Why aren’t cassettes collectible?

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This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 3rd May 2011.

When it comes to music, many people have an affinity for vinyl. The gatefold sleeve is the perfect size to appreciate the cover artwork and design. The music somehow sounds more alive to the ears. And halfway through the album, you get to have a short intermission as you turn the record over.

For me though, growing up in the late seventies and eighties, the music format of my childhood was the cassette. There certainly was a record player at my home in Olola Avenue but placing the needle on the record was all a little too challenging for my coordination at the time. Playing records at the wrong speed was amusing for a while. Everything played too fast sounded like The Chipmunks, with the exception, of course, of The Chipmunks.

History has shown that cassettes were anything but collectable. They were small and cheap looking. Their size reduced any fantastic album art into a postage stamp and they tended to warp into a twisted mess when left in the sun on the dashboard on a hot summer day. And every now and then, the tape player would decide to eat the cassette, spilling the precious brown stringy contents of Through the Roof ’83 everywhere.

There are several notable cassettes that I remember fondly from my childhood. Despite my assertion that tapes aren’t collectible, I still have these gems packed safely aware somewhere. I’d love to update them to CD but so far I am yet to find them anywhere. I can’t enjoy the cassettes either because, just like a VHS player, I don’t have a tape deck anymore.

Magic Monkey was a soundtrack album to accompany the classic ABC series Monkey Magic. Released in 1978, it features the music of the Japanese band Godiego. My favourite tracks were the closing credit song, Gandhara, and the catchy theme song. I still can recite every word of the title sequence monologue. “In the worlds before monkey…” I’ve seen no sign of this album on CD even though the complete Monkey Magic series has been released on DVD.

The Disco craze in the late seventies didn’t last long. In fact, it came and went faster than The Village People movie, Can’t Stop the Music, could be written, filmed and released. But that’s another column, plus I own the soundtrack on CD. I may regret admitting that. Disco still managed to trickle down to children’s records and that brings me to two cassette classics.

Mickey Mouse Disco was released in 1979. It sold two million copies at the time, peaking at 35 in the US charts. Featuring vomit inducing disco versions of Disney staples such as Chim Chim-Cheree and It’s a Small World, it is pure saccharine. I’d love to cruise down Summer Street with my windows down pumping this album out. Alas, it is out of print in all physical formats.

Not wanting to miss out on the Disco dollars, the Children’s Television Workshop (and the letter C) released Sesame Disco in 1979 as well. Featuring Disco Frog, sung my Kermit the Frog and the English language destroying Me Lost Me Cookie at the Disco sung by Cookie Monster, the album is a hoot and now impossible to find. Me miss me album of Disco.

My final MIA album is Father Abraham and the Smurfs. Unleashed upon the world in 1977, selling half a million copies, this album pairs the titular blue creatures with bearded Dutch singer Pierre Kartner. The Smurf Song from the album went to number one in sixteen countries, but my favourite track is Smurfing Beer (you don’t get drunk and it isn’t dear).

I’d also like to mention that there are several Young Talent Time albums on my must find list as well as two classics where the casts of A Country Practice and Neighbours attempt to sing popular songs, but I don’t want anyone to think I have bad taste in music.


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Wow, seems like I’m not the only one with the Monkey Magic OST on cassette. Found it during a house move and was wondering whether it is worth anything…sadly seems very unlikely.

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