GETTING MORE TALE #766: The Blue Tape (1991)
This blue Scotch tape has seen a lot of use over the years. It was my first blank tape, 120 minutes. This cassette was well loved. Back in ’83, it contained open-air recordings of songs like “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” and “The Mighty Quinn”. At some point in history (early 1991) I must have recorded over it. Let’s have a listen.
I have a feeling I know what it is now. Sounds like something I recorded for a girl! It would have been for my long distance crush Tammy.
This tape was never anything more than a cheap cassette, and it sounds awfully horrendous today. The contents, however, are still identifiable. The reason I never sent it to her was that it didn’t pass the sound quality test when I played it back. That was the shitty thing about cassettes. You could pour hours into making something, and then abandon the entire project.
I’m writing this in real time as I listen. If I’m right about my original intentions with this cassette, then I know that I’m going to find a specific song buried somewhere in the track list. Let’s find out.
1. Tesla – “Love Song”
The acoustic intro to the song made a perfect run-in for this lovey-dovey tape. I’ll spare the identity of the poor girl who this was made for, but she knows! This Tesla ballad is still utterly perfect. Off to a good start.
2. Kiss – “Shout It Out Loud”
Whew, I sure am glad it’s not all ballads. This track took me by surprise. I’m glad I used a classic Kiss rocker as the second track, instead of pandering for romance with “Reason to Live”. Good for me!
3. Cheap Trick – “The Flame”
I read a lot of hate for this song today. In the 80s, it was my favourite Cheap Trick and it’s still in my top five. It may be a ballad but like the Tesla one, it’s utterly perfect. This tape is now clearly made for a girl. I’d never do 2/3 ballads for my opening trio otherwise.
4. Warrant – “Thin Disguise”
Here I go again with the rarities! She loved Warrant but there is no way she had this song unless she had the cassette single for “Cherry Pie”. I did — I collected that stuff even back then. Turns out the B-side “Thin Disguise” is one of the best Warrant tracks, even today. It’s an acoustic/electric killer. Jani wrote some incredible songs in his time. This is one.
5. Warrant – “I Saw Red (Acoustic version)”
Another rarity, this time from the “I Saw Red” cassette single. I think this simple acoustic track (just Jani and a guitar) is better than the bombastic A-side version. Even then, I was trying to impress a girl with my music collection — how comical is that?
6. Kiss – “Reason to Live”
Ahh shit, there it is! That is hilarious.
7. Cinderella – “Nobody’s Fool”
OK, I’m getting a little sick of the power ballads now. The cool thing is, I know for a fact that I taped this off a cassette that she gave me for Christmas called Rulers of Rock. I wanted to show that I appreciated the gift by including this song. Kind of like when your favourite aunt gave you a sweater and you had to wear it when she was over to visit.
Enough with the ballads though. Let’s get a rocker next. Let’s hope for a rocker.
8. Kim Mitchell – “Easy to Tame”
Well, it’s not a ballad, but it ain’t a rocker either. Kim Mitchell was a good way into a girl’s heart in the late 80s and early 90s. Everybody loved “Patio Lanterns”. “Easy to Tame” was kind of like it’s cooler, lesser known cousin.
9. Paul Stanley – “Hold Me, Touch Me (Think Of Me When We’re Apart)”
Jesus fuck! I went full ballad. This was probably my favourite ballad of all time back then. Stanley’s guitar solo is flawlessly written and executed. And I got three Kiss songs right there on side one.
10. Kiss – “I’ll Be Back”
Four! Four Kiss songs! What a wild inclusion, too. This is a brief, very quick, Beatles tune done a-cappella for Kiss eXposed on VHS. I dubbed this from the video for a “soundtrack tape” that I made, and then recorded it here tape to tape. Just a filler between two other songs, but fuck…that’s cool.
11. Killer Dwarfs – “Doesn’t Matter”
At least this ballad has balls. We played this song a lot the previous summer. Bob had the cassette for Dirty Weapons, and he loved this song. A couple years later it was still good enough to include on their next album Method to the Madness. It’s still great.
12. Triumph – “Let the Light (Shine on Me)”
I’m getting steadily more and more disgusted with myself as the ballads play on. This one was recorded from the 7″ single, but at this point I don’t care and I just want the side to be over so I can flip the tape.
13. Quiet Riot – “Don’t Wanna Let You Go”
I’ll let myself off with a warning here, because this electric song is still pretty great. Truthfully, I included it hoping she’d like it, as Quiet Riot wasn’t really her thing. I was feeling nostalgic for the early 80s, the simplicity and quality of the Metal Health era. You didn’t need a ballad to have a hit then, and indeed “Don’t Wanna Let You Go” isn’t a single. Even in this shitty tape, Carlos’ guitar sound incredible.
14. Slaughter – “Fly to the Angels (Acoustic version)”
I put this on because she loved Slaughter but didn’t have a CD player, and this was a CD bonus track.
I need a break from all the balladeering, but I have a feeling the mush will be just as relentless. On the whole of side 1, there was only one track that you could call a rocker!
1. Judas Priest – “Out in the Cold”
Here it is! Yes, I sure do remember making this tape. The main motivation was — get this — to trick her into liking Judas Priest.
She hated Priest. Meanwhile, we were in the Painkiller era and I was riding a Priest high. I planned to write this song on the cover as:
1. Exciter – “Out in the Cold”
I used an alias (disregarding the thrash band with the same name because I know she wouldn’t recognize it) because I wanted her to hear this awesome Priest song with no preconceived notions. I wanted her to love it. I never found out since the cassette sounds so terribly bad and I never sent it, but this proves that I remembered my intentions correctly.
This sheds a new light on all the balladry. I was trying to really lull her in. I figured I needed a tape with nothing but the best soft songs in the world to really get her with the mighty Priest. It’s all coming back to me now.
2. Frehley’s Comet – “It’s Over Now”
I didn’t think she would know this one, but I hoped she’d like it. I was a big proponent of the second Frehley disc, appropriately called Second Sighting. I always thought this song should have been a huge, huge hit. I was hoping she would agree. Unusually for a Frehley song (but wiser from a commercial ballad point of view), it has both lead vocals and lead guitar by Tod Howarth.
3. Frozen Ghost – “Promises”
This one takes me completely by surprises. It’s a great song, but I didn’t have it back then. My sister did — I must have poached it from her collection for this tape. Bob played this a lot in the car over the last couple summers, so our whole gang would remember it fondly. She would have been in the car when we were rocking Frozen Ghost. Lead singer Arnold Lanni later went on to become quite a successful producer. Guitarist Phil X made it even bigger, now touring the world with Bon Jovi!
4. Lee Aaron – “Only Human”
I don’t think this is one of Lee’s finer moments, but I thought she’d like it, so on it went.
5. Winger – “Miles Away”
Putrid. Just awful. Fast forwarding.
6. AC/DC – “Moneytalks”
Holy shit! Finally a rock song. AC/DC were huge in ’90-’91. I couldn’t have gone wrong with AC/DC. Then why the fuck didn’t I include more? “Who Made Who”. “You Shook Me All Night Long”. Everybody likes those songs. Holy shitballs.
7. Motley Crue – “Home Sweet Home”
Tammy had Dr. Feelgood before I did, but I don’t know if she would have Theater of Pain back then. There was no such thing as a Motley greatest hits (can you imagine such a world?) so I thought this would be nice for her to have.
8. Van Halen – “Dreams”
OK, probably not a ballad. Very keyboard-heavy. Very easy to enjoy, and Van Hagar were still cool as fuck.
9. Van Halen – “Dancing in the Streets”
Some folks that are not necessarily Van Halen fans really like their version of “Dancing in the Streets”. It’s probably better than Bowie/Jagger, at least. I’m pleased with myself for including both Sammy and Dave on this tape, and one after the other no less!
10. REZ – “Shadows”
Woah! Deep cut. This was a tape, of a tape, of a tape, of a tape. You can imagine what it sounds like today. Bob and I loved this song by the Christian rock band REZ, formerly Resurrection Band. You can see that I snuck in a few unfamiliar songs like this, hoping she’d get into them. This one is pretty easy to like. Total shock to find it here.
11. Kiss – “Hard Luck Woman”
Kiss Count: five.
12. Brighton Rock – “One More Try”
This also comes as a surprise. Then I think to myself that my music collection wasn’t very large back then and I would have to pull a few obscure ones out. If I remember the details clearly, Tammy had MTV and so didn’t necessarily hear as much Canadian content like Brighton Rock.
13. AC/DC – “You Shook Me All Night Long”
Ah, good. What’s interesting to me about this is that at this point of the tape, the right channel is completely inaudible. So all I get is Angus (no Malcolm), Brian, and maybe half of Phil Rudd.
To my surprise, that is the last song. Usually I snuck something short and goofy at the end of a tape. “You Shook Me All Night Long” does make a good final song….
I didn’t erase the tape to the end! There is something left at the tail. Older contents; older than 1991.
It’s “On the Road to Rock” by Kick Axe! It is a mystery how that song got on this tape in the first place, as I didn’t own it back then and don’t even own it now. I must have recorded it off someone. Who, I have no idea. Perhaps my next door neighbour George had it. It was him or Bob, but I’ll never know for sure. George is gone now and Bob wouldn’t remember.
Knowing when I made this tape, and all the motivations behind it doesn’t forgive it for being a piece of shit. I did a shitty job here folks! Too many ballads, not enough variety. It’s a real slog to listen to without a fast forward button. At least half of those ballads could be axed, and replaced with something else that I had in my collection at that time.
Usually when you make a tape for someone, you give it away and never hear it again. In this case I had the rare chance to play back a mix tape that I made 28 years ago and never sent. It’s just as bad as I feared though not without some surprises and the odd cool inclusion.
That blue Scotch tape, an ancient C-120, goes back to at least 1983 making it 36 years old at minimum. 120 minute tapes are never any good, and this one was always particularly cheap. Now that I’ve satisfied my curiosity, I will never play this tape again.