The Tape Traders. #mondayblogs

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Great songs on cassette required serious work if you wanted to hear them again.

Rewind, then Play.

Or if you owned a Walkman that was lacking in a Rewind button, you flipped the tape over, hit Fast-Forward, flipped the tape back and hope you managed to get far enough to get to the beginning of that great song.

I still have most of my cassette collection. Occasionally I might find something to add to it courtesy of a unique eBay listing or a rare find in a store where I might otherwise be shopping for vinyl.

My own interest in heavy music allowed me to be part of a massive global underground tape trading network. Certain sub-genres of heavy metal were just not available through the normal channels of record stores unless you traveled at least 2-3 hours by car. In those instances you saved up as much as you can in order to acquire what you could on those trips.

Friends of friends, or in some instances, relatives of friends who lived in major centres had greater access to the underground. They would often mail dubbed tapes of the music to those of us who were looking to access it. If a relative of a friend was back in the home land for a few days, they would bring their collections with them so the younger crowd could make copies of those much coveted recordings. I recall many days where an entire evening during a weekend would be spent in a “recording session” where tapes were “engineered” and “mastered” by multiple users who would gather around the stereo to listen while the tapes were being made.

We did not know any better that what was happening was illegal. To our credit even if many of us had those dubbed tapes we would still purchase the originals when and if we could find them. It was not just about having the music. It was also about being able to unfold the liner notes of the cassette. To read along with the lyrics, review the often massive thank-you lists, or get information on ordering from one of the great labels.

The metal and punk rock scenes owe much of the success to the underground tape traders. It was buoyed by the strong musical product these acts were putting out.

Regardless of your taste in music, if you still have a working player but perhaps your collection is long gone, you can still find many shops that sell cassettes for a very reasonable price. Rare gems and entire collection lots can be found on eBay. Do the research and you will be very surprised at what you will find.

Just pop in, and push play.

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