From Prince to Genesis, Sun writers reveal memories of the first cassette they bought as they make an unlikely comeback
FAST forwarding to your favourite track being guesswork and painstakingly untangling the tape with a pencil to save your precious music felt like a distant memory for many.
But the cassette is back.
Nearly 160,000 were sold last year, the highest amount for 20 years.
Here our writers press rewind, revealing the first cassette tape they bought and what memories it evokes . . .
TELL anyone the first cassette you ever bought and three things will become obvious: Your age (within three years), musical credibility (cheese or cool) and aural sensibilities (pop, rock, classical, blues).
In my case: Geriatric millennial, pure cheddar and manufactured boyband.
Yep, aged eight, New Kids On The Block’s Step By Step was my foray into the world of musical freedom.
Playing what I wanted, when I wanted, and stepping into my own little world.
One consisting of five absolute hunks.
Oh, how I loved Joey McIntyre.
THE first cassette I ever bought was Dirty Mind, by Prince, in 1980 but even at the time I could tell it was the worst possible way to listen to music.
My favourite track was When You Were Mine, followed by Uptown and Head.
When You Were Mine was the second track but Uptown and Head were towards the end of the cassette so this resulted in more fast-forwarding and rewind-ing than it did listening to his Purple Majesty.
A vinyl comeback is totally understandable.
Hoping for a return of cassettes is like wishing for a return of the Black Death.
BORN In The USA by Bruce Springsteen was my first cassette, which I listened to non-stop on my Walkman.
My first job at 18 was working at advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi.
I would need to get the Tube every day.
It was about 16 stops, took about 40 minutes and I could just about listen to both sides of the cassette.
To this day I know the lyrics to every song.
When I hear any track from it, it reminds me of many journeys on the hot sticky Tube and starting my career full of hope, ambition and determination.
ROCK ’N Roller Disco featured a sexy pair of roller skates on the cover.
It was a compilation album in the style of Now That’s What I Call Music!
Because you could listen to them in the car, cassettes tended to become the soundtrack to summer holidays.
It took hours to drive anywhere, because our campervan would only do about 40mph, so I still can’t hear Video Killed The Radio Star (track one, side two) without being transported back to the bench seat of a VW Caravanette as a child.
I’m not surprised cassettes have come back into vogue, they have their own signature sound, too.
THE real point about cassette tapes was their portability.
It was the simple pleasure of playing Ray Charles’ Greatest Hits and Ella Fitzgerald backed by Louis Armstrong at full blast in my MG Maestro.
But as a journalist the cassette recorder really transformed my life.
I could carry out interviews without taking laborious shorthand notes.
It would be impossible for slippery politicians to claim they had been misquoted.
When I interviewed a very prickly Chancellor Gordon Brown about his latest Budget we had TWO cassette recorders whirring together.
Under close questioning, he told us more than he intended.
We had a great Page One story. Gordon was furious.
What he never knew was that both cassette machines had inexplicably stopped recording after a few seconds.
Luckily, we had also taken shorthand notes to save our bacon.
THERE were several albums I was desperate to buy in the early Seventies but money was tight and I preferred to spend what little I had on sweets.
So my first ever cassette tape was a cheapo blank one from Woolworths.
Then, every Sunday night from 5pm to 7pm, I would borrow my mother’s cassette recorder and place it next to the radio for the weekly chart show.
Fingers hovering over the play and record buttons, I would wait until the DJ introduced a song I liked, then press both down the second he stopped talking.
The result was a mix tape of all my favourite pop songs which I would play endlessly until I either a) got sick of them, or b) the tape got tangled.
Oh happy days.
FROM the age of ten to 18 I spent every single available penny I had on records – vinyl.
I bought cassettes only when they were knocked down in price – my first two, when I was 12, were Rory Gallagher’s Tattoo and Lou Reed’s Rock ’n’ Roll Animal.
Later, I had so many albums I started up a company called “Rod Records”.
I used C-90 tapes to record albums or compilations from my collection.
I designed covers for the cassettes and flogged them to school friends for £1.49 each, thus making a 50p profit on each one.
My top seller was The Best Of Neil Young – I had all his albums.
All totally illegal, of course – “piracy is not a victimless crime”, as they say.
But I didn’t give a monkey’s back then.
I even beat Warner Bros in releasing Van Morrison’s live album “It’s Too Late To Stop Now” before his own label did – I recorded his concert direct from the TV performance in 1974.
IT was a C60, from Woolworth’s in Edinburgh.
I’d bought it to record Status Quo’s live 1982 concert in front of Prince Charles, at the NEC, broadcast by BBC One.
Turned the living room into an exclusion zone.
Got it all set up in front of the telly, with the little microphone pointing in the right direction, then my mum came in to tell me tea was ready half way through the opening number, Caroline.
It wasn’t exactly Woodstock.
But that’s the jeopardy of live recordings for you.
This is an easy memory.
I bought Selling England By The Pound, by Genesis, from Bradley’s in Doncaster.
I already had it on vinyl and 8-track so it made sense to buy it again on tape.