Art for Bart's sake
Before I replaced it with a BOC quote, my Twitter bio was, "iTunes killed the mixtape star." That wasn't just me riffing on the classic Buggles lyric to be a smart-arse - the sentiment was genuine. Growing up, I enjoyed filling cassettes (and later, for an all-too-short period, CDs) with eclectic assortments of songs engineered to entertain with their "inspired" juxtapositions and perhaps introduce the recipients to new groups or entire subcultures. I also loved being given mixtapes, especially if they contained rare remixes or obscure covers (RS was adept at assembling this sort of tape).
Detailed track info was felt-tipped or typed onto inlays with the care of a medieval monk illuminating the Bible that was his life's work. OK, slight exaggeration. But a fair bit of creative effort went into making each BASF or Maxell or TDK an objet d'art, including hand-drawn decorations or photos cut'n'pasted from "Smash Hits" or "NME". If you had a rush of blood, you might even consult "The Lettering Book" and have a crack at a wacky font.
Everyone's collection had cassettes like these, even if they were simply choons recorded off New FM or JJJ and listed in biro. Now, of the lot of them, I reckon 98% are decomposing in landfill.
But weep and gnash your teeth not! For retroactivists like the ladies of mixedtapeproject.blogspot.com are preserving this tradition by trading and selling mixtapes done in the old style. They had a stall at the recent Newcastle Zine Fair and were flogging wares from their Cassexx "label". I purchased a quirky compilation entitled "Japan Travel Times 2010" that sports a colour illo of a street scene by a French gal residing in Tokyo (www.julieblanchin.com) and brings together the following songs:
"Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone" - The Walkmen
"Walkabout" - Atlas Sound
"+81" - Deerhoof
"Hawaiian Waltz" - Sergio Panigada
"I Should Have Known Better" - The Beatles
"Boozy"(?) - Yura Yura Teikoku
"Memory Tapes" - Bicycle
"Gila" - Beach House
"God Only Knows" - The Beach Boys
"Blessa" - Toro Y Moi
"Alone Again" - Teenager
"I'm Blue" - The 184.108.40.206s
"Help!" - The Beatles
"House Of Love" - Shampoo
"And She Was" - Talking Heads
No, I hadn't heard of half of 'em, either. But what better excuse to bust out (and dust out) the generic Walkman knock-off? Whatever I paid for the tape, it was a bargain. A bargain and a little treasure I wanted to share with youse. Maybe you'll be inspired to send your favourite blogger a mix disc. I'm thinking seriously about manufacturing some (in the cottage industry sense) to use as stocking stuffers this year - or possibly to hand out instead of Chrissie cards. Carve your turkey to the joyful strains of The Smiths' "Meat Is Murder"! Or possibly not.