Our man gets all nostalgic about a format that some us could’ve sworn had died out – then tries to flog you his own (rather good) latest release, one strictly being released on cassette only of course.
Some of us still play cassette tapes. If this practice is to continue once our tape decks die is another matter.
The announcement of “Cassette day” on September 7th will have some people scoffing at such nostalgic nonsense or allowing some of us a chance to pay some respect to a format that some of us owe a large amount of gratitude to.
Thirty years ago, before the internet and just after some of us realised that we didn’t need to attend a three year course at a music school to make music (and get ourselves mentioned in one of the three national music papers that we believed were worthy of any mention) some of us turned to this format in order to release albums. Albums that were either recorded on one of those flat ten pound cassette recorders in someone’s bedroom or in a posh expensive studio.
This was very similar to what the world is currently doing with CD-rs, except not really as many people did it back then and the quality of today’s recordings are a million times higher.
We made albums with photocopied sleeves, to order, and some of us could boast of distribution in three figures with no additional copies propping up the underside of the bed..
Music weekly “Sounds” used to have a column called “Cassette pets” where we sent our albums in with the simple message that it was available to anyone who could send us a blank tape or a quid (pound notes, remember …easier to slide into an envelope) plus a self addressed envelope. The postman arrived, we opened each letter and made copies of our albums to whoever was interested and posted them back.
We also got our names in the music papers ! Charts were compiled and some of us got our product in these charts even though we had no idea what the criteria was in order to appear in a chart inches away from the best selling “real” top 40 tunes of the day.
Some of us felt rather proud of this achievement.
Some artists went on to turn their cassette recordings into Vinyl formats (“Danny and the Dressmakers”) and some artists went on to becoming household names (well in my house anyway).
One or two of these artists (and i’ll drop the band name “What is Oil?”) managed to get their cassette displayed last year at the “one day all adults will die” exhibition at London’s Haywood gallery. This was an exhibition of “punk graphics” during the late ’70s early ’80s which to some of us was quite a bizarre experience seeing this stuff that we casually threw away to make room for our new CD collection in the mid ’90s.
If the album we received was shit we just put little bits of paper inside the tabs and recorded over the top of it.
Usually a John Peel show.
Times have moved on though. The computer. The Internet. The CD-r. The mp3 or wav (I don’t for the life of me want to start trying to understand what all that iTunes stuff is about, I’ll leave that for someone else to explain) and for one day we’ll remind ourselves about Cassettes.
Of course, a lot of us will jump onto this band wagon, using a digital format to compile our albums on, and email the tunes to get copied etc.
This weekend we’ll be holding aloft our pieces of work offering an insight of our creative capabilities again and trying to sell these ltd edition artefacts to those who still know what an eject button is.
So yeah…I’m releasing a Hideous Wheel Invention album.
It’s a fiver.
I’ve already sold some because there’s people out there that still collect and play these things are are rather excited about Cassette store day.
Forty minutes for you to play, rewind or fast forward to your hearts content.
Of course, the option still exists to fill those holes with bits of paper but remember that when pressing the record button you have to press down the play button at the same time …….multitasking – remember that ?
Here’s a tune that’ll be on my tape:
You know where to find me*
*(Especially if you were once in a band called “What Is Oil ?” as we need to reform that splinter group “The Ostend Ticket Inspectors”)
Thank you xx
If you’ve got a spare fiver hanging about we can guarantee you won’t be disappointed if you spend it on the latest Hideous Wheel Invention album. Hit him up on twitter where he hangs as @HIDEOUSWHEELINV
All words (bar that last sentence) by Keith Goldhangar. More of his writing on Louder Than War can be found in his author’s archive.