Remember blank tapes?

I listened to a lot of 1980s heavy metal this past week. This is not necessarily unusual for me, but finally seeing The Wrestler last Saturday night probably contributed to it, as the movie’s entire soundtrack is made up of the music that got me through high school and college.

I realized how different things used to be after listening to three straight albums — The Scorpions’ Love at First Sting, Accept’s Metal Heart and AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock — that were all 10 songs or fewer and all around 45 minutes or less.

TDK blank cassette tape

TDK blank cassette tape

I had to laugh because it brought back memories of when I used to buy all my albums on either vinyl or CD (obviously depending on the time period) and transfer them to blank cassette tapes so I could listen to them in the car and on my Walkman.

I remembered worrying about the length of albums. If they were longer than 45 minutes, it really fouled up the entire taping process, because you had to use the B side of a 90-minute tape for the spill-over, and you couldn’t put an entire other album on it. If they were much shorter than 45 minutes, you had way too much empty space at the end of the tape, and fast-forwarding to the end was a pain in the ass.

I remembered the still-unresolved argument over whether there was really a difference between normal cassette tapes and chrome cassette tapes, and if the latter were actually worth the extra 50 cents or so. And don’t even get me started on the really expensive metal cassette tapes.

Is it live ... or is it Memorex?

Is it live ... or is it Memorex?

I remembered arguing that although the Memorex ad with the guy sitting in the chair getting blown away by the sound was an all-time classic, when it came to quality, TDK kicked Memorex’s ass up and down the block, at least in my opinion. So did Maxell. And Sony wasn’t bad, either.

I thought back on times when I left on a road trip, only to realize that the carrying case that held 12 cassettes — about 20 times the size of my current iPod and containing around 1% of the music — was never refilled, meaning that I’d have to listen to the same tapes I had on the previous road trip.

And anyone ever have the miserable experience of trying to clean out all of what was left of a destroyed tape out of your tape deck?

Yeah, I’d say music distribution has come a long way in the past few years. Wouldn’t you?

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3 comments on “Remember blank tapes?

  1. Deb says:

    My cat used to love a destroyed cassette. He’d play with, and gnaw at, the tape.

    As children, my brother and I would record our voices onto cassettes. Amazing how yelling into speakers magically created a unique version of a “talk-show” where everything discussed was funny. Um, at least to us.

  2. Kent says:

    we have about 6 shoeboxes full of cassettes in the cabinet under the stereo, and the tape deck is still hooked up to the amp, unlike the turntable which is who knows where. but the only time we use the tape deck anymore is for the mix tapes john higgins and paul rodriguez used to do at christmas. mazel tov.

  3. KrnTriFecta says:

    Oldie~ 😛
    Just kidding!
    My parents used to use those things..
    My grandparents still have them and still use them efficiently..
    I don’t know how they do it.. My iPod has 80 gigs and can store I don’t know.. few months worth of songs?
    I wish I had memories like you.. Maybe iPod will be my memory some day in the distant future.
    Imagine. 100 Terabyte MP3 player and that would be nothing.

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