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Happy 8-Track Day, Music Heads Of Yesteryear!

April 11th, 2019 · Tags:Arts · Music

YES!

Thanks to fellow music head J-Ferg for pointing out that today is National Eight-Track Tape Day!

8-Track Holiday

My first 8-track player was a used tape player-only unit  — no AM/FM, no turntable — with two eight-inch-square speakers — purchased from my neighbor Barry for 10 bucks. And so it begun …  The last 8-track player I owned was an all-in-one unit, including a game-changing FM receiver and an 8-track recorder …  “let the piracy begin,” swapping and recording tapes … Woohoo! … That upgrade was awarded to me via a local radio contest (as detailed in the link/box below).

Pinging The Potty Humor Can Be Quite Winning!

I digress … About those tapes … Remember the old Columbia House ads that sold you 8 or 9 tapes all for $7.99, or whatever, if you pledged to buy 5 more recordings at regular price in the next year?  It was always a challenge to find 8 or 9 good titles in the discounted list … but we did it anyway.  Pretty sure that is why I owned the 8-track by two-hit wonders Orleans (“Dance With Me” … the one of the two that I like).

I left Vega about a week after high school graduation and moved to Canyon, next door to one of the most interesting people I ever met — Boliver. Or “Bubba” as he was called.

Bubba could pound anyone in the dirt in a street fight, but played the acoustic guitar with the soft touch of a minstrel. He was John Denver’s face on an Division 1 linebacker’s body. And he was the first person I had met at that point who had more 8-track tapes than me.

Bubba had won a contest sponsored by Hastings Records and Tapes which allowed him to run through their store and grab all the music he could carry out within a short time frame for the contest. Ha … he had some obscure recordings based on the pace of that spree. He even had a tape by REO Speedwagon, before Kevin Cronin joined and fronted the band for their live “You Get What You Play For” recording which put them on the map. Good stuff.

Bubba and I discussed strategy … and agreed that the way to maximize the haul would be to wear baggy, baggy sweat pants and fill the legs with music, as you ran through the store. I can’t remember if that had been Bubba’s strategy or not … Regardless he made off with lots of tunes.

Great memories … almost every tape I ever played would double track at one point in the list of songs, at which point a book of paper matches was inserted as a spacer above or below the cartridge to better align the magnetic tape inside the cartridge with the tape heads of the tape deck.

It was always fun that different artists and labels had different colored plastic tape cartridges, surrounding/protecting that often misbehaving spool of music inside.  It went something like this:

 

Pink — Atlantic

Seems like Atlantic 8 tracks were usually pink cartridges but they had other colors too.  In my mind, the most striking artwork on a pink one was Led Zeppelin’s “Houses Of The Holy” with its “Eloi-esque” blond Druids sprawled out on the huge stone steps to some mysterious, dystopian temple.

Black — Capitol

The Beatles … the 8 track that comes to mind was a two-cartridge selection of the F4’s works, 1967-1970, with artwork showing the band on the corner of an upper-floor railing of a hotel atrium, looking down.

White — MCA

Lynyrd Skynyrd … Southern and proud, before hate took over.  The self-titled “Pronounced Lynyrd Skynrd” album with “Simple Man,”  “Gimmee Three Steps,” and of course (“What song is it that you want to hear?”) Freebird.

 

Blue — RCA & Fantasy

Credence Clearwater Revival

“Creedence Gold” — “Who’ll Stop The Rain?” Their take on “Proud Mary,”  “Bad Moon Rising,” “The Midnight Special,” “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?,” “Down On The Corner,” “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” “Suzie Q” … perhaps one of the best “best of” recordings ever, and largely based on cover versions.

Red — Columbia

Chicago Transit Authority … lots of just Chicago brand/logo artwork … with an occasional photo of the band — like the one of them rolling on the paint/and or the artwork on a billboard, or something like that. Great numbers songs:) “25 Or 6 To 4” and my favorite, the nebulous “Questions 67 & 68.”

 

White — RCA 

RCA had The King … to the Thin White Duke, David Bowie … “ch-ch-ch Changes,” “ground control to Major Toms … and all that.”  Wonder if David Bowie ever looked remotely the same on any two pieces of LP artwork?

 

Black — Warner Brothers

The Doobie Brothers! My first real rock concert … and my second … and fifth … and 100th or so when I was actually shooting the band on stage.  So many great LP art pieces — the iconic jukebox cover of their greatest hits; the dramatic photo of a horse-drawn wagon under the remnants of a superhighway bridge collapsed by an earthquake for “The Captain And Me” and the breakthrough Toulouse Street 8-track with the band in a hippie/Normal Rockwell family portrait.  “Listen To The Music.”

 

Black — Bearsville label?

Foghat … “Fool For The City”

Foghat

 

And a few comedy tapes.  Pretty much every guy I knew had an 8-track copy of Cheech & Chong’s “Los Cochinos” encased in an almost military green cartridge if memory serves … and of course we knew every word to their comedy skits.  “No, Dave’s not here, man!” … So fun.

Happy 8-Track Day … and disregard the two songs double tracking and playing over each other:)

 

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