Ghosts of Christmas Presents – 1988

Gosh darn it, I’ve done these out of order. If music be the food of love, then tape it off the radio. Or something.

1988 would see my first foray into owning equipment that I could listen to music with properly. I had a basic tape recorder that went with my ZX Spectrum, however the available tapes were very limited. My dad had some old Pickwick compilations from the 70s, and there was maybe a Neil Sedaka one buried in there somewhere. I think I had two tapes of my own. A very badly copied version of “Bridge of Spies” by T’Pau, and one side of Hits 4, both “donated” to me by my long suffering troll friend, Chad. I would listen to them through the same tinny cassette player that I played my ZX Spectrum games through.

Xmas 1988 rolled around. I wasn’t actually sure what I wanted this year. I think I decided on a ghetto blaster type thing because I saw them on telly, and I was just starting to get into music, I was starting to notice songs on the radio more. Once again, Santa came down our chimney, emptied his sack, and still never managed to break the gas fire. He’s an amazing bloke. anyway, here’s what he left me. Again, not my one, as I can’t find a photo of it (though I’m sure they exist) I had to ‘borrow’ this one from a well known auction site.

I absolutely loved it. It opened a whole new world for me. I did get some tapes with it. namely Kylie’s first album, and a Status Quo compilation released by Castle Communications, sadly none of the big hits from the 80s were on this.

Something that was also new to me… the availability of blank tapes. I received a pack of 4 c-90 tapes, and these were soon full of music from the radio. Now, I don’t condone piracy and the people who actually profit from it, but having the ability to record stuff off the radio for the first time opened up a new world for me. The songs I’d heard on the radio, I was able to capture, and play back whenever I wanted, and it certainly lead me into the interest in music I have today. I’ve always disagreed with the old “home taping is killing music” slogan. Over the years, I’ve picked up essentially everything I taped off the radio on CD, LP or some other legitimate format.

I still have a lot of the tapes I recorded as a kid, and they’re somewhat dear to me in a weird way. Of course, I have to cut out the bits where I’m singing, or shouting 9-year old gibberish into the microphone, but I could probably tell you what was on a particular tape just by its look and, more worryingly, its smell.

Yes, smell.

As I mentioned, it wasn’t long before the blank tapes I’d received were full, and I needed to find some more to go with them. Now the local newspaper shop sold blank tapes, and I’d often save up a couple of weeks worth of pocket money and get one. They were manufactured by a company called “Yashima”, and were chrome tapes. Normally quite expensive.

I’m sure I’ve talked about these before, as I remember trying to find a photo of one, but being unsuccessful. This is the closest approximation I can find. I mentioned smell, because for some reason, these particular cassettes stunk of cheese. Now, I’m not quite sure exactly what caused it. Maybe it was the magnetic media, maybe it was the binding glue, maybe it was the labels, but these tapes absolutely stunk.

I would often take this stereo over to Chad’s, and we’d spend hours playing music on this, and playing Soccer Boss. Chad would occasionally allow me to copy some of his music using this, as long as I didn’t use those ‘cheesy tapes’.

Sadly, these Yashima tapes were extremely fragile. It was the only brand of tape I’ve ever had that had physically snapped just through the action of rewinding / fast forwarding. I think I have one example left, and that includes some very special recordings, including the very first time I managed to get “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby on tape… all 8 seconds of it.

I loved this thing. It always went with me whenever we went on holiday to Sandy Bay. I’m sure it’ll be in the background of some of the photos that were taken, but unfortunatelt I can’t find any at the time this was written.

I used this for many years. I think it just stopped working one day, which was a shame. I got another cheaper one in the mid 90’s, but that one fell to bits pretty quickly, but its legacy lives on, through the many hours of music I played (and recorded) through it.