Once upon a time, I was a tape fiend... not a vinyl fiend, but a tape fiend. Yes, I am one of the Walkman generation. I did not bother to buy large black disks with expansive cover art and lyrics in the sleeve. That was for sissies. I bought cassette tapes... where liner notes saying who exactly played on the tape were often missing, much less detailed cover art or song lyrics. I did this for about 5 years... until I discovered that they stretch and wear, and wow and flutter. After March 1989, I was and remain a CD man.
Yet, those tape years were important years for me. Those were my high school years... when my musical tastes developed and came into their own. There were experiments, not always successful, in seeing what combinations of sounds my ears could take. Those tapes were also a way to try to fit in with other people and belong... because we liked the same bands, man.
A lot of those tapes eventually got purchased, sometimes more than once, as reissues on compact disc. Most of the Yes catalog. The Genesis catalog. The Led Zepplin studio recordings (I still don't own a copy of The Song Remains The Same.) Much of the Sting catalog. The Pink Floyd albums from the 70's. These are old friends that I immediately felt demanded the clarity of CD... not to mention the extensive liner notes.
Some tapes didn't make the transition, and I've been thinking about them lately. Some of the 80's Steve Winwood catalog, plus the odd Traffic album. That copy of 'The Way It Is' by Bruce Hornsby and the Range that I think actually belonged to my sister. Odd little bands of the moment like Bourgeois Tagg and Level 42 (their first, eponymous album... that I'm sure only 5 people still have.) Bootlegs, like that copy of "Led Zepplin, Tour Over Europe '80" -- made just months before John Bonham died -- and that taped radio concert of Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe. There is 'Speak English Or Die' by the Stormtroopers Of Death. Three Black Sabbath albums (the early Ozzy stuff), two Lynyrd Skynyrd albums, and the first two Danzig albums. There is a solo album by Daryl Hall, and a 'cassingle' by a band called 'The Scream', whose lead singer (John Corabi) went on to replace Vince Neil for a while in Motley Crue. There is that copy of 'Slaves and Masters' by Deep Purple that I won as a door prize when I went to see Steppenwolf (featuring John Kay) in a bar. There is the London Symphony Orchestra playing Genesis tunes with Ian Anderson and Steve Hackett. There is that tape I made with 'Pretty Hate Machine' by NiN on one size, and the soundtrack to Twin Peaks on the other.
Finally, there are a lot of mix tapes made by friends... tapes where I first heard Ministry, Foetus, Bauhaus, Voivod, Helmet, the Lemonheads... as well as tapes that keep all sorts of 80's bands alive.
Technology to listen to this haphazard collection has been lacking. The tape decks on my venerable Fisher PH463 boombox have seen better days, and as I discovered this week, no longer function (new drive belts are required.) The Hitachi D-W400 tape deck in the stereo Mrs. Geek and I inherited from her parents' house is older than my boombox, and probably wasn't quite that good to begin with. Any Walkmans I still own are sitting in a drawer at my parents' house in the Land Of My Birth. So, tapes either can't be played or sound pretty lousy.
I finally decided to do something about this state of affairs this week. I gave up my e-Bay virginity (yes... I somehow never bought anything on e-Bay before this week) and got a tape deck. A rather nice single bay, 3 head, 3 motor Onkyo tape deck from the late 80's... which is, I discover, when they still made great tape decks. All this, for about $70.
It should arrive next week. Then we shall see... if all this analog nostalgia is what its cracked up to be.
on 2005-07-01 at 10:15 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond