I used to collect LPs. Lots of them. They threatened to overrun my bedroom, health my hallway, bronchitis my life. And they almost did, until I made the decision to go from LP to MP3 about seven years back, in 2001.

One of the very few titles I heavily regretted giving up, thinking I’d never find it on CD (to then later convert to MP3) was “RRR-500″, a 12″ disc with 250 amazing lock grooves on each side. To my knowledge, this record only had one pressing, and has been highly sought-after soon after its initial small release. Lock groove participants include Zoviet France, Bruce Gilbert (of Wire), 7000 Dying Rats, Karen Finley, The Doodooettes, Tom Recchion, His Name Is Alive, Deerhoof, Bastard Noise, Derek Bailey, Red Krayola, Free Kitten, AMK, Lee Ranaldo, MSBR, Thurston Moore and Cock ESP, to name just a tiny handful. Some might ask: What is a lock groove? Wikipedia sez:

“Nearly all records have a lock-groove: it is the silent loop at the end of the record that keeps the needle and tonearm from drifting into the label area. However, it is possible to record sound in this groove, and many artists have included looping audio in the locked groove. Probably the first track to utilize this technique was The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ (1967), featuring a multi-layered collage of randomized chatter in its run-off loop. The Who responded by putting a mock advertisement for their label, Track Records, in their ‘The Who Sell Out’ LP. Another good example of locked groove record is Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s debut album F#A#∞ (pronounced F-sharp, A-sharp, Infinity). At the end of the song “Bleak, Uncertain, Beautiful…” there is a string phrase recorded on the locked groove. The title’s “infinity” refers to this phrase. This concept has been extended to the production of records consisting entirely of circular “locked grooves” to provide collections of infinite loop sound samples of duration limited to one revolution of the disc. Notable examples of this are the releases from RRRecords of the 7″ RRR-100 (with 100 locked grooves) and the 12″ RRR-500 (with 500 locked grooves).”

I found this vinyl rip of “RRR-500″ on Soulseek, and it must be fan-generated, because there’s no commercial CD release of the thing. The recording here consists of someone trying their best to record every lock groove on the disc for a few seconds each, but sometimes, because of the difficulty one would inevitably have of advancing their stylus only one groove at a time every time, you can hear the needle skipping over a few tracks here and there. Oh-well. Listening to the whole thing in one half-hour sitting as intended by this ZIP file is probably the best way to digest it — but if you really wanted to, you could drop the MP3 files into an audio editing program to create your own approximated versions of each lock groove.

Various Artists – “RRR-500: 500 Lock Grooves By 500 Artists” LP (ZIP file)

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796 Responses to RRR-500

  1. joel says:

    Great post. I had no idea this even existed. This will make the workday a little better.

  2. Joe says:

    Oh, boy ! I have this on vinyl … what a mess is to search for a “track” ! 250 of them tracks on each side ! I think I’m going to download this …

  3. NXP says:

    What label is it, year off release, etc etc.

  4. joel says:

    NXP, it says right in the post, RRRecords, 1998.

  5. anonymous says:

    I have two copies of this record (because, well. . . I’m actually on it– Ron at RRR gave me two copies as “payment”)– if you have two turntables it’s fun to pick and choose tracks and play them together. Someone should make a website approximation of this– pick loops to play over each other.

    I sometimes wonder about the “participation” of the artists — like for example “Charlie Parker”, how did Ron get him to make a loop for the record?

    (Actually I HOPE I still have two copies– I might’ve sold one– silly me.)

  6. Joe says:

    & this one remembered me I have a 7″ by Stock, Hausen & Walkman called Buy Me, Sue Me : 42 lock-grooves of the word ME taken from 42 songs.

  7. Valentine Michael Smith says:

    This is amazing. Truly trance inducing.

  8. Phill says:

    Hey, I have this record! One of these days, I’ll have to try & rip 500 li’l mp3s off of it.

  9. soundhead says:

    this is great! thanks.

  10. francescoNemesi says:

    Nice, thanks!

    I bought a Senor Coconut 12″ 3 years ago, I think it was a remix of his cover version of Smooth Operator by Sade. The song actually ends with a perfectly seamless locked on groove which is a true work of art. Highly recommended.

  11. e*rock says:

    I have a collection of lock groove records and this one of my favorites!

  12. DJ Amber says:

    Hey, found this thread because I’m selling a copy of this record on eBay now–ends March 24, 2008. Check it if you’re looking to pick up a copy:


  13. Arvo says:

    I listen to this record at a radio station I guest at sometimes. I love it. I put out a 7″ locked groove comp myself just recently, nothing in the stature of RRR 500 but I’m really happy with all of the material. Thanks for sharing this! Off to the editing program I go!

  14. Cevn says:

    I used to have this LP as well. One of my fave lockgrooves was at the end of Clearlight’s Symphony LP, which had a repeating electronic sequence that was pretty cool.

  15. Ian B says:

    I don’t have this sadly, but I DO own the earlier RRR-100 – hours of fun for all the family, etc…

  16. ben i sabbah says:

    for my taste it isn’t really a record to listen, but even more to work with it…
    but ’til now, i never heard compositions including it, so we’ve done it! please check it out here:


    turntabula rasa – the rrr500 lock groove session
    live recorded at radio rasa studio 21/7/2010
    bfx & tribal zoa (turntables, loops & fx)