From the archives of KALX 90.7 FM in Berkeley…
Sebastian Speaks! Your Watchdog on a Disc.
Featuring Sebastian Von Willow, as trained by his owner, C. Brooks Whitfield
San Francisco: Grr-r Records (In-Sync), 1980
The notes on the back are fabulous. Click to enlarge and read in detail:
- Thieves — Beware of Sebastian!
Sebastian Von Willow actually lives in Woodside, California. He is the mainspring of a family of five active people plus two lesser dogs, a parrot, squads of cats and some horses down by the barn. Like many German Shepherds, he really is two dogs in one. He is the playful family companion, pal, clown, tease, and general nuisance. And he is his family’s sentry — always on the alert for the unusual — a noise that shouldn’t be, a stranger at the door or lurking nearby. Day or night, Sebastian is ON GUARD… ready to warn, protect, defend. [...]
What this Record Is And Isn’t…
No, this record is not a burglar alarm. And it is not guaranteed to fend off burglars or intruders. But it will help you create an illusion that there is a watchdog — a Sebastian of your own — right there behind your front door or in the back of the house.
Here are some suggestions for putting Sebastian to work in your home: when you go out, leave Sebastian playing at a moderate volume (test for the right setting by listening outside with doors and windows closed). Sebastian’s volume level should suit the natural ambiance of your home. Your record player should be set on “repeat” or the record changer arm or grippers should be set so the cycle will repeat. Turn on a portable radio, too. Each time you go out, vary the radio settings — sometimes no radio, other times a different program or volume. Sebastian loves the radio — any program — and will stay with you, restlessly snuffling and barking as long as you’re away. [...]
For variety, you can adjust your turntable or record player to 45 RPM, and PRESTO! You’ve got a convincing middle-size dog sound. Perhaps Sebastian Jr. won’t seem quite as huge — but menacing, nonetheless!
How to Care for Sebastian
Sebastian is the easiest watchdog to care for in the world! He needs no food, no shots, never sheds, is perfectly obedient, has no embarrassing “doggie breath,” requires no clean-up, no grooming, no flea collars. But there are some things you must do to keep Sebastian speaking: Remember, this is a precision recording. Scratches or dust on the surface might make the arm stick. [...]
How This Record was Made
Sebastian was recorded live, at work in his own home. No stand-in dogs or sound effects were used. Approximately 30 minutes of original material was prepared on a master tape, then sent to the sound studio. There, careful editing was done to achieve natural built-in pauses, barks, and growls of varying intensities — from faraway noises to up-close snarls! Don’t be surprised that you don’t hear wall-to-wall barking on this recording. That would be unnatural… and Sebastian Speaks sounds like the real thing, naturally!
This is why I love DJ’ing at a freeform radio station where they let you play just about anything you want. Sebastian speaks and lives… forever!