Cassette tapes?

Who cares.


I’ve been listening to a lot of tapes recently. My Dad handed me an enormous bag of the bloody things a few years ago and since then I’ve been slowly working my way through them (good thing he also gave me his tape deck!). A fair number of them had no identifying label on, so working out what they were was mostly a fun experience. Being able to type some lyrics into Google and get answers that way is a massive convenience, so +1 for the internet being useful. Others were simply labelled with the band name, so quite a few tapes just said Ozzy, a couple said Pink Floyd (both of the Pink Floyd tapes labelled like this turned out to be The Division Bell), and one was just Judas Priest which turned out to have quite the excellent selection of songs on it:

I’m a lefty and chose the worst kind of pen to use when writing on glossy tape paper, luckily I managed this with only a few minor smudges!

One tape had a promising selection of writing on it’s label, showing tracks by Carter USM, Siouxie and the Banshees, and Nine Inch Nails, but when I opened the case to pop the tape in Side A was labelled U2 and Side B was Phil Collins. So that tape went back in the bag.

A couple of tapes have brought back memories of being a child, hearing music that I’ve not listened to for at least fifteen years or more which I would have previously heard on long car journeys. One tape in particular has what I think is the first album by Eddi Reader on it. Both of my parents are fond of her music and as a result I became quite fond of it too. Hearing Patience of Angels, Scarecrow and Joke (I’m Laughing) again took me back in time with a smile on my face.

The tape deck that I use is a Technics RS BX-501, and it has seemingly has a personality of it’s own – it won’t play tapes ‘forwards’. Now, lucky for me this deck does reverse play, so this isn’t much of an issue it just means I need to remember to play the reel from right to left, rather than left to right. So basically I have to play tapes backwards, which often results in hearing Side B first as I usually can’t be arsed rewinding/fast-forwarding to get Side A to play first. This also means that I can’t use the ‘auto reverse’ function, and still have to get up and flip the tape when required. I run this deck through an Onkyo A9010 amp and a pair of Wharfedale Diamond 9.0 speakers, so the majority of them still sound fine to me.

In regards to buying new tapes, this is something that I’ve done only occasionally since I started buying music as a teenager. CDs and vinyl are my main choices when it comes to buying physical media, however in recent months a couple of bands that I like announced on their respective Facebook pages that they only had a few copies left of their most recent releases on tape, so I decided to get a copy of both:


Both Saor and My Silent Wake are excellent bands, go have a listen to them if you haven’t heard them before. Saor are Scottish Black Metal and My Silent Wake are a Doom band from the South West of England (my old band gigged with them a couple of times back in the day, they never seem to make it down to Plymouth though so I haven’t seen them live for ages). Another reason for the recent interest in buying tapes is being one of the lucky folk who received the promo tape with the new Darkthrone release on vinyl, I think it was a random bonus for those who pre-ordered the orange record.


I think I see buying tapes on a similar plane as buying 7” singles – usually I wouldn’t bother, but if it’s from a band that I quite like, or if it’s something that I don’t already own that I happen to stumble across in a charity shop or at a record fair for less than £2 then I’ll probably pick it up. The diversity of my physical music collection pleases me, and as I have the equipment to play them I may as well grab a few as I go along.



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