, and "Your Kid's an Asshole" were later featured as part of that album. Two additional tracks, "U Lock the Bike Cop" and "Glockin' Out" were included as bonus tracks on a 2015 limited edition 12-inch vinyl release.


  1. Penchansky, Alan (November 10, 1979). "New Building for 'Soundsheets' Firm". Billboard. Vol. 91 no. 45. New York: Billboard Publications. p. 88. ISSN   0006-2510.
  2. US Trademark for "Soundsheets" was granted to Eva-Tone Soundsheets, Inc. in 1982. The term was first used in commerce in April 1962. Trademark Serial Number: 73399790, Registration Number: 1258434
  3. 1 2 3 Foley, Ryan (June 18, 2007). "Disposable Pop: A History of the Flexi Disc". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  4. 1 2 "Soundsheet Product Line is Retired". Eva-tone. August 2000. Archived from the original on October 25, 2004. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  5. Cumella, Mike (2000). "The Bendable Sounds of Flexi-Discs". Least Common Denominator (25). Jersey City, NJ: WFMU . Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  6. "Asahi Sonorama to Be Dissolved, Asahi Shimbun Takes over Manga Operation". Comi Press. 2007-06-22. Archived from the original on 11 October 2008. Retrieved 2016-10-13.
  7. "Question about "It's A Gas" by Alfred E. Newman". Steve Hoffman Music Forums. 2006. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  8. "Alfred E. Neuman – It's A Gas". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  9. "Video games in vinyl grooves". discogs.com. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  10. "Forum". Frenchdogwrittles.myfastforum.org. Retrieved 2014-05-16.[ permanent dead link ]
  11. "Stylus article". Stylusmagazine.com. Retrieved 2014-05-16.
  12. "Decibel Announces Exclusive Flexi Disc Series!". Decibel . November 18, 2010. Retrieved November 23, 2010.
  13. Rosenberg, Axl (November 16, 2010). "Decibel Gets Even Awesomer, Introduces Monthly Exclusive Flexi Discs Starting in 2011". MetalSucks. Retrieved November 23, 2010. In 2011 independent London-based record label X-Ray Recordings set up, releasing predominantly limited edition runs of flexidiscs for new bands. Their first release with post-punk band Trogons has now sold out and they continue to release more flexidiscs on a semi-regular bases.
  14. "Title Fight Flexi Disc 7" with AP Magazine Subscription". Side One Dummy. October 20, 2011. Retrieved December 18, 2011.
  15. Maloney, Devon (April 19, 2012). "Hear Dirty Projectors' Record Store Day Demo 'You Against the Larger World'". SPIN . Retrieved May 19, 2012.
  16. ""Smugglers Way Vol. 1," Domino USA". Domino USA. April 20, 2012. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
  17. "Rookie » Rookie Yearbook One". Rookiemag.com. Retrieved 2014-05-16.
  18. "| Seite 2". Punkrock-fanzine.de. 2013-11-08. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2014-05-16.
  19. The X-Ray Audio Project an archive of information and examples of Soviet 'roentgenizdat' flexi discs
  20. More "rock on bones" roentgenizdat flexi records
  21. Vitaliev, Vitali, Dancing with String Bags in the Snow, column in Engineering & Technology Magazine, Vol. 9, Iss. 8, September 2014, p.106, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, London
  22. "League History". TheHumanLeague.net. Archived from the original on February 10, 2010. Retrieved March 18, 2010.