Monthly Archives: May 2014

Dad, where are your tapes?

My old stereo went off to college last weekend.

Our son moved into his new dorm at UW-Green Bay, and Evan asked for the old stereo from the basement. Old to him, at least. To me, that’s the new stereo, the one put together in the early ’90s. My original stereo dated to the mid-’70s.

So he took the receiver and the CD player and the tape deck and the speakers — “those speakers WERE Bose,” he gleefully reminded me — and, yes, the turntable. Now if he could only find his Queen records. Still looking for those.

Evan needed something else from the basement. His new car, a 1988 Toyota Tercel, has a cassette deck. So he needed to dig through the cassette boxes, too. One shoe box looked like this.

cassettes 053114

I see these, and they immediately take me back to an odd time. As the ’80s turned to the ’90s, I’d pretty much stopped buying vinyl but hadn’t started buying CDs. But the cars we drove at that time had tape decks, so for a short time, I bought cassettes when I bought new music.

(All that Stevie Ray Vaughan and the John Mayall tape are relics from my Blues Period, a story for another time.)

I’d never bought prerecorded cassettes before that. During the ’80s, I made plenty of tapes. (I was a TDK man, as you can see.) Evan found those, too. Lots of them are in this case, which I’ve had forever. He passed on them.

cassette case 053114

Yep, I still have most of my tapes, even the mix tapes I recorded for our wedding more than 25 years ago. I thought that would be better than having a band. Wish I could have a do-over on that.

Most of what’s on this side of the case are just vinyl LPs put to tape so I could listen in the car. The mix tapes are on the other side of the box, all with allegedly clever titles like “It Shall Remain Nameless,” “Loose As A Goose” and “Take Two (And Don’t Call Me).” You get the idea.

Looking at what’s on those mix tapes can be a little scary almost 30 years on. Not sure what I was thinking when I put some of those together way back when.

The 12 cuts on one side of a tape called “No Witnesses” include songs from James Bond films, Bananarama, John Hiatt, INXS, the Monkees, the Beatles and Jay Ferguson. That’s right. “Thunder Island.”

The 12 cuts on one side of a tape called “Dreaming of Jamaica” include songs by Prince, the Temptations, the Talking Heads, Don Henley, more Bananarama, Dave Edmunds, Flash and the Pan, Kiss and Alice Cooper, and the “Ghostbusters” theme.

I’d better quit while I’m behind.

Looking over that shoe box full of prerecorded cassettes from the turn of that decade, there aren’t many that we’ve had on cassette, CD and vinyl. This is one, though the vinyl came last.

smithereens 11 lp

“Baby Be Good,” the Smithereens, from “11,” 1989. Apparently out of print, but available digitally.

I hear the Smithereens, and I’m taken right back to that time. Quite possibly my favorite band from that time.

Please visit our companion blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under May 2014, Sounds

Cookie, Glick and Larry, Esq.

When we were kids, there always were a few baseball or football cards that just never turned up. Not for you, not for your friends, seemingly not for anyone where you lived.

cookie rojas 1968

So it was in the spring of 1968. No one in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, had Cookie Rojas, No. 39 from the first series of that year’s Topps baseball card set.

Fast forward to the spring of 1972. We had moved to Wausau, Wisconsin, about 150 miles to the northwest. My new best friend Glick and I bonded over many things, music and baseball cards among them.

As we talked about hard-to-get cards one day, I mentioned Cookie Rojas from 1968. Glick gave me his best you-must-be-shitting-me look. Cookie Rojas? He reached for his cards and said something like “Here, how many do you want?”

Somehow, Cookie Rojas was much more widely distributed in packs sold in Wausau than in packs sold in Sheboygan. Go figure.

Which brings us back to record digging, as usually happens here.

Last month’s vacation provided my first opportunity to go digging in the South. As you’d expect, there are lots more soul records in Mississippi and Tennessee than in Wisconsin. Not quite the same as the random Cookie Rojas distribution model, but there are similarities.

While digging through the soul records at one stop, I looked up and had my own you-must-be-shitting-me moment. There, on the wall, was a copy of this record, priced at $25 or so.

esquiresgetupgetaway

The Esquires, from Milwaukee, on the Bunky Records label out of Milwaukee. As you’d imagine, this is one of the soul records we see in Wisconsin. They likely don’t see it as much in the South, even if it was distributed nationally by Scepter Records.

I’ve found two copies of this LP in Wisconsin, and I don’t think I paid more than $5 for them combined. Can’t imagine paying $25 for it. I mentioned that to my friend Larry, who runs the fine Funky 16 Corners and Iron Leg blogs.

“It’s the regional discount,” he sagely advised.

That said, this summer, I think I’m going to get on up …

“And Get Away,” the Esquires, from “Get On Up And Get Away,” 1967.

… seeking records (and perhaps a regional discount) not found in Wisconsin.

(“And Get Away” was the soundalike follow-up to “Get On Up,” the Esquires’ biggest hit. It also did well on the charts, peaking at No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reaching No. 9 on the black singles chart.)

(Three years ago, Larry told me his copy of this LP “was among the many fine albums sacrificed in the vinyl-to-CD purge in the 80s.” So, after I found a second copy, I sent one to Larry in New Jersey.)

Please visit our companion blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

1 Comment

Filed under May 2014, Sounds