Did that headline get you thinking? It should have! Long ago, teenagers used to gather and listen to 45’s and discover new sounds. Radio stations had program directors who fleshed out the playlists and the DJs would slip in new radical sounds. One DJ actually made his own radio edit of “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow”, prompting Zappa to release it as a single. As technology advances and tape recorders became smaller (reel-to-reel was bulky and cumbersome), cassette tapes became the cheap and easy norm. The mixtape soon followed.
I’m 49 years old now. My generation saw the rise of portable music; cheap blank cassettes were king. My pool of friends had a large combined library of albums on vinyl and prerecorded cassettes. We would trade copies of albums on blank tapes and mixtapes with a song or 2 by new bands we had just discovered, as well as bands we just thought each other might like. I was blown away by some of the stuff I heard for the first time on my cassette Walkman. My musical world exploded at the same time radio stopped playing new sounds. As we know, only 2 or 3 outlets program all radio today. The digital age killed the cassette tape with better sound, but not the idea of the mixtape. Mixtapes gave way to the mix CD, MP3 to the Spotify playlists of today. Digital technology also made recording more accessible to bands giving rise to an explosion of new bands and sounds to dig into.
My friends shoot me a PM on Facebook from time to time with some new band I might like, but it’s kinda rare. I have created my own 21st-century version of the mixtape. I hope others have thought of it as well. With a diverse and very large group of tastes, the Vinyl Addicts Facebook Group is such a rich source of information. Once a week at least, I scroll through the group posts and look for people whose tastes fall within my range. I check out the YouTube links they comment under the albums they are currently spinning that I don’t know. Conversely, I also check out random albums people post that has more than just the band and album title with a picture or posts with lots of comments. Thanks to my new “mixtape” method, I’ve discovered more bands than ever before.
My hope is that others will also see the rich resource vinyl groups can be, and continue to come forward in telling us how they benefit from vinyl groups themselves.
Dig this series? Check out the full archives of Rapid Musical Perspectives with P.S. Idiot, by Andrew Earle, here: https://vwmusicrocks.com/rapid-musical-perspectives-archives/