by Walter Price
I’m not one for following trends, underground movements or so called hipster trappings. Let me back up a bit. Let me say I am no longer inclined to commit to such things and haven’t been since the age of 20 or so. At around this age I figured I’d be spending way too much time trying to stay current and not living in the current.
This whole releasing music on cassettes has had me a little on the ho-hum side of things for a few years now. I remember sitting in my office at a radio network and receiving a cassette from a band and wondered what in the world I was to do with it. I had to go find an aging cassette deck in the studios suite to give it a go. Fast forward a number of years and the all the rage from indie artists is this cassette movement.
A movement I haven’t fallen for. Why? Am I not cool? Will people still come to my parties? I don’t know. I could care less. I could care even lesser.
Some of my favorite current artists release their sounds on cassette. The Blank Tapes, Warm Soda, Feral Conservatives to name a few. I just don’t see it as something I can get into. Vinyl, yes, I get it. There is romance in hearing the crackle of needle in grooves. Nuances that have weight now and will always have.
But as I was thinking about this whole cassette thing it got me to reminiscing about all the different formats I’ve had to adjust to over my thrilling life.
I am proud to say that I remember fondly ever one of firsts on new formats or in some cases new to me. My first vinyl album was the 1976 nugget from KISS Rock and Roll Over. To be fair, I also received Mickey Mouse Club album at the same time. Always about balance in my childhood.
Within a week of this album in my grips I knew every word and thought (seriously) that these fabulous demons of rock invented a sound that only I could enjoy. Then I realized they made TV movies and a little part of me died.
About the same time as my first vinyl experience had me thrilled I got myself a little thing called an 8-track copy of The Eagles Greatest Hits 1971-1975. Still one of the best releases ever and ever. Every track, well, a greatest hit. Desperado, One Of These Nights, Take It Easy and so on and wonderful on. But it was on 8 Track and it sucked. The tape wouldn’t change correctly and it ultimately became a hassle to enjoy The Eagles. Please dear hipster peoples, don’t try to reinvigorate the 8 Track. It died, let it rest. Forever.
Then its little spinoff the cassette came into my life at around 12. This was the time when my music exploration started to fully develop as well. I will never forget getting my hands on a fresh copy of AC/DC’s Flick of the Switch. Now, I’d obviously had the band in my before this but this was my first ownership of an actual part of the band and it drove me wild! I developed a lust for those hard rock sounds. RATT, Y&T, Twisted Sister, Hanoi Rocks, Molly Hatchet and so on soon followed.
Now, the cassette format was top of the line sound wise for a huge part of my life. I traveled the vast musical landscapes with these two spindled beasts for some 12-13 years. From The Smiths, George Jones, George Michael, Lou Reed, Beastie Boys and thousands in between. Even when CDs hit and clearly had a better sound I was hesitant to commit to reuping my collection with the pricier upgrade. But I eventually did. I dropped a load of cash on this Technics system with 5 disc changer and all the doodads one music geek could fall in love with. What was the first CD I bought for this monster of technology? Ministry’s A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste. I listened to that damn CD for three weeks straight until I had enough money to fill the other 4 slots in the changer. I still dig that album.
Cassettes still played a large part of my music hearing for a number of years after the CD gained prominence but when it faded, I was glad it was gone. Glad is a bit strong. I didn’t miss them is much more accurate.
I actually don’t recall what the first digital track I purchased was. My brain tells me NWA but I have a sneaking suspicion it doesn’t matter. When I broke down and picked up my first iPod I spent a hell of a lot of time putting my CDs into it. Because I make little sense.
The bottom line is this, cassettes were cool when they were all we really had for music on the go. And Mowtown, Decca and Sun Records artists never sounded good to me on cassette. Just didn’t. Stay retro cool, go vinyl.
SUPPORT GREAT ARTISTS & BUY CASSETTES