The tale of the tapes

It all started the other day with the story headlined “Cassette tapes make a comeback” in the Washington Post.

Cassettes again, eh? Not for me, but whatever trips your trigger.

Then I shared the link on Facebook. Dane cut right to the chase.

“Damn hipsters.”

I then wondered whether this meant the Maxell guy would have to climb back into the chair to get blasted all over again.

Larry piled on.

“Now he’s sitting in one of those mobility scooters.”

That’s cold, man. That wouldn’t happen to the Maxell guy. He’s too cool for that. I’m thinking we’ve seen that cat around.

Maybe that’s him in the Cialis ads, sitting in the tub next to his lady.

Truth be told, I loved that iconic Maxell image. But I bought only TDK tapes.

In the basement is a carrying case full of almost six dozen cassette tapes I recorded off vinyl during the ’80s. Here’s a tune from an album that always comes to mind when I think of that time and those tapes.

“Drivin’ With Your Eyes Closed,” Don Henley, from “Building The Perfect Beast,” 1984.

I don’t think I’ve played any of those tapes since the ’80s, nor do I expect to anytime soon. I no longer have a cassette deck.

So I won’t be able to listen to a couple of King Biscuit Flower Hour shows I recorded off the radio: National Lampoon Radio Hour bits that aired Nov. 30, 1980, or a Rockpile live show that aired Jan. 11, 1981. (Many old King Biscuit Flower Hour concerts can be streamed at Wolfgang’s Vault.)

Nor will I be able to listen to the radio simulcast of the first Farm Aid Live from Sept. 22, 1985. (But I vividly remember Sammy Hagar, then just having joined Van Halen, dropping some F-bombs on live TV. That did not seem cool, but this cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” was all right!)

I also wonder what’s on this tape. I can’t remember.

My friend Hose sent it to me. Side A is titled “Mike Goes To The Game On Sunday.” Side B is titled “Letter Perfect.”

If you’ve made it this far, a video bonus: That classic Maxell tape ad.



Filed under May 2011, Sounds

8 responses to “The tale of the tapes

  1. Scott Thomson

    I’m kind of in the same situation, except in my case it’s reel-to-reel tapes: two large plastic tubs of them, down in the beer room. Many of them were made by my friends Skip and Ron, and include a lot of 1960s and early ’70s album rock classics. But I recorded some myself, including KBFH shows (the Dead’s version of “Stella Blue” that I prefer is off one of those) and the Lampoon Radio Hour (later Half-Hour — the “stereo test” bit still brings fond memories, as does “What You Don’t Know Can Kill You”) off Radio Free Madison. Unlike Evandad, I still have an R-to-R deck (plus a cassette unit, too) — and the Ion digitizing turntable I bought a couple years back has an auxiliary jack, so you can run other analog sources through it. My problem is that while my Akai R-to-R plays, it develops wow toward the ends of those long tapes. It almost certainly needs new belts, and I’ve found a source for them, but I can’t remove the pieces off the front that need to come off so you can get to the innards. The company used a metric Allen set screw 35-plus years ago of a size that you can’t find a wrench for anymore. Frustrating — so the Renaissance, Blodwyn Pig, Moondog, etc., sit there, waiting to be digitized — not to mention that great live Nils Lofgren show. Sigh …

  2. Mikelj3

    Once HX-Pro & Dolby C came around (1985 or so) cassettes had reached state of the art if using Chrome or metal tape (Who used metal?) I have a Yamaha 1 well Deck w/3 motors, HX-Pro & Dolby C. Ya can’t beat it. Fortunately my car has a factory CD & Cassette so I break ’em out ever once in a while. I was recording cassettes ’til I got my first PC with a burner in it, around 2001 or so. I have about 200 commercially recorded and another 300 or so home recorded of mixes and albums. I you keep ’em away from the air or very humid places they can last a lifetime. I may have the metric wrench Scott is looking for as I owned an Akai and did those replacements but switched to a Pioneer RT-707 which was a hell of a reel to reel machine. No belts & 3 motors. That was sold in the 80’s along with some 200+reel to reel recorded tapes. Honestly, I set my CD recorder to do the highest quality recording (it takes away 2 or 3 minutes of record time) but I like being able to access what I want to hear instantaneously, so I am with the new media.

  3. J.A. Bartlett

    I still have two working cassette decks, neither of which is hooked up to anything at the moment. I still use the cassette deck in the car (2001 model) now and then even though I have a satellite radio and there’s a CD changer in the trunk. I know that the next car I buy isn’t going to have a tape deck, and I’ll feel the loss. During a period of unemployment in the 90s I amused myself by constructing a series of car tapes extensive enough for a drive to Hawaii, and I still enjoy ’em now and then.

  4. I still have a cassette player in my 92 Ranger daily driver, one in a “boom box” and another that isn’t hooked up to my stereo. I have a bunch of cassettes and my dad recently gave me about 50 of his old ones. I need to figure out how to record them to MP3.

    • Michael Plath

      There are some sound cards that will convert analog audio to digital also a program called Audacity which is free. (Google-It will be the first item on the search). Good Luck!

      • I tried it once with my old computer and it came out too loud and distorted. I couldn’t get the levels low enough. I should try it again with my new computer.

  5. jesselun

    Mine is not only hooked up, but (sometimes) active….still got my 800+ tapes

  6. legman666

    “Van Halen… cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll””

    AWESOME. 😀

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