Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Tape Expectations...first International Cassette Day this weekend!

If there's one format that I thought we'd never see again it was the cassette tape. Being of a certain age I can remember when Sony Walkmans were first launched, giving you the chance to take your music with you wherever you went. Previously of course the only way to do this was to strap a reel to reel tape player to your chest...something that one of the artists - Tom Peel (see the video above) - performing at Birmingham's contribution to the first International Cassette Day actually does. Genius.

The cassette tape also gave you the chance to compile your own mixes of music, either using your vinyl, another tape (if you had a swanky double tape deck) or the radio as your source. How sweetly primitive all that now seems. Fearing that everyone would become a bootlegger and they'd lose sales the record labels even ran a campaign against home taping...HOME TAPING IS KILLING MUSIC...if only they know what the future held eh? Ha!

The trouble with tapes though was that it was frustratingly tricky (and time consuming) to fast forward or rewind to a particular track that you wanted to listen to. Also they had a tendency to get 'chewed up', a horrifying process which saw your precious tape unravel inside your player. Oh the horror...the horror. I think I lost a Thompson Twins album that way once...sniff. Nightmare. Sometimes you could rescue it and wind it back on the spool with your finger, at other times it was too far gone and a decent burial in the bin was the only option. Sad times.

Of course now the cassette tape has become all hip and retro trendy in much the same way that vinyl has, hence the very first International Cassette Day! Birmingham's event is being held at Swordfish Records in their new-ish home (66 Dalton Street, B4 7LX) from 4pm until around 5.30pm on Saturday 7th September. There'll be a number of artists playing special gigs too including Oliver Rudge, Midnight Bonfires, Drakelow, Cannon Street and the previously heralded Tom Peel. It's all free as well so you'll have some dosh left to buy some tapes. C30, C60, C90 go! Oh, if you have no idea what that's a reference to cop a load of this classic from the archives (the numbers refer to the minutes of recording the different types of tape could hold by the way)...

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