Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Cassettes to make a comeback?

There was a report on TV today saying that cassette tapes are coming back into fashion. Apparently sales have doubled in the last year. I would imagine that this is from a very low base, but if true it would be quite a surprise. The golden age of the cassette was in the pre CD age when it was a great way of recording from radio shows. I spent many an hour recording records played by the likes of Stuart Colman on Radio London. He, and others such as Charlie Gillett, gave me the chance to hear - and record - many soul and blues records that would have been unavailable otherwise. Occasionally I bought pre-recorded cassettes, but I have always preferred vinyl records so cassettes were very much for the chance recording from the radio. Of the pre-recorded cassettes that I own the only one that intrigues me is one by Barbara George which she was selling at a gig in New Orleans in the early nineties and which appears to be pretty obscure. Photos show both sides of the cassette. Incidentally, when I went on a tour of the Malaco recording studio in Jackson, Ms, a few years ago they were still producing cassettes, mostly for the gospel market.
Now that car boot sales have resumed and charity shops have reopened I have started scouring them for records once again. I picked up a collection of mostly West African LPs and singles from the sixties and seventies at the weekend featuring Highlife music. I'm not an expert on this genre but there are some interesting records there and it seems that there is considerable demand, if interest in the ones I've put on eBay is anything to go by. Acts such as Ebo Taylor, the Powerful Believers, EK's Professional Band and Bob Pinodo are unfamiliar to me but they are clearly well known in the Ghanaian and Nigerian community. I've included a few photos, including one of a single of a 45 on the UK Afriktone label which I haven't heard of before. Other finds since the end of lockdown include a bunch of US demos by various other people who I haven't heard of, including Wadsworth Mansion, the City Boys, Abraham's Children and Carl Graves. These are about as obscure as you can get, with Shazam failing to recognise many of them, but interesting nonetheless. In the absence of live gigs and festivals these vinyl delights are a pretty good substitute. But I can't wait to get back into a sweaty club with proper live music once again.


At 9:24 pm , Blogger Nick said...

Garth Cartwright commented on Facebook: What we tend to call "hipsters" have been embracing cassettes for a few years now. As for West African records, they are indeed now collectable and the likes of Ebo Taylor are great artists. I'm surprised someone like you who mentions Charlie Gillett never listened to the music he played from non-Anglo nations - I started buying African records in the mid-80s when the likes of King Sunny Ade and Fela Kuti got international releases. Never stopped - far more interesting music coming out of Africa over the past few decades than contemporary US/UK releases (ditto Balkans, Asia, Latin America etc).

At 12:29 am , Blogger Tony Burke said...

Nice find on the African stuff Nick. I have been getting cassettes of African stuff inc Zulu Jive on Hannibal and some of the Wayhi cassettes I have been getting in have African stuff. A good current CD is Edo Funk Vol 1. On the question of cassettes making a comeback - not really, it may be a passing fad. There are loads of good collectable things though inc stuff I got directly from artists inc Big Jack Johnson, Paul Orta, Larry Garner, Sonny Rogers, as well as lots of blues stuff I junked in charity shops going at 50p each when they were still selling them. Got a good batch of Joe Bussard country classics during its lockdown from a friend in USA, John R soul shows,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home