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?