Every new blog needs a first post. They are never terribly exciting but here is mine. I’m Ben, 34 and from the UK. I won’t talk about me anymore than that though as I want to focus on the project I’m starting. Cassette55 is the new space I’m creating to share my love for the music of my youth via the medium of cassette/tape.
A few days ago I stumbled on the tiny selection of cassettes (5 in total) that I didn’t have the heart to throw away with the rest of them when I cleared my room and headed to University back in 2002. OK Computer by Radiohead, A Different Class by Pulp, Automatic for the People by R.EM, Bad by Michael Jackson and Urban Hymns by The Verve – 5 fantastic albums, released between 1987 and 1995 that I loved too much to ditch, but never played again. CD’s had well and truly kicked cassettes into touch at this point and I also had an early edition iPod. I thought, as I imagine so many people did when they threw away their vinyl records, that tapes had given all that they could – I was wrong!
Finding them and digging out an old (and particularly shoddy) Aiwa tape deck didn’t make for a great listening experience, but it filled me with nostalgia and joy. Remembering how it felt to have to listen to an entire album before being able to skip a track or just move onto another title/artist with the swipe of a finger highlighted how much more engaged I was with music back then. I still listen to a lot of music now, but rarely connect with anything in the way I did 16 years ago. That isn’t an age thing, it’s about taking time to listen, or create. Mix Tapes were one of my greatest pleasures as a teenager. Making and receiving them in kind from girlfriends or pals was as exciting as anything I can remember from that era in my life. Well… almost!
Now – with very little in the calendar for the weekend just gone, I decided to conduct some cassette research. Here are my findings:
- You can buy old cassettes at charity shops and thrift stores for as little as 10p.
- There are a lot of really shit tapes to sift through in these shops.
- There are also some absolute gems (Radiohead’s The Bends purchased for 25p in RSPCA shop).
- Very few people see any value in cassettes whatsoever.
- Some charity shops don’t allow cassettes as donations anymore and will recycle them if they receive unknowingly.
- eBay has a bustling (an I imagine fast growing) market for folk who recognise the value in a 1st edition Green Day, Dookie tape.
- Some people are already taking advantage of this and selling tapes for up to £90 (N.W.A’s Straight Outta Compton).
- The Ghetto Blaster market has already seen prices escalate into orbit. They are hard to come by.
I am too young to have appreciated vinyl in its pomp. Nowadays, the value of a good record seems to be understood by many and current/new artists are releasing material in this format. It is a trend that I tried to get on board with, but ultimately one that I didn’t have an affinity with. Tapes on the other hand – I spent so much of my youth flicking through cassette inlet sleeves to read the words of songs that were undecipherable and writing on the blank stickers of tapes I had amalgamated for a friend to enjoy. If there is to be a resurgence in the popularity of the cassette, I want to be at the forefront of it. It is likely that I’ve missed the starter pistol, but I’m excited at the prospect of listening to old music that I love and being introduced to new artists who are able to produce small runs of cassettes for fans without being signed.
My plan is to delve deeper into cassette culture before shaping this blog a little more. Hopefully you’ll follow my progress and perhaps add your own thoughts and comments.