Saturday, March 13, 2021

Cassette tape creator dies and memories of Mix Tapes

Opinion piece in The Guardian by Barbara Ellen - Cassette tape
"Thank you for the music, Mr Ottens. Nothing will ever top the mixtape
The death of the inventor of cassettes should sadden anyone for whom they were the final word in cool"
This article got me thinking about how in the late 1960s and 1970s we got into making our own selection of music (My wife and I's first home stereo was made by Thorn and with a turntable and cassette player and the firm in Henderson, Auckland tossed in a free cassette for our purchase. The Cantor from Kentucky, Solomon King.
I remember the challenge of timing out your music selection so that one side of the cassette finished on a completed song. Otherwise it was rudely cut off.
I also remember loaning my LP of Neil Diamond - Moods to Dave K who did his cassette copy and had to buy me a replacement LP as he had left Neil Diamond in his car in the hot sun!
Fellow Unforgettable Music Society member Jim Wolf used to work closely with me in sourcing material and Jim will know how we used to be offered cassette tape collections from deceased estates from Unforgettable Music Society members who wondered what they might do with their parents' collection of music on cassette. Plus we were offered cassette copies of songs recorded off air (Dave of Te Aroha comes to mind)and people talked about how they used to try and avoid the back announcements.  Sometimes these were our best offerings of rare material - until Alex Farkash came on the scene and was constantly adding to his digital collection.
to a copy & paste of the article by Barbara Ellen

The inventor of the cassette tape, Lou Ottens, has died, aged 94. It’s quite a moment for those of us whose youths were defined by the humble mixtape, the ecstasy and the agony of all those unspooling C90s and twisted-up C60s. I take that back: there was nothing humble about the mixtape. A great mixtape was a work of art, requiring focus and vision. The careful selections. The all-important order. The different-coloured pens. The naming of the tape across the spine (felt-tip, bubble graphics, perhaps a tragic years-too-late anarchy symbol). Occasionally, you’d find old, cracked cases in your pocket, or at the bottom of bags, sometimes in two pieces, like a broken heart, and you’d scan titles, wincing at Former You’s poor choices. The Bangles slapped next to Wire? Was I some kind of monster? I say “attention to detail”, you say “clear signs of neuroticism bordering on sociopathy”, and maybe we’re both right. Now there’s Spotify but, back then, mixtapes were the ultimate expression of the high-voltage, gloriously unreasonable teenage brain. They represented hinterland (“This is who I am and I should probably apologise for that”); dexterity (finger poised to turn the record button on and off at the right moment); criminality (if home taping was killing music, we all had blood dripping from our hands); frustration (your mum boiling a kettle halfway through a track); and, of course, romance: the giving/receiving of a mixtape was the supreme heartfelt gesture, the sonnet of its time, albeit one that sometimes ended in heartbreak and pettiness: “I don’t like you any more. Give me my tape back.” Mixtapes allowed music fans to be their own superstar DJs and, crucially, they were all about autonomy. You could slip a tape into your machine of choice (tinny tape recorder, dinky Walkman, full-throated ghetto blaster) and go wandering, anywhere you liked. In this way, the mixtape was as portable as a good book. If you got it right, it was equally inspiring, an anthology of sound.
My efforts to 'insert' the link into this post, don't seem to be working, so meantime
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/13/thank-you-for-music-mr-ottens-nothing-will-ever-top-mixtape

Friday, May 10, 2019

Burt Bacharach muses on politics

He adored Dusty, drove Cilla to exhaustion and had so many hits he lost count. Now, the 90-year-old says it’s time to get political

Sunday, December 9, 2018

A ranking of 100 — yes, 100 — Christmas songs An opinion piece by Alexandra Petri Columnist for the Washington Post December 7
If you are on the Internet long enough, there comes a year when you will be forced to rank something. Now it is my time. So I am taking the liberty of going through the 100 holiday songs being foisted upon us everywhere and ranking them from Most Especially Heinous to Best. This is probably a good idea, and I feel fit and confident! I bet this will be an easy, pleasant process. I’m amazed I haven’t already compiled several lists just like this!

100.“Little Drummer Boy.” My hatred for this song is well-documented. I think it is because the song takes approximately 18 years to sing and does not rhyme. The concept of the song is bad. The execution of the song is bad. There is not even an actual drum in the dang song, there is just someone saying PA-RUM-PA-PUM-PUM, which, frankly, is not a good onomatopoeia and probably is an insult to those fluent in Drum. I cannot stand it. Nothing will fix it, even the application of David Bowie to it. Every year I say, “I hate this song,” and every year people say, “Have you heard David Bowie’s version?” Yes. Yes, I have. It is still an abomination.

and so Alexandra Petri continues her wry look at her tastes in Christmas Music

I'm surprised at her ranking Dominic The Donkey so high on her list

5. “Dominick the Donkey.” Jiggity-jig! Hee haw! Hee haw! Now I am beginning to see that there is a problem with this list, which is that my taste is very strong and very bad, but I really like this song about a donkey. I love, as a genre, songs that try very hard to make a new seasonal figure happen. This song was like, “I see you, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and I raise you *apparently pulling several names and modifiers from a hat* Dominick, the Italian Christmas Donkey!” These songs always create a problem for their character to solve, or some magic, and I love, too, how prosaic the problem is that Dominick resolves: The reindeer can’t do hills! All hills? No, just Italian hills! Great! More of this, please. Also love the overlap between this song and “Blade Runner.” Not a lot of Christmas songs can pull off what “Dominick the Donkey” does. I am all in on “Dominick the Donkey.” I am a lot of fun on car rides, as I bet you can tell.
4. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” This song has always read as passive-aggressive to me, and I find that enjoyable.
3. “Underneath the Tree.” I wish we lived in a world where one of our biggest complaints, as a society, was that no song since “All I Want for Christmas Is You” has been added to the Christmas canon. This should be a BIG complaint! (Also, what a world that would be! No Islamic State!) I think “Underneath the Tree” deserves to be added to the canon. Three reasons: Kelly Clarkson is great; it hits all the Christmas bases in a quick, efficient list (“You’re here, where you should be. / Snow is falling, and the carolers sing. … Presents, such a beautiful sight!”); and it slaps! Let it into the canon!
2. “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” My spouse disagrees that the tune of this song is good. He says it is too whimsical. Well, I am 99 items into the list, and there is no turning back now. Unlike other holiday songs, which are saccharine at best and lachrymose at worst, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” is just a man facing insult after insult from a deep bass voice with no reference to Christmas whatsoever. It is a welcome reprieve. I am correct to put it here.
1. “Good King Wenceslas.” This is a GREAT song. I never tire of hearing about the only semi-impressive good deeds of this medieval monarch. He made the sod slightly warm! Hooray! Good for you, King Wenceslas! All the rhymes work! Every word is satisfying to sing! WENCESLAS! ON THE FEAST OF STEPHEN! DEEP AND CRISP AND EVEN! What a rollicking, hearty song. WENCESLAS! All songs should be like this. I wish we sang this song year-round.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Jane Bikin updates Serge Gainsbourg

An interesting read, see this link from the BBC

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How is it that the song Moon River became associated with Andy Williams?

With the death of Andy Williams, BBC radio were referring to Andy being remembered for Moon River and that he performed the song at the 1962 Oscar ceremony.
Online BBC says ... He was best known for the song Moon River, the Oscar-winning song featured in the film Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Wikipedia says .. Williams owned the Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri, named after the song "Moon River", with which he is closely identified.
From what I remember Andy's version was an album cut, the hit singles belonged to Danny Williams in the UK and Jerry Butler in the US?
How is it that the song Moon River became associated with Andy Williams?
Going to the guy who has done the research on what records sold in N.Z. before our chart system got more organised and published, I asked Mark Matheson how did Andy's version do in N.Z.?
Very well, said Mark, It was the flip side to Can’t Get Used To Losing You.
Was played well and the album sold in the thousands.
All three versions sold well here. His would probably the best remembered now I would think as the other two faded out of sight in New Zealand.
He also had huge hits earlier here with “Butterfly” “Lips Of Wine” “I Like Your Kind Of Love” “Lonely Street” “Hawaiian Wedding Song” & “The Village Of St Bernadette” etc.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Engelbert comes second last

Eurovision ends in Swedish win and humiliation for Engelbert Humperdinck UK comes second to last as British fans question wisdom of entering septuagenarian crooner in this year's contest The song sounded OK - maybe not great but not terrible on the Graham Norton Show