Saturday, 9 October 2010

Super Ferric AGFA's , Home Taping and Tony Blackburn

I'm finally getting around to transferring much of my old tape collection to MP3 - a job I've wanted to do for years. Not so much for the quality of my tape recordings but more for the nostalgic glance back and preservation.

I grew up with the tape recorder quite a bit in the late 70s. At first I'd record my voice and make up my own shows - thankfully, I quickly got this out of my system as I actually hate the sound of my voice on playback.

I then progressed to taping television theme tunes, television programme soundtracks (mainly Doctor Who) and occasional songs performed on TV - this was all very crude with a built in microphone which caused the quality to frequently vary. I was grateful when in the early 80s my family got a Hi-Fi with a built in cassette recorder allowing me to record directly onto cassette from radio or vinyl.

Tape quality in this era was frequently dubious (and expensive) - I remember buying several tapes at that time that would have rather gone through a mincing machine than have anything recorded on them.

Recording the Top 40 charts on a Sunday was a great pastime - carefully trying to cut out Tony Blackburn's chatter between songs - and failing dismally as he used to chat over the end of them! Home taping was apparently killing music... well not if Tony Blackburn had anything to do with it, there are still wonderful examples around the Internet of Tony making these classic interjections...

When I got my own Hi-fi - I progressed to recording Radio One documentaries, particularly those on favourite bands and singers. I still have many of them over 25 years later - though of course with hindsight there's much more I should have recorded.

Woolworths did a great line in packs of five Super-Ferric AGFA's which still play well now, and I'm fascinated as to how well organised this hobby of mine was back then. Yes, I'd painstakingly fill out the track details and make intricately designed cassette covers with any media i could find - I often think the art of the home-made mix-tape was bigger than most people realised!

As college life beckoned - I got quite sloppy with my labelling and a cassette recorder that decided to chomp up further tapes only added to my falling out with the format. This left me with a clutch of unlabelled tapes of all sorts of recordings which I forgot I'd done.

So here I am now - converting old shows to MP3 (along with old albums I've either kept or picked up in charity shops over the years). And as I'm doing this I'm also reassured that I was not alone in my hobby - many people have uploaded recordings of shows they've done over 40 years ago (and in many cases much more credible than mine!). From classic radio comedy (in some cases now lost) to Radio One Breakfast Shows, Pick Of The Pops and John Peel Festive Fifty's. There was probably no other reason to record these at the time other than you could, and we did .

These days, when we are faced with loutish radio presenters and less than inspiring music its good to be reminded of an era when listening to the radio was certainly a pleasurable experience, and you didn't have to worry about finding quality programming on the radio!

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