I’m a musician who has dabbled in indie zero-budget filmmaking and small-press publishing. If you’ve landed here looking for more on the music stuff, check out www.craighughes.net or my related WordPress blog: Channel Nowhere – which is where I post about my own music and related projects (and whatever else comes to mind). That’s not so much what this blog is about.
What this blog is about.
Over the years as a full-time-musician-who-runs-a-micro-label-and-that, I have at best maintained hitherto achieved levels of skintness and at worst dipped into actual poverty. As a result I’ve had to make the occasional sacrifice – notably, my music collection.
I’d say I’ve had three separate collections through the decades, each sold to fund a business venture or pay the rent or some such, with a large part of Collection #3 being donated to an Oxfam music shop I used to run. The tattered remains of that last album collection amount to a couple of hundred or so LPs of varying condition, roughly 80 or 90 singles (12″ and 7″), then there’s maybe 150 CD albums and 30ish CD singles. Tapes are down to a handful of albums, a cassingle and some old photocopy-insert record fair bootlegs. There’s also a few old tape-label things from the 80s, demos and so on. And that’s about it. Not so much a collection, then, as just some stuff I have.
Of course I do have a lot of music as digital ‘soft copies’ but I prefer not to be wed to my computer or iPod/whatever when wanting to hear some tunes. I also prefer a physical format as I like to be able to refer to sleeve notes etc. without having to resort to Google or the appropriate Wiki for songwriting credits and what have you.
Just recently it occurred to me that cassettes are going cheap most everywhere. There were plenty of tapes in my original collection(s), it’s a nice warm analogue format which I like – but for a lot of people it’s also an abandoned format. So, theoretically, building a new collection on the cheap could be done via charity and junk shops. And eBay, obviously. Not forgetting of course the darker corners of proper record shops.
So that’s the plan. Of course, I’ll pick up some vinyl, CDs and downloads as I go but for the “curated collection” purposes of this here blog, it’s all about the tape. No genre limits, everything from roots’n’blues through prog, metal, rock, jazz and whatever else – I’ll detail where I got them, what I spent, and I’ll review them too. And, yes, I will, at least part of the time, be listening on a Walkman.
That blog title, by the way, is after a song from my Hard Times: Volume 1 EP. This one, in fact (click the link for Bandcamp player): Tapes For My Walkman.
Hmmm. Dangerously self-publicistic, that last bit. Won’t let it happen again*.
After discovering a stack of VHS tapes while having a bit of a clear-out recently I found, after a little research, that many of the titles had never seen a DVD or digital release at all. At this point most of what that had turned up were music videos, with a handful of movies and some martial arts/boxing stuff. As I wanted to watch at least a few of them again I decided to invest in a VCR/analogue telly set-up and once that was in place I couldn’t help picking up a few more tapes which are hard, if not impossible, to find on any format. It wasn’t too great a jump to think of writing a few of them up, as not too long ago I’d started an audio tape review blog called Tapes For My Walkman which is ongoing here.
I’m not about to jump into the VHS collecting scene as such – I’ve neither the cash nor the space. I’m sure there’ll be a few purchases based on the “cool” factor or some other, equally illogical parameter. The main idea, however, is to find things I can’t readily find elsewhere and other than that, there’s no real rhyme nor reason to what I’m picking up. Charity and junk shop finds have thrown up some rarities as well as very cheap copies of stuff I might not otherwise check out. Mind, I have already paid the top end of the cost of a new DVD or Blu-Ray for a couple of tapes. Twat.
As with the audio reviews, this is going to be an “anything goes” deal genre-wise . Overall, my personal tastes in film certainly won’t be fully represented as, for instance, if a movie is likely to suffer overly from the common-to-VHS 4:3 aspect ratio or was cut on release by the dastardly BBFC, I’ll most likely seek it out on a different format. Instead, my focus here will largely be on the movies made with home video release in mind from the early ’80s to the mid ’00s as well as TV and music releases and what have you. I’ve a love for post-apocalyptic and cyberpunk-style science fiction and westernised martial arts stuff, all of which came into their own during the glory years of VHS, so be prepared for plenty of that. What I’m saying is: expect a rich vein of David Carradine and Rutger Hauer content.
*not legally binding.