Monday 19 January 2015

Goodbye Gary Glitter, hello Generation X

Apparently you can still buy cassette tapes. Who knew? I thought they'd gone the same way as typewriter ribbons and telex machines. I really can't remember when I last saw the remnants of a jettisoned C90 fluttering in the wind, stuck in a hedge by the side of the A1.

I've still got a box of tapes which, in all honesty,  will probably never get played again. Many of them have still got Dymo labels stuck on the front heralding things like The Saints (John Peel Session) and Rory Gallagher In Concert. The Saints would have been from the same night Peel played Television's Marquee Moon for the first time and Rory Gallagher would almost certainly have been coming from the Paris Theatre 'in London's West End',

Apart from a few made by BASF and Philips the majority of cassettes sitting in my garage will be TDK. I don't even have to look: between 1972 and 1992 I must have pumped enough money into the TDK corporation to buy a small yacht. And then some.

The D90 was my tape of choice. It was cheap and cheerful. Just look at the picture above. It's a thing of beauty isn't it? And It didn't snap if your deck (we always referred to them as decks) rewound tapes a tad  too fast and you could record over stuff again and again. So when  punk came along I was a bit like the BBC: I had to wipe existing stock purely because of room. Goodbye Garry Glitter, hello Generation X.

I got the brushes out yesterday and tried to recreate a bit of my past. I hope you don't mind, but I substituted the TDK moniker for my own. And it's Richard, before you ask.


  1. I was a TDK devotee too.
    In my early teenage years - 1974 - 1977 I just bought the cheapest I could! Boots own brand and I went for C120 as I thought that value for money - but they stretched too easily and often got chewed up. C90s were much better and you could normally just fit a vinyl lp on one side. Thus with a C90 and two lps borrowed off your mate you were good to bootleg them... "Home taping is killing music" - remember that!
    BASF made an entrance at some point when I started to go up market but in the end TDK became the mainstay - up to the 90s where I'd still record CDs onto them for use in the car on the commute. Somewhere early 2000s my first car with a CD autochanger in it was a revolution!
    Also TDK C60s worked best in my good old Fostex X-15 the budget of all budget 4 track portastudios. I still have a few hanging around - mostly with masters of the stuff I recorded on the Fostex and also some very old gigs from the 80s that I should really not be so proud of!

  2. Can't get any better than Rory at the Paris Theatre!

  3. Aww! TDK tapes, sigh... Whole chapters of my life could be told in TDKs. (Having given up on Soundhog (?) cassettes which I'd only bought because I liked the logo)

    I still have a few Peel tapes too. It was always hard to write the track list on the inlays, such tiny lettering needed to fit in band names as well as titles.

    Your little canvases are brilliant. A perfect homage.

  4. I quite often see brand new ones in charity shops. Must start buying them because I'm dreaming of the day I find a decent boombox again. Yes, TDK and Memorex were my favourites. Making a compilation TAPE was an art that trumps a CDR any day of the year.

  5. Just thought - it might have been Maxell. Whatever. BTW, your post made me go out and actually buy a beatbox with a tape player today. Now I'm fifty quid down but you can't take it with you. Mrs. Bear is staring at me with a dangerous glint in her eyes and reminding me that ESA doesn't go far! Ooops.

    1. On that subject - if anyone does have any spare blank tapes they no longer need, I'd be up to buying them at the right price. Cheap, obviously!

    2. Great news! You won't regret it (and, yes, there are no pockets in shrouds). Go to Amazon, you'll see plenty of TDK action over there. Though sadly not the 'classic' design from the 70s.

  6. F - If you had a DIN lead then the world was your oyster. You just needed mates with record collections they didn't mind sharing. That and access to a quality radiogram on weekday nights between 10 and 12.

    MC - If you go through my back issues you'll find plenty of references to Ballyshannon's finest.

    C - It's why I haven't thrown them all away. Although I had a cull the last but one time we moved, I still kept 'the crown jewels'.

    SB - What goes around comes around. I long for the day when our roadsides and hedges are strewn with miles of ferric tape.

  7. Oh yes, still got hundreds of those, as well as other TDK models and a smattering from That's, Memorex, Maxell and more. So much stuff taped off the radio that I want to digitise as it has never been officially released in a purchasable form.

    One of these aeons...

  8. Dad was the manager of a hi-fi shop in the 1960s and 1970s, so I got my own cassette player pretty early on, in 1967 I think. In later years I became, much like everyone else who reads this blog I suspect, an inveterate compilation maker, I also used to come home with piles of bootleg tapes from Camden Market every Sunday and when I was working in record shops, I was handed piles of cassettes on a daily basis. Consequently, when I moved house in the early 2000s, I had thousands of the things. I had a major cull, but still have hundreds, mainly TDK, the AD90 being my own particular favourite.