We here at Top Hat Records have recently started running around Cornwall on our own little mission and as the more of observant of you may have noticed we have a sudden influx (along with our usual vinyl selection) of a certain 80s and 90s staple (no, I don’t mean tubs of cheap hair gel and 4 channels of television) I speak of course of the awesomeness that is the humble tape cassette.. (insert groan here!)

 

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image3But....before you think we have gone even more downhill and you go running back to Discogs with your high brow attitudes intact I just wanted to tell you why, we have our reasons, hear me out...

I personally adore cassettes and hold nothing but the fondest of memories illegally recording the charts on cold Sunday nights in Brighton, using all the patience and accuracy my 14 year old self could muster at that time (which wasn’t much, still isn’t). My chubby finger hovering  just over the button, waiting for to the exact moment to hit stop before the annoying DJ would start talking again, thus I’d avoid ruining the ending of  Stop” by The Spice Girls, a single I loved at the time but would of been far too embarrassed to walk into OUR PRICE with my uber cool mates and actually buy! (Remember Our Price? let us know).

image5Perhaps you too remember using an HB Number 2 pencil to rewind back the loose tape onyour loaned copy of (What’s The Story?) Morning Glory while sitting in yet another boring maths class with your buddy Dave? (the only real use any pencil of mine ever got in my maths lessons was tape rewinding and stabbing Dave)

Or how about when the reel chewed up your only copy of Michael Jackson’s Dangerous, sending reams of tangled tape spool all over the inside of your Sony Walkman? Picking it back out without snapping the tape is a fine art and one I never particularly mastered. 

image6Headphones are a whole different story in themselves, those hideous  “But Oh, Look How Stylish” uncomfortable fashion statements with those ghastly fuzzy fur germ trapping covers that would last only as long as it didn’t rain and if it did (which is all it ever does in Britain) would rip apart instantly making them even more uncomfortable.

I could go on about tapes all day and if you want to talk about them, drop me a message, we would love to hear your stories about tapes (or the 90s or if your buddy Dave ever did die from lead poisoning).

However I unfortunately, like so many of my peers at the time during those care-free days of bright orange fluorescent Kappa tracksuits, Adidas Trainers, and dodgy curtain haircuts didn’t realise that we were slowly killing the music industry and helping to sow the seeds of what would become the (sometimes) very depressing landscape of music today.

image4Before home tape recording, if you wanted to own music you needed to go into a store and buy vinyl (or “borrow” from a buddy). When tapes came on the scene all that was needed to own the latest Suede album was a blank tape and a mate with money to go buy the original. After that it was simply a process of copying his copy and “Hey Presto” Animal Nitrate blaring out from the Vauxhall Nova’s20 watt speakers whilst racing driving down the high street on your mum's inflated insurance. When “Parklife” got boring your mates brother had just bought Blur’s Great Escape, repeat the cycle kid.

image7We could get into the obvious sound quality issues of Lo-Fi and why the rot had probably already set into the mainstream music industry by the late 90’s, but that’s not the point of this article. To some people (myself included) cassettes represent something more, they represent youth, low cost direct access to music for the pre-YouTube, Spotify, and Alexa generation of today.

Tapes will always hold a special place in my heart, and sit on the shelf next to my rare Pogs collection, VHS video player with videos (Friends Boxset!), and my carefree youth which I unfortunately waved goodbye to a long time ago!