January 14th 1972

“In the evening recorded ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ by Emerson, Lake & Palmer”

Proof, if it were needed, that musical piracy was rife even in the Seventies.

However, this was not your perfect “digital copy” of the 21st Century, but something FAR more rudimentary indeed.

The only record player I had was my parents Dansette, a cream flip-lidded box similar to the kind of thing shown here….

Back in the day, this Dansette felt like one of the very best things on the planet.

That was until one Christmas – probably Xmas Day 1971? – when I was given my Sanyo Solid State M-48M Cassette Tape Recorder.

Precursing the whole “walkman” phenomenon by several years, this tape player was an utter revelation to me, given the fact that I could “move my music around” instead of being glued to my bedroom floor, limited by the length of the power cord on the Dansette. I could sit in the garden in the summer listening to my “sounds” (man), and even take the player to friends homes and subject them to my dubious musical tastes.

Perhaps it is makes me something of a “muppet” to admit I still have that cassette player?! I have hung on to so very little of my “youth” – certainly in terms of possessions – but for whatever reason this little Sanyo has remained with me all these years, even making it across the Atlantic…. in the same tiny leather suitcase as all these diaries!

There it is, in all its groovy REAL leather-cased glory!! In a wonderful nod to minimalism, a single lever on one side of the player controls all the mechanics. Slide up to play, pushing in to fast-forward, slide back to stop and push in for rewind. None of those ‘ugly’ piano keys later cassette recorders used. (Uh-oh, have I become a 70’s tape player snob??)

Recording anything involved plugging in the VERY cool-looking microphone…

… which looks like a perfectly-modelled little speaker stack doesn’t it?

I would place the microphone in front of the integral speaker on the Dansette, set the LP to play, hit the Sanyo’s record button and then….

Sit VERY VERY quietly whilst the record was being recorded, pausing only to hit pause when the vinyl needed to be flipped over.

This form of musical piracy DID have its drawbacks however. There are albums I listen to now – on CD or on my i-Pod – where I STILL expect to hear the faint rustlings of me moving about “quietly” during my original recordings. Or in two notable cases (Family’s “It’s Only a Movie” and Roxy Music’s debut) where I always anticipate hearing the distant “bark” of my mother shouting upstairs ordering me to come down for tea!

It wasn’t therefore the perfect set-up, but it kept me so incredibly involved (and, it has to be said, busy) in recording both albums I owned (as in this case) or borrowing LP’s off of friends – or friends older brothers – to open up my ears to what was available out there.

Yes, even back then I was willing to listen to everything and anything – as I’m sure this blog will testify given a few more entries. There were other drawbacks however….

This tape player came minus a power supply, so I would have to buy batteries. I was so terribly ‘anal’ and meticulous back then, that my dairies (god, this feels so very sad to admit) actually document when I bought batteries, how much they cost me and, importantly, how long each set of four “fatty” batteries lasted!

I’m sure I will further reference this “attention to detail” later on, likewise the true cost of buying the blank cassettes themselves!

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2 Comments

Filed under 1972 Diary Entries

2 responses to “January 14th 1972

  1. christian

    Fantastic. I did the same thing taping records I’d borrow from the library with my little, red hand-held tape recorder that was also kept in a leather case. Mine, however, did not have the snazzy mic.

  2. kcneon

    I am laughing at your battery documentation!

    I caught the recording bug early, too. I remember recording the audio for SNL before we had VCRs.

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