Taped crusader: my cluttered collection of cassettes

I’ve had a pile of cassette tapes gathering dust for maybe 15 years. I figured it was time to go through them. Sorting through some old belongings, I discovered an old walkman that still worked. Bingo! What would be on these dusty old tanglers? I was mostly hoping to find a phone interview I did with Nivek Ogre, or a face-to-face with Fear Factory, neither of which saw the light of day thanks to a mishap in a house move. They must have been in the other pile of tapes, which got damaged. Nope. On this one, I found …


It’s in a Smashing Pumpkins sleeve, but is actually a bootleg of Ministry in 1994. I went through a brief phase of picking up dodgy tapes – cassettes and videos – from the Camden Market. The bloke on the stall claimed to be mates with Killing Joke, and said they let him onto the stage to stand at the side to get the best footage. I never bought one of his Killing Joke tapes, but I did walk away with Skinny Puppy’s 1986 Ain’t It Dead Yet and NIN in Dallas, 1990. I’m guessing this is from that market stall.

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Offsetting the Uncool Footprint

“Would you sleep with that?” A sleeve-art picture of a young Dave Mustaine was thrust into my hand.

I looked up at the doppelganger. “I do sleep with that.”

Him Indoors shrugged, replacing the CD with its 12 brothers in the Megadeth section of our record collection. It was the first time we’d done this, despite having lived together for nearly a decade. We finally alphabeticised and listed our 925 sound recordings before boxing the CDs into special stackable clear plastic boxes so that we can actually find music when we want to listen to it.

Fear Factory … Filter … Flyleaf … Foetus. I picked up one of the 19 pieces of Thirlwell magic and checked the condition of the jewel case, noting the same moody pout. “Are you absolutely sure you don’t have any redheaded uncles who maybe travelled a lot?”

He laughed. “Is this your copy of Implode or mine?”

Front Line Assembly are by far the most represented act in our collection. That’s the trouble when your tastes overlap – you end up with two of everything. Even taking out the duplicates, we have 32 FLA records; 7 on vinyl, 25 on CD. Two sets of Delerium, two sets of NIN, two KMFDM collections and two copies of Die Krupps vs Front Line Assembly: The Remix Wars.

Of course, we don’t have all the same records. The pop and indie is decidedly mine, just as the metal and most of the dance music is his. If it’s from the 60s, it’s mine, but most of the 80s releases are his. Normally, we can glance at a record and know immediately who bought it. Cardiacs’ Baby Heart Dirt? Mine. ZZ Top’s Eliminator? His. There’s a fair number where our overlapping tastes allow us to neatly fill in the blanks in the collection (Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Mission), and a fair few oddities such as how the hell we ended up with two copies of Pigface’s Gub despite neither of us thinking that it’s actually any good.

Then there’s the ones that you honestly don’t know how the hell they ended up there. Van Morrison & Cliff Richard’s Whenever God Shines His Light. I mean, really? I honestly do not remember buying it. I don’t remember ever even liking it. I’m definitely sure it doesn’t belong to Him Indoors, so how on earth did it end up on this list? Did it get accidentally swapped with a former flatmate for my missing copy of Dark Side of the Moon?

That got me thinking, however: what’s the difference between the embarrassing records you’re quite proud of, and the ones that actually make you cringe? You know how people are trying to offset their carbon emissions. Can you do that with music?

What would it take to Offset the Uncool Footprint of that particular single? I mean, I’m not embarrassed about it because of the content – I’ll happily own up to enjoying spiritual sing-alongs by Donna Summer and Candi Staton – it’s just that it’s Cliff-Bloody-Richard and he kinda creeps me out. Let’s face it, we all know that hardly will his corpse be cold but all the revelations will come spluttering out about how he’s spent the past 50 years snorting cocaine off the backs of boy prostitutes. I suppose I have no real opinion on Van Morrison.

If I combine my original 7″ Magical Mystery Tour EP (which includes I Am The Walrus) with my copy of Diana Ross’s Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, would that do it? How about if I throw in my glow-in-the-dark 12″ of Kraftwerk’s Neon Lights? Or is that no longer cool?

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