September 15, 2010

My Punk Rock Tape, ca. 1978

I used to have a cassette tape of songs recorded from the radio (from late night punk/new wave themed shows on AOR stations, college radio, and Dr. Demento -- along with the "imports" bin at the Columbus Tower Records location and Trouser Press, that was my punk rock eduction right there.) I played the tape till it broke, and then it continued playing in my mind (till it broke.)

The song above was the first song on it. I didn't know, at the time, that the second song was "The Drawback" by Joy Division from a bootleg of the abandoned RCA recording, but I know it now. Also there was: "Gary Gilmore's Eyes," (what I believe was) the Booji-boy version of Devo's "Mongoloid," the Clash's version of "Police and Thieves," "My Girlfriend is a Rock," "We Make a Noise" by the Leyton Buzzards, a Buzzcocks song or two, "Sonic Reducer," "Shot by Both Sides," "Cherry Bomb," "I Live off You" by X-ray Spex, "The American in Me," "Emergency Cases," "Sick on You," "I Got My Cock in My Pocket" from Metallic KO, a really catchy Mutants song I can still hum but have never been able to locate since, the Cortinas' "Fascist Dictator," and a song by the Nuns that I always thought was "A Little Masturbation" but learned was actually "Mental Masturbation" when I interviewed them during one of their comeback attempts on my own radio show years later. There was also the Street Band's "Toast," and what I thought was a really cool song that began "one two three go" and rhymed that with "ego." I've never been able to locate that either. Sound familiar to anyone?

My method was to press play at the beginning of each song played on the radio, hoping it would be good, and rewinding if it turned out not to be, so the songs were separated by the loud shuffly noise caused by doing that (because I didn't always use the pause-record method like I should have.) Most of the songs had bits of other songs at the beginning and end from the segues. All of these features are still very much present when the songs play in my head. To this day, if I hear "Mongoloid" without a big snare roll starting during the fade out and cutting off with a guy going "waaaah" followed by a tape head smother-y sound that lasts several seconds, it just sounds wrong. The quality really varied, too, because though some were recorded from a tape deck directly connected a stereo, many were also added by playing friends' similarly-compiled tapes and holding our two portable cassette players up against each other, resulting in a muffled, distorted, and sometimes warped sound, along with some occasional background noise as well. That's another thing that still happens when these songs "play" in my head.

I wish I still had that tape.

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Posted by Dr. Frank at September 15, 2010 05:09 PM | TrackBack