Recent times have seen the old trusty cassette make a comeback & play into the hands and ears of eager rock lovers. With artists such as Slayer, Motorhead & Nirvana releasing their music on magnetic tape, it seems it could all be either just a nostalgic fad or a growing niche market for many ardent collectors.
And astonishingly, according to the National Audio Company, nearly 10 million Cassettes were produced in 2014, which accounted for 70% going to major labels Sony & Universal.
So cassettes still hold some demand & may be around just long enough until people get bored again, their rise in popularity could perhaps be a kick back to digital streaming the way vinyl was to mp3’s?
Now recent releases on the beloved format include Metallica’s 1982 Demo “No Life Til Leather. This has been faithfully reproduced complete with handwritten track listing on the inlay card and cassette case.
The C-60 tape has been made from Lars Ulrich’s own copy and will feature the Metallica drummer’s own handwriting. See Rolling Stone for full story.
Other recent releases have been Nirvana’s soundtrack from the documentary ‘Montage Of Heck’ and Motorhead’s newest offering ‘Bad Magic’
So people who once existed in Cassette culture can now delight if they still have their old tape players. Be it complete with a handy pencil just in case the tape becomes unspooled and needs winding on manually. Those old enough to know about this will know what I mean.
But what to make of it?
As with the resurgence of vinyl, those LP recordings can give a luxurious clarity that the digital age hasn’t yet offered. & The warm natural compression of sound coming out of speakers from magnetic tape is another way for audiophiles to soak in.
It’s still appealing to many. How about you?
Time To Get Reel to Reel.
Myself, I grew up on tape.
In fact the first album owned was The Bangles-(Don’t laugh, it’s chicks with guitars, what’s not to like?) on Cassette. All my favourite Sabbath Albums, (the oldest of my collection), first delivered their sonic doom on the handy Cassette. It’s a format I preferred & just stuck with. I don’t own many vinyl records even now & I never did. The scanty vinyl collection I have hangs on the office wall in frames.
It was My brother’s preference to collect vinyl but I never got the appeal of a big chunky sleeve that crushed at the corners, got easily tatty and needed dusting off. That’s before fannying around with an annoying scratched LP or jumping stylus. I preferred the compact size of cassettes and the ability to take a well rounded collection around with me.
I only switched over to CD’s when the format became popular. Not my choice, Cassettes & machines became fewer and the so called ‘indestructable’ Compact Disc took prime position on record store shelves. Today we’ve now gone past seeing that CD’S were never without problems. Very easily scratched and one iota of grease turns a ‘skipping’ Baroque classic into hardcore techno when it fails to play properly.
Nowadays I don’t own a Tape Player anymore so they can’t be played. But I’ll never part with ’em either. Ever. Right now these prized shells of 90 min’s of musical history are boxed up & under this desk I write from. The rest is in the attic above stowed away in shoe boxes. All recorded copies and mix tapes from years back. Call me a hoarder, but it’s a collection well worth keeping.
I hope to one day transfer these over to a digital files lest they degrade or worryingly worse, destroyed.
My generation has seen the golden age of Walkman’s and Personal Stereos. I loved the portability factor a cassette offered, and stuffed tapes into my sewn heavy metal patched stonewashed denim jacket pockets to busting point.
It’s a time when twin cassette decks were the business & when you lent your mates the ‘taped’ copy or ‘copied’ a copy. Not burnt, ripped, downloaded or streamed like today’s material. Ghetto Blasters once entertained a gathering long before the I pod shrunk everything down to a matchbox and made for private listening.
Back then, Blank Recordable Cassette tapes really fascinated me. In fact, still do. I always loved opening new ones and reading the scientific data I didn’t really understand.
The mechanism occupied me for hours. Especially the transparent ones that offered a clear window to the inside. I loved to watch the revolving tape transfer from one reel to another like it was an egg timer. I could work out how many minutes worth of music I could fit in a ‘filler’ track at the end. I hated it when a song was cut short.
Now with hindsight, I realise I was more of a nerd home taper. I scrutinised every detail reading the bias info on the tape so I could replicate in only the best quality. I dismissed chrome cassettes to being inferior as they always duplicated such a tinny sound on it’s next generation.
For me home taping was an art. I took pride in making the track listing in only my neatest handwriting. Perfectly Aligning the stickers onto the cassette shell. Spending hours editing and making sure I didn’t get that ‘CLUNK’ of static when pressing the stop button after recording. Then carefully inserting the tape into it’s cover out of harms way. I can see now why i wanted to be a Sound Engineer & spent 3 years trying to be one…
Cassette Surgery- There’s still life in you…
Sure, Cassettes had all manner of problems. I get that. Millions of us have pulled out a twisted string of dry squeaky tape out of the deck after it getting ‘chewed up’.
And that can really pissed you off when you paid 13.99 for an 8 track cassette from Woolworths on a Saturday afternoon. Remember those days?
Problems included the tape becoming to tight, straining the motors and then snapping to a stop. After which you pulled the cassette out of the tape deck to be horrified that your original cassette tape had been irrepairabely mangled. Bastard!
Sometimes surgery could be performed by use of scissors and selotape, in the delicate operation of rejoining the snapped, twisted tape together again without any great loss of audio. That is, if you were bothered about the preservation of your music to the length I was.
It could challenge to fix it, just like the way your dad tinkered with old cars, it was definitely a labour of love and never a chore… Well, for me, anyway.
Home taping is killing the music industry= Bollocks.
I’ve since expanded my CD collection because of the introduction to bands from old tapes that were shared and copied. Personally from me, I never meant to hurt any one in the music industry. All in all these companies have had hundreds if not thousands of £’s from me in the buying chain.
Now, do I feel guilty about recording from other tapes? No way. Why should I when considering this. They made the Twin Cassette decks with recording available, and supplied the blank Cassettes for you to do this.
Let’s take for example a Parent company like Sony, whose sub companies included Jet records & Epic. I bought original Cassettes from Artists on their roster, but at the same time used Blank tapes they put out onto the market for the willing customer.
By putting this technology into our hands made those companies very rich. But more importantly, It made my music collection a bit richer. It worked both ways, so thanks a million.
So, God Bless the good ‘Ole Cassette. May your recorded music remain ever committed to tape.