Tag Archives: cassette player

July 19th 1975

“At work sold a pair of Koss phones for £39 and a cassette player for £16. Extra £2.75. Got Transformer from Virgin”

As I remember, headphones by Koss were considered quite high-class and sought-after back in the seventies. 39 quid for a pair – the cost of (in my teenage mind) several albums – does seem a lot of money, especially when that cassette player I mention cost less than half the price?!

My sales floor efforts bumped my wages up by an extra £2.75 though and that was certainly not to be sneezed at.

It looks like £2.75 which I immediately went and blew on Lou Reed’s classic 1972 “Transformer” LP. Result!

“Transformer” was Lou Reed’s second solo album since breaking up the influential Velvet Underground, and in my opinion it is head and shoulders the very finest of his extensive recorded output.

The album was co-produced by David Bowie and his band mate (in the Spiders from Mars), guitarist Mick Ronson. Many people don’t realise that the utterly beautiful strings segment on “Perfect Day”  were arranged by Ronson and that he was the primary musician on many of the tracks, contributing not just guitar, but keyboards, woodwind and backing vocals.

Side one kicks off in great style with the powerful “Vicious“, complete with its heavily fuzzed guitar sound and strange sing along chorus…
Vicious
hey, you hit me with a flower
You do it every hour
oh, baby you’re so vicious

Andy’s Chest” – it’s title reputedly coming from the scars Lou’s mentor Andy Warhol received after being attacked and stabbed – was originally scheduled to appear on the (never released) fourth studio album from the Velvets. It’s a peculiar ballad, neither a straight forward love song or a parody, but it does contain some of the weirdest ‘relationship’ lyrics ever with…
If I could be any one of the things
in this world that bite
instead of an ocelot on a leash
I’d rather be a kite
and be tied to the end of your string
and flying in the air, babe, at night

Perfect Day” is one of the immense songs on the album and something which will stand the test of time for several more decade to come. It’s about as lush as any song can be. The low-key vocal delivery by Reed contradicts the sheer optimism that the lyrics suggest – “it’s such a perfect day, I’m glad I spent it with you” – but the whole thing works to such a degree that it’s impossible to ignore, those previously mentioned strings mere icing on a very tasty cake indeed,

The song is so strong that 25 years after it’s release  it was used by the BBC (to promote the corporations diverse music output) in a promotional video which catapulted it back into the charts, only this time Reed shared screen time and vocal duties with musical legends such as David Bowie, Bono, Dr John, Shane MacGowan, Tammy Wynette and Tom Jones!

Intrigued?… check it out…

Hangin’ ‘Round” is the odd man out of Side 1 (i.e. the weakest moment, albeit another collection of peculiar lyrics) before we get to the main event, the classic “Walk on the Wild Side”.

Walk on the Wild Side” ranks amongst the very best of all the Seventies glam anthems. Its subject matter – transexuality, prostitution, oral sex and drugs – didn’t stop it from reaching #16 on the US charts and #10 in the UK and remaining a public favourite some 40 years later.

Trivia champs may wish to store away this nugget of information: the sax solo is performed by Ronnie Ross who had previously taught David Bowie to play the instrument when Bowie was just a kid

Side two commences with “Make Up“, another nod to transexuality, the lyric
Now we’re comin’ out
Out of our closets
Out on the streets
Yeah, we’re comin’ out

something of a giveaway

Satellite of Love” – a paean to extreme jealousy – is another Lou Reed song that dates back to his time with the Velvet Underground and was actually recorded by the band for inclusion on their “Loaded” album.

Wagon Wheel” was, is, and will always remain, the weakest cut on the album, whilst the short and bizarre “New York Telephone Conversation” ranks amongst my faves. The drugs influence is definitely there with
I was sleeping, gently napping, when I heard the phone
Who is on the other end talking, am I even home
Did you see what she did to him, did you hear what they said
Just a New York conversation, rattling in my head

I’m So Free” is a catchy rock number before the album gets wrapped up with the sublime “Goodnight Ladies“, another love’s lost ballad that is infused with not just anger and regret but Reed’s ever-present wicked sense of humour.

“Transformer” is another one of those album I know inside/out and back to front. I’ll be honest though when stating I pretty much ignored all of Lou Reed’s subsequent recorded output until his excellent “New York” album in 1989, but even as good as it was I feel it still pales in comparison to this 1972 masterwork. It’s dark and angry all wrapped up in a collection of perfect pop songs. If you don’t already own it, I can only recommend you hunt it down and buy it now.

I do remember playing both sides of this album over and over – and over – again when I bought it.  The LP I bought today in 1975 skipped on “I’m so Free” – I do remember that – but it didn’t distract from what I thought – and still think – is a fabulous and utterly timeless piece of work.

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June 14th 1973

“Went up Nigs and saw his cassette player – quite smart”

It seems just so very archaic now to be talking about “cassette players” in such eager terms.

To my mind – and moreso than vinyl – they appear to be such a terrible music-carrying format. Hissy, no high-end, no low-end and prone to stretching.

But let’s not forget that cassettes brought a lot more music to the masses as well as kicking off the whole ‘personal stereo’ phenomenon, that started with the Sony Walkman in 1979 and culminated in the current ‘almost born with ear buds in their ears’ iPod generation.

I have no idea what the cassette deck was that Nig got except I can guess that back then I would have been jealous of it. Reading all those hi-fi mags had made me something of a fanatic, if not an early consumer of the products. I know it will all change somewhen though… when I had saved up enough money.

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May 3rd 1973

“Gra back at school – bought 3 cassettes off him. Went up his ouse after skool – saw his cassette player… bloody sod!”

A-ha… so, the mystery of what I was going to buy off of Gra is finally solved.

As I have mentioned before Gra used to travel the world with his Dad, and often brought back dodgy bootleg cassettes from (I think it was) Hong Kong.

I evidently bought three of them, failing to mention what titles I added to my collection, not realising that without those names my online blog some 36 years later would seem VERY boring indeed! How dare me!

As is now, Hong Kong was also home to the ‘dodgy’ knock-off hi-fi sellers of the world, so he must also have brought back a new cassette deck – of which I appeared just a tad jealous.

Unlikely that the player was a Nakamichi as shown in the photo above. More like a knockoff brand like Nookamoochi or Nagasaki.

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April 16th 1973

“Went up Trevs, Andy V’s & then  to Mark’s – saw his new cassette player – quite smart!” / “Dave C gave me Phantas back” / “12 miles”

As both today’s AND yesterday’s diary entries seem to suggest “smart!” was obviously a word I was prone to using a LOT?!!

I cycled 12 miles on this date in 1973.

God I hate being old.

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January 27th 1973

“Focus on in Concert! – REMEMBER!” – taped it” / “Taped M.waves for Rob” / “Put 8 bob into savings” / “Went up trevs and got sleeping bag for next week”

I wonder if the “Focus – In Concert” recording was on the radio or on the TV? Whichever, I know I would have been sat with my tape recorder’s microphone carefully placed in front of the speaker and that I would have kept mindfully quiet throughout the proceedings so as to not undermine the performances.

Not sure I could do that now – being somewhat more fidgety and impatient. (i.e. “Old”)

Another 8 bob – eight shillings – into my savings account. That’s *ahem* 40p (or 58¢) in ‘today’s money’. Woooooooooooh!!!

Yes, we never owned sleeping bags in our house. Probably because I hated even the IDEA of camping out (I still do). I always had to borrow one, carefully ‘disinfecting’ it before and after use.

I do however know that this sleeping bag would become particularly significant in a few days time!

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September 23rd 1972

“Stoke 5, City 1 / Went up Gra’s in afternoon – saw his cassette player – Wow!”

Whilst City  get tromped on away from home I evidently suffer “tape player envy”

As I recall, Gra(ham) travelled quite a bit with his parents (was his Dad a pilot or something?) and during a recent family holiday to nowhere less swish than Hong Kong he had picked up this “wow” cassette player.

Naturally, I can remember scant little about it now, other than I seem to recall it was all silver and black, quite a large piece of kit – at least for a cassette player – and had loads of knobs and switches on it. At any rate, enough knobs and switches to turn a young boy’s head.

I also vaguely recall that Graham also picked up quite the number of dodgy ‘bootleg’ cassettes along with the player, more distinctly remembering that amongst them was Deep Purple’s “Concerto for Group and Orchestra” and “Fireball” albums.

I bet they sounded great on his “wow” cassette player.

The bastard.

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