September 12th, 2021

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More Cheap Cassette Tapes

This evening, transferred a couple more old 1980's Tape & Record Show Enterprises "broadcasts". Realized how "variable" those old budget "Laser XL90" branded blank cassettes were in quality. Some I have from that era sound better today than the Memorex tapes from the time, yet the one with episode 9 of Dennis Goodwin's "Orbit's Independent Sampler" was a muffled MESS! Seems to have deteriorated in storage, because I don't recall it sounding THAT terrible in 1986. The sound got progressively worse as the playback continued. After I finished the transfer, I looked at the playback head in the cassette deck. It had a brown coating. Apparently flaky oxide from the tape. Cleaned the head and transferred the recording a second time, with slightly better results. Ironically, if I had recorded that "broadcast" on one of the blank tapes I bought from Dennis' shop at the time, it might have held up better. Dennis didn't sell crap like "Laser". Think I might have bought that from either Kmart or Howard's Brandiscount. Unfun Fact: The next 6 episodes are on the exact same kind of cassette.

Didn't have any noticeable issues with the next transfer, episode 18 of "The James Stricklin Song Mirage", but then again, it was recorded on a "Maxell LN-90" cassette from 1984, not a "Laser" from 1986.

Descriptions from the original "broadcast" index cards, some things corrected via internet...

"Orbit's Independent Sampler: Episode 9. Broadcast Wednesday, September 10, 1986 at 8:00pm central. Theme Music: The Peter Gunn Theme(The Blues Brothers Band). Oldies show, featuring: Rock Around The Clock(Bill Haley and the Comets), That's All Right(Elvis Presley), Honey Don't(Carl Perkins), High School Confidential(Jerry Lee Lewis), Rainy Day Women(Bob Dylan), 19th Nervous Breakdown(The Rolling Stones), Hey Pocky A-Way(The Meters), Black Gal(Clifton Cheniere), Sissy Strut(The Meters)."

"James Stricklin Song Mirage: Episode 18. Broadcast Monday, November 26,1984 at 9:30pm central. Theme Music: Can You Feel It(The Jacksons). Woodie Tobias Jr(Albert Sims) is this week's co-host. Songs include: Monkee's Theme(The Monkees), We're Not Gonna Take It Anymore(Twisted Sister), Somebody To Love(Queen), Cruel Summer(Bananarama), She Was Hot(The Rolling Stones)."

Also this evening, since I found the original "theme music" tapes of the flagship "Tape & Record Show", which started in 1979 with only me, I transferred the earliest ones to digital. Those will come in handy when I start digitizing the original series, since way back then, I had no mixer, no way to copy tapes (was using a single portable cassette recorder for playback and record), when I listened to a "show" by myself, I had to play the tape with the theme music, take it out, put in the tape with the show content, play that, then put in the tape with the closing theme music. Either the portable cassette deck had low batteries at some point, or my voice was higher pitched when I was 13 and 14 years old. Music sounded "normal" however, for being recorded with a mono microphone from the device. I'll be using those transfers for piecing together those earliest "flagship" shows. I'm amazed those cassettes from then still sound "decent", especially the first one, recorded on a "Scotch" brand C-30 that was re-used several times before then. That tape came as a "demo" with my first portable Panasonic recorder my parents bought for me in 1973 at Barkers.

Tape & Record Show, The Early Days

This evening in my ongoing Tape & Record Show Enterprises archives digitization project, I went back as early as possible and digitized the first two episodes of the organization's "flagship" show, "The Tape & Record Show". In the earliest days, I was only doing it for my own amusement. No one else knew about it then. Didn't have anything but a portable monophonic cassette recorder at the time. Since I had no video machine, I recorded the audio of various TV shows with that recorder, using an external microphone held up to the TV speaker. I had no way to copy or duplicate tapes either at the time, so for "episode" content, to listen to an episode, I had to put in the tape with the theme music, then switch it out with the tapes containing the content, then at the end, the tape with the theme music again... if this makes any sense.

However, in an index card file, I wrote down the "broadcast" information on the days and time I did that, so I have a written record of the "shows". I held on to the majority of the cassettes, even though the sound quality is far less than "spectacular" since they were mostly recorded with a cheap mic from a TV speaker onto cheap tapes, like those three-pack budget cassettes without cases which they used to sell. Technically, since I have a few of those shows I recorded back then on DVD now, I COULD use those to redo the audio, but for authenticity sake, I'm using those original cassette recordings, so the transfers will sound mostly like they did to me at the time. These earliest "broadcasts", you hear no "host" or announcements at all, not even me, just the theme music and show content.

The two episodes I transferred this evening are from other transfers I made in 1985 from the original tapes onto new, higher quality cassettes(by then I had WAY better audio equipment), so I didn't have to locate and dig out those ORIGINAL cassettes. Cheated a bit on THOSE transfers. I had purchased a copy of the vinyl LP by then of the first theme music, and since there was no narration in the original "broadcast" versions, I used that LP version, instead of the version I had checked out of the local library in 1979 and recorded onto that original cassette recorder with a microphone. Also, instead of using the original "Fawlty Towers" off TV recording in episode one, I used the LP version of "The Germans", which has Andrew Sachs as "Manuel" doing linking narration. The "Gilligan's Island" episode in that episode is from the original off TV recording made in 1979 from the local CBS affiliate. They used syndicated splicy 16mm prints of the show.

The first five episodes were an hour each. After that, I settled on one hour episodes on weekends, half hours on weekdays. Yes, I was stupid enough to make it a seven day a week series originally, although there WERE "repeats" of episodes on a regular basis also, as logged in the index cards.

For the digital "episode list" files however, I'm not using what was written on the original cards for "broadcast" information. Back in 1979, I had NO idea what the "official" title of the episodes I recorded off the television were, so on the cards, I just "guessed" at the episode titles. For instance, in episode 2, on the index card, the "Dukes of Hazzard" episode was written as "Moonshine Fuel", and the official title is "High Octane". For the digitizations, I'm correcting as much as possible in the records, via the internet. No internet in 1979 to do research with.

Since there were no commercials, sometimes, like in the second episode transferred this evening, I filled the hour out with something short, like a song, or in this case, the soundtrack of a Looney Tunes short, recorded from "The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show" from Saturday morning CBS broadcasts.

Contents of the two episodes digitized this evening, descriptions "revised" via the internet...

"The Tape & Record Show: Episode 1. Broadcast Thursday, June 28,1979 at 5:00pm central. Theme Music: Beethoven's 5th Symphony(Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra). "Fawlty Towers: The Germans" - With Sybil in the hospital with an ingrowing toenail, a moose's head to hang up and some German guests arriving the next day, Basil has his work cut out for him. After an attempted fire drill goes wrong and Basil lands up in the hospital with concussion, he succeeds causing much offence to the German guests after finally escaping back to the hotel. / "Gilligan's Island: Meet the Meteor" - A meteor hits the island. The Professor discovers that it speeds up the aging process. if they can't get rid of the meteor, the castaways will all be fifty years older in a week!

The Tape & Record Show: Episode 2. Broadcast Friday, June 29,1979 at 5:00pm central. Theme Music: Beethoven's 5th Symphony(Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra). "The Dukes of Hazzard: High Octane" - Boss gets Uncle Jesse to enter a contest for a new type of fossil fuel, saying that moonshine is the perfect way to cut down on pollution. However, Boss has more up his sleeve: He plans to tip off the authorities and, once Jesse is arrested, take credit for the idea himself. / "Looney Tunes: No Parking Hare" - A construction worker wants to blast Bugs out of his rabbit hole so he can build a freeway."

Just a side note, to make me feel OLD, when I conceived these episodes, I hadn't yet turned 14 years old.