I’ve been recording my vinyls onto tape. That’s because the CD player in my car doesn’t work, so I always just hooked up a portable CD player into the tape deck with a tape adapter. Then I bequeathed an iPod from a friend when he got a new one.
Last week, or maybe the week before, the portable CD player and iPod both stopped working. I don’t think it was on the same day, but pretty close.
So until I get the built-in CD player fixed, which might be covered under some esoteric insurance policy, I’ll be listening to tapes. I grabbed up all my good tapes I have left and have been pretty disappointed with most of what I’ve found at thrift stores in the last few weeks.
Tapes are pretty short. A lot of them have lost that little cloth-like square that goes under the very bottom of the cassette and they squeak horribly, making them unlistenable like fingernails scraping across the dashboard.
I’ve listened to the same 15 or 20 tapes at least once, and some twice already.
So I’ve started recoding CDs and vinyls to blank tapes. I have to sit there and listen to the whole thing as it’s recording in my room, so I probably won’t want to listen to those records in the car anytime soon.
The problem is cassette tapes are only 30 minutes on each side. So I’m pulling together albums, EPs, best of collections and any other music on one disc that are either 30 minutes or an hour.
If an album is 30 minutes I can fit one on each side of a tape. The problem with hour-long albums is the song in the middle is going to get cut in half when the tape flips.
While recording vinyl to tape you have to pay attention so you can stop the tape and flip the record to record the second side.
But damn, it’s fun. I’ve also been making mixtapes – with real tapes. I really like picking up whatever records are lying around, picking some songs and making them fit together. It just feels like a more personal mix when you sit there an watch the records spin as you record them from a round disc of hard plastic onto a thin strip of fragile plastic.
It’s amazes me more than any CD or MP3. I don’t need a computer to do this (except for the stopwatch, but if I had a stopwatch, I wouldn’t need the computer at all. It’s to time each side to make sure I don’t run out of tape in the middle of a song. That would be a horrible tease.
I’ve found that you can’t use 90 minute tapes in car tape players because they get stuck.
So I’m scouring my collection, using iTunes and allmusic.com to look at lengths of albums. Most vinyls have the song length next to each song, but not how long each side of the album is.
One my friends used to listen to Bookends every day on his ride to work, which was exactly 30 minutes, exactly the length of that album. I need to pickup some Minutemen albums, which can be as short as 15 minutes.
Here is a list of albums that I have, in no particular order, that are 30 minutes or less:
The Clientele – Minotuar (26:47)
Tim Hardin – One (27:10)
The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night (30:06)
Nick Drake – Pink Moon (28:22)
Simon & Garfunkel – Parsley, Sage Rosemary and Thyme (27:51)
Simon & Garfunkel – Bookends (29:13)
The Descendents – Everything Sucks (28:20)
Emitt Rhodes – Mirror (27:31) I only have this on vinyl and have never seen it on CD
Buddy Holly – The “Chirping” Crickets (28:27)
Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline (26:48)
The Byrds – Notorious Byrd Brothers (28:28)
Albums I don’t have that are under 30 minutes:
The Ramones – Ramones (28:53) (why don’t I have this?)
Credence Clearwater Revival – Green River (28:47)
The Rolling Stones – December’s Children (29:04)
Aretha Franklin – Lady Soul (28:41)
Serge Gainsbourg – History de Melody Nelson (27:57) (also one of the coolest album covers of all time)
Here is a list of albums that are an hour or less:
Miles Davis – Round About Midnight (58:15)
Howlin’ Wolf – His Best: Chess 50th Anniversary Collection (55:42)
Bob Dylan – Love and Theft (57:25)
Wilco – Summerteeth (60:04)