I have a huge box of cassettes I recorded off NYC radio in the 1980s. Hands down some of the most cherished are the Latin Rascals mixes. They took hundreds of tracks and mixed them in such an amazing musical and technical way. I used to play basketball and swim to this stuff everyday after high school. Even though it may not be apparent my own music is heavily influenced by these tracks. Hearing this is just a reminder I have to somehow convert my cassettes to digital ASAP. This stuff is the soundtrack of classic NY.
“As far as trends in DJ Culture go, New York always was light years ahead of anyone else on the planet. This mix changed everything – Latin Rascals – 1984 – I remember hearing it and that was it for me, it’s never been topped actually.” – Frankie Bones
“Albert Cabrera and Tony Moran (collectively known as the Latin Rascals) got their start as movers and shakers on the budding early’80s New York City club scene, hosting an influential continuous-mix show on local danceradio. The duo went on to become the most in-demand editing and remixing teams in the record business. The Latin Rascals also masterminded the Latin freestyle dance scene, including work for TKA , Sa-Fire and The Cover Girls…among others. The Latin Rascals were also artists for two albums released on Polydor records.” – rascaltunes.com
A $50 cassette doormat. If it were a Maxell XLII 90 I may have considered it.
“If you have fond memories of avoiding The Electric Slide or making mix tapes of your favorite songs from the radio, you’re probably grinning like a fool at this Cassette Doormat. Designed to look like a K7 tape, this rubber doormat is ready to receive your dirty feet. Unlike a cassette tape, it will never require winding with a pencil and it will never wear down to the point of not working anymore. You can even wash it off with the hose when you don’t like the stuff that’s on it. Can’t say that about a real cassette!” – thinkgeek
Honestly I did not think you could recently have purchased a new car in the USA with a stock cassette deck. Apparently in 2010 the Lexus SC430 still had that option. The NYTimes has a story titled For Car Cassette Decks, Play Time Is Over in it today about the end of the wait to rewind or fast forward era in cars. Of course you can still get after market cassette decks.
“That nostalgic affection for tape holds no sway with automakers, though. For the 2011 model year, no manufacturer selling cars in the United States offers a tape player either as standard equipment or as an option on a new vehicle. The most recent choice for a factory cassette deck was the 2010 Lexus SC 430.” – NYTimes.com
Something was really lost when the mixtape died. You see once upon a time a boy could make a mixtape for a girl. I personally took part in that exact ritual. The music on the tape represented how cool I was and the lyrics on each song were specific planned out messages. I took pride in knowing I had to coolest music. I walked the streets of NYC going from record store to record to be sure of just that fact. It’s a shame every tune in now just one click away. I wonder what teenage boys are giving girls these days.
““Mixtape”, a wonderful short film by Luke Snellin brings back the memories for those of us who used to spend hours making music mixes on cassette tape.” – Scott Beale
Good old AM/FM. The last time I listened to regular radio outside of my car was in the 80s. I used to listen to stations for hours just to catch and record a song I liked onto cassette. Lucky for me that habit created a giant box of tapes recorded from the airwaves which I will make digital someday. These days most radio is harsh, loud, repetitive and loaded with more than 60% commercials. Since I moved back to New York from Berlin I bought a car and so I’ve been listening and seeking through stations.
The craziest thing happened. I find myself stopping on 106.7 Lite.fm more than any other music station. Lite.fm is one of those you know adult contemporary stations playing elevator, oldies and love songs (Joe Cocker). You still can hear a lot of Korg M1 sounds on this station! I got to thinking what’s keeping me at this part of the dial. I think it’s the fact that these songs are full of melodies and clear vocals/lyrics I can understand. If I don’t know a song I like to follow along and hear the message. I’ve noticed a lot of songs I once thought were really horrible cheese are actually pretty good. I’m not leading this blog post to some profound point I just wanted to share. I know your going to say I’m getting old. That maybe but I still love me some kill evil music. They never really played any of that dark stuff on the radio anyway. Sometimes I check out 89.1 WFDU (Fairleigh Dickinson University) radio but it’s hit or miss depending on the DJ. When it comes to AM NPR is where it’s at.
My radio listening days are almost over as I finally ordered a new radio with an iPhone hook up. Pandora, Last.fm, Slacker, Simplify Media, podcasts, audiobooks here I come!
Take a look at that cassette above called “Unics”. I made that sometime in the late 80’s and it has some of the first songs I ever recorded on it. I should have probably spelled it “eunuchs” right? Maybe since I was a geek then too possibly “Unix” was the correct spelling. I’d like to say I was being smart and wanted my own unique band name and way of spelling but you all know I’d be lying to you. From what I remember the music was sequenced on a Yamaha QX7 and the sounds were from a DX7, Electrocomp-101 and some Casio home keyboard. I had a Tascam 4-track and Shure SM58. Do you like the cover I printed on a dot-matrix printer?
So where’s the hilarious audio samples of my old songs? Well if I had a working cassette deck you would be listening and laughing right now. I did save two old decks but both are eating tapes so I don’t dare but the above mentioned gem in them. I could order a head cleaning kit or even possibly find a repair shop to look at a deck. However, there’s a new kind of Cassette deck that just recently became available: USB Cassette Decks.
The Ion Tape2PC and Alesis TapeLink USB are both dual cassette decks with built-in audio interfaces. Take a close look at these two units. They must come from the same Chinese manufacturer right? The Tape2PC is silver and comes with “EZ Tape Converter for free with Gracenote® MusicID technology”and has a street price of $149. The black Alesis comes with BIAS SoundSoap (which I have used to good effect in the past) and has a street price of $199.
So what do you think? Should I clean and repair my old Sony Dual Deck or just grab one of these new USB guys? The advantage of the built-in USB is I can bring it around with me to different rooms without an extra interface and cabling. I do wonder though if these new decks will sound as good as my old Sony.
Here an interesting new application for Mac OS-X called TapeDeck. It’s an audio recorder that looks like an old Radio Shack cassette deck. You can label your recordings cassettes with notes that look handwritten.
Your archived recordings are displayed in virtual cassette cases. All of this is pretty ridiculous except one feature could be very useful: Upload to YouTube.
Upload to YouTube sends your audio to YouTube and the video diplays your Cassette, the labeling your put on it and a little animation so you know it’s playing: