Part 154: Cassettes Part IV – LeBrain’s Tapes (What Remains)

RECORD STORE TALES Part 154:  

Cassettes Part IV – LeBrain’s Tapes (What Remains)

I used to have a lot of tapes.  So many, that T-Rev converted my closet doors to shelving, just to store my numerous cassettes!  It was quite a feat of engineering on his part.

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If you’ve read the other three parts of this series on cassettes, then you’ve already seen some of the awesome artwork that T-Rev used to come up with for his tapes.  Doing those articles got me nostalgic, but very few of my own tapes remained.  A year or two before I met Mrs. LeBrain, I briefly dated this one girl who was getting into hair metal.  I had succeeded in replacing most of my tapes on CD (although still incomplete; I need a copy of Live Fast, Die Fast by Wolfsbane, and Phenomenon 1).  All my tapes were redundant, and I gave her boxes and boxes full of them.

God knows where those tapes are now.  I doubt she took them back home to Thunder Bay when it was all over, they probably ended up in a landfill.  No big loss really, the only shame of it is that, like T-Rev, I used to make a lot of my own custom artwork.

Mrs. LeBrain and I were visiting her mom yesterday, and I found some of my old Beatles tapes that I had made, at her place!  Her dad drove a delivery van with nothing but a tape deck inside.  He was more than happy to receive my old Beatles tapes, and he loved them.  And there they were, still at the house, complete with my computer generated J-cards.  Nothing elaborate, although I did paste the cover for Abbey Road onto that tape.

This inspired me to dig through some boxes here, and see if I had any of my own tapes left.  Surely there must be something here, with some of my own custom cover art!  There was just a handful left, stuff that I wouldn’t have parted with at the time, and lo and behold, there was my old artwork.  These sure brought back memories!

Back in the early record store days, cassette was my primary medium.  They were portable, you could leave them in the car and not worry about them getting banged up, so I recorded everything onto cassette.  It wasn’t until I had left the record store in 2006 that I got my first car with a CD deck.  Before then, I had one of those adapter kits to play a discman in the car, but it sounded shite.  I was glad to find the following treasures tucked away in a box!

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Ahh, Spinal Tap.  A Spinal Tap Reunion was recorded from a 1992 TV special.  Unavailable on DVD today, as far as I know.  That’s a shame.

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I bought Grande Rock by The Hellacopters on vinyl, to get that bonus track “Angel Dust”.  Or, more accurately, one of my record store compatriots got it for me at Orange Monkey Music in Waterloo.  I dutifully recorded it to cassette without making elaborate packaging, but I did put some effort into the cassette spine.

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You Fat Bastards by Faith No More was the full show that was released on CD in truncated form on the Live at the Brixton Academy CD.  This was from a VHS release.

Guns N’ Roses did a couple cool TV specials.  I recorded Live at the Ritz off T-Rev, who stuck on some demos for bonus tracks.  The cover was made by adapting an old Appetite For Destruction J-card.  I think this turned out pretty cool.  Invade Paris! was a TV special from 1992.

These two Maiden tapes were from VHS releases.  It’s a shame that Raising Hell was never released on a CD.  Here’s hoping the band will put that out on a future box set.  It was Bruce’s “final” show.  I just edited out the crap sections with “magician” Simon Drake.   Maiden England is also taken from VHS, but this is the full show.  The CD release omitted two songs:  “Can I Play With Madness”, and “Hallowed Be Thy Name”.  My cassette didn’t!  I thought my J-card for Maiden England turned out pretty cool, using an old Seventh Son cover as its basis.

Unfortunately, this is all that remains of my old cassette art.  I did some much more elaborate things, which Thunder Bay Girl probably tossed out.  One was for Savatage’s Dead Winter Dead.  When I recorded that one to cassette, I actually painted the gargoyle onto a J-card.  Wish I kept that one.  Rush’s Test For Echo may have been the most elaborate one I’ve done.  Using some old cardboard and a full-page ad for the album, I created my own digipack for that cassette.  It would be nice to still have.  Ahh well.

It seems funny, in today’s age of mp3 files and players, that a format as crappy as cassette was anyone’s main format.  But there you go.  Before I could play CD’s in the car, they were the best way to bring music with me.  I’ve always believed a music collection was for showing off as much as listening to, plus I enjoyed making the artwork.  I’m glad some still survives today!

17 comments

  1. Cool amount of time you put into those cassettes….to bad a fellow Thunder Bayian demolished your collection,but the couple of tapes unshowed were cool…

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  2. I remember buying a hi fi VCR so I could transfer VHS audio to cassette tape,one of the first ones was Live Without A Net by Halen,followed by Kiss Animalize live from Detroit,my Walkman was rockin like Dokken!!!!

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    1. I did both of those too Deke! I may still have the Van Halen cassette. I guess I could transfer those cassettes to CD now but the sound quality would be pretty iffy!

      There’s probably an mp3 audio rip of both shows on the web somewhere.

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  4. Those are some serious looking shelves. Well done, T-Rev.

    Ah, cassettes. I lived and died by those, back in the day, man. I still get nostalgic for them sometimes. We played the whole album more, when it was tapes. Getting a double-cassette deck was the ultimate, then mixes could happen! I had an old black and purple Yorx with the vinyl on top (got it at Canadian Tire – how’s THAT for taking you back in time!) and I made many, many a mix tape. Hours and hours. I didn’t care so much about the artwork, just wrote the song titles on the j-card. The combinations of songs was the thing. I gave tapes to girlfriends. I had a mix of Me First And The Gimme Gimmes that got stuck in my first car’s tape deck, so it was them or nothing. Me and my buddy Brian stayed up into the wee hours debating which tracks to include on mixes, or just shamelessly ripping whole albums, in real time, to cassette. Great times. Hi-speed dubbing came later and I always felt the quality was less on hi-speed dub. Was it true? Who knows. Probably not. Anyway, I have some of my old tapes here, even from my university days, I still need to dig those out.

    r.e. other comments (above): Good one, man. Yer getting some more of your tapes back! Careful, it’s a heady experience to open a box full of your past, like that. Take it slow. You don’t wanna over-do it. Also, I’ll be doing a top of 2012 too, over on the KMA. I can x-post in the comments of yours, but it’s tough if no one else heard the picks. Oh well, in the interests of science right! I look forward to the conversation generated by all our top choices.

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    1. I agree — when it was cassette, you played the album through. It was easier to do that than ff or rw to find the song you liked! So it got me into good listening habits automatically.

      Hard to believe that such a crappy sounding medium was my mainstay. And now that I am ripping some of my old tapes (rare recordings like these) to mp3, I can hear just how crappy they did sound!

      My first boombox was a Sanyo, but it had just one tape deck. I got a dual tape deck later on (grade 8), I think it was a Panasonic.

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