8-track

BOOK REVIEW: Unspooled – An Adventure in 8-Tracks by Tim Durling

UNSPOOLED:  An Adventure in 8-Tracks by Tim Durling (2022)

Every collector is different.  We cannot be painted with a single brush.  I, for example, collect music formats that I have the equipment to play.  I don’t own any reel-to-reel and only a couple 8-track tapes for that reason.  Tim Durling on the other hand doesn’t care.  He loves 8-tracks even though he has no way to play them, nor does he really have any interest in getting into the players.  Restoration of the players and tapes themselves is a expensive hobby that many do enjoy, but Tim is all about the collecting.

A single Journey tape sitting in a desk drawer was the modest beginning, years before Tim really dove into it.  His passion for collecting the bands he loves is at the heart of Unspooled, Tim’s first book and a great resource for 8-track tapes.  If the praise that Martin Popoff throws down in the forward isn’t enough to convince you, then I give up!

Unspooled is a visual feast.  Every page pops with vivid print, and many are loaded with photos of tapes that you never knew existed on 8-track.  Tim was fascinated early on to learn that record clubs such as Columbia House sold 8-track tapes through the mail, long after they were available in stores.  These “RCO” tapes can be very difficult, but rewarding to find, especially when you have a love affair with collecting.  See for yourself, how pretty the 8-tracks look when photographed next to their cassette, CD and LP counterparts.  How many albums do you own in four formats?

Tim includes lists of known RCO tapes from 1981 to 1988.  Wait…1988?  Yes, somebody in 1988 was still ordering 8-track tapes from record clubs!  Astounding.  And Tim’s got the proof.  He also has pictures from his childhood (sweet GI Joe’s, dude!) and of obscure tech like the infamous 8-track to cassette car adapter.  Chapters are named after related songs, but there are plenty of surprises along the way.  I’ve never seen a Bruce Springsteen box set on 8-track before.

Interviews and stories from friends and experts help colour in the picture a bit.  Information you wouldn’t just find yourself.  For example, what is a “coffee can tape”?  8-tracks were notorious for unspooling and being difficult to fix.  Often customers would carry the mass of unspooled tape in a coffee can to be repaired.  And here’s something else I didn’t know, but should have expected.  Counterfeit tapes are a problem now in the collector’s market.  Some of these tapes go for serious coin today.  Stuff that you used to find at a garage sale for 10 cents, or worse, in the garbage.  Contributions comes from characters such as Marco D’Auria the Contrarian, Ryan Murphy from RushFans, and yours truly, LeBrain.

Yes, that means I am biased, but I don’t think my review would be any different otherwise.  Take Martin Popoff’s word for it.  Limited copies of Unspooled are still available.  Contact Tim’s Vinyl Confessions to order yours.

5/5 stars

 

Tim Durling gets Unspooled with music and stories on the LeBrain Train

Have you ever had a conversation when you just knew what the other person was about to say?  Not like a déjà vu, just a…synchronicity.  A crossroads in time and space, intersecting with a very specific subsection of music fandom.  I experienced that tonight with Tim Durling, but you will have to watch this episode yourself to hear the stories.  Keywords:  “Soundtrack to the Video Historia“.

Tim has just written what could be the very first book dedicated to the subject of 8-track tapes.  You can support Tim’s project by clicking here!  As a collector, he has sought to determine what exactly has been released on the format and what has not.  There are a lot of unknowns in this little-documented realm, but what you will find in his book is only information that is 100% verified.  If he wasn’t satisfied that something was released, it didn’t go in the book.

I can’t wait to get my copy of Unspooled, and you have until October 23 to kickstart it.  The colour photographs of these tapes are sure to melt your eyeballs.  But before that happens…watch the show below!  Thanks again to Tim for stopping by.  And thanks to Aaron for co-hosting!

Unspooled! Author Tim Durling joins the LeBrain Train Friday at 7:00 PM

The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano

Episode 83 – Unspooled with Tim’s Vinyl Confessions

8-track tapes:  While many of us know what they are, very few of us have ever played one.  I still remember the clicky-clacky of the tape changing tracks!  So does Tim Durling, from Tim’s Vinyl Confessions.  But he’s not here to talk about vinyl tonight.  Tonight we talk 8-track tapes!

Unspooled:  An Adventure in 8-Tracks is the title of Tim’s forthcoming book, which you can help fund right now on Kickstarter.  Tim’s knowledge of the format, and his mighty collection, have enabled him to write a must-have book loaded with pictures of ultra-rare releases.  If you have ever been curious about this most intriguing of formats, then this is an episode that you do not want to miss!

Joining us for co-hosting duties will be Aaron from the KMA.  Tune in, won’t you?

Friday October 8, 7:00 PM E.S.T. on Facebook:  MikeLeBrain and YouTube:  Mike LeBrain.

#945: Spinning Vinyl ’75

RECORD STORE TALES #945: Spinning Vinyl ’75

If there was ever a photo that prophesized the future, I have found it.  Taken in late 1975, there I am listening to a record with a big pair of headphones on.  I was merely three, but look at the smile on my face.  And the clothes…am I wearing shoes in the house?

Behind me, the original family stereo.  Every family in the neighbourhood had one.  Ours had an 8-track player and a turntable.  You can tell I’m playing a record, and not a tape, because the cover is off the turntable.  The big clunky headphones didn’t fit my head, but they would later.  Because this system had an 8-track deck, it also came with two microphones.

Oh my God I just realized my mom put a plant on top of the stereo!

Since this is before Star Wars, I probably wasn’t listening to music.  I only remember owning two records.  One was a Lone Ranger story record, and the other was The Flintstones.  But they came out after this picture was taken.  If this photo had been taken in the Instagram era, the cover would be prominently displayed behind me.  Sadly we’ll never know what I was listening to.

#391.5: Mail from Cataraqui

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RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#391.5: Mail from Cataraqui

I got mail!

The only thing sweeter than the arrival of an Amazon order, or that of imported Transformers toys from China, is surprise mail from a fellow music lover. This time that music lover is Geoff over at the 1001 Albums in 10 Years blog. Geoff sent me a cryptic email a few weeks ago about some things he found that I might be interested in having for my collection:

“Mike,
I picked up a couple practically-free musical treasures at our local Value Village this week.
I’m not sure if they’ll actually play, but when I saw them I thought they’d be neat assets in the LeBrain collection!”

What a guy! I love surprises!

There are a few major audio formats that have no representation in my music collection. If I can’t play it, as a collector I generally don’t seek it out. As a music geek however, I love odd formats and releases. There are certain bands that I would collect just about anything from, and the big one is Kiss. Geoff knew this. Now I can add 8-track to the formats I own of Kiss Alive! This is definitely getting a place of honour in LeBrain’s displays of treasure. Probably right next to that weird Def Leppard Pyromania cassette that Aaron found for me at Sonic Boom.

Also in the package, and presumed worthless by Geoff, are two 45’s. According to Geoff’s accompanying letter, the records “you would be able to play, but are too damaged to do so!”

Fooey. My USB turntable only cost $50. Let’s give it a shot.

Both singles are records I didn’t have before. Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” / “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll” has a different B-side from the 12″ single that I do have. The 7″ has the studio version of “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll” instead of the live. And it played fine! It was dusty but cleaned up fine.  Score!

The Kiss single, for “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” / “Hard Times”, was not as fortunate.  It is massively warped.  I measured the warp at 1/4 inch at its largest point.  But get this…it played!  It didn’t sound the greatest, but it played!

In his letter, Geoff says “Thought they still work as collectibles or conversation starting coasters.”  Well, Twisted Sister and Kiss Alive! are officially entering the LeBrain Library.  As for “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”?  Though it plays, I don’t think I will play it again.  I think this might make an excellent wall decoration, however!

Thanks Geoff!  I’ll find something funky and cool to send in return.

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