2/16/15

Mixtape Monday: 2 Albums on 1 Cassette

Although HERC mainly made mixtapes rather than straight-up album dubs most of the time, he still made more than a couple hundred "2 albums on 1 cassette" tapes.  (Was this what they meant when they said home taping was killing music?)  Though the major labels would have preferred HERC buy not only the vinyl album but also the prerecorded cassette, he only bought the vinyl.  Sometimes he recorded the album in its entirety but most of the time he did not.  By his own admission, HERC has owned less than 10 of the labels pre-recorded tape product through the years.  He just never liked the way they sounded, preferring his own dubs.  Sadly, not many of his straight-up album dubs survived the family's last move - HERC dumped them by choice, holding on to maybe a dozen because of the memories attached to listening to them.  For Christmas 1985, the girl who would become MRS. HERC surprised him with The Beatles "Blue Box", while his friend Steven gifted him a gold brick... of 10 (12?) Maxell XLII-S 90 blank tapes.  Two days after Christmas 1985, HERC put the two gifts together.  Except for a TDK Metal tape of the Purple Rain soundtrack and an equally expensive metal tape of Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon, the seven tapes below are without a doubt the most played cassettes HERC has ever dubbed or owned.
And speaking of Steven, as HERC did a few mixtapes back, he was the master of the "2 albums on 1 cassette" tape. HERC never saw him with a prerecorded tape of any kind. Steven bought vinyl albums and then recorded them to his beloved Maxell blanks.  He listened to the vinyl when he was at home but mostly listened to his tapes, while on the go: in his boombox at work, in his truck's stereo or on his Walkman when he wanted to be left alone.  He recently gave HERC the last two-dozen of these tapes that had somehow survived his many moves and almost a decade in a climate-controlled storage unit.  Most of them feature Steven's physician-like scrawling but three of the 2 on 1 tapes have their j-cards typed up:
The record companies took note of the rising popularity of their cassette product and were constantly looking for ways to sell even more cassettes.  In response to complaints like HERC's, that their tapes sounded inferior, the labels began using higher quality tapes.  In a special supplement from the November 6, 1982 issue of Billboard entitled World Of Cassettes, several marketing executives representing various labels acknowledge the complaint and outline their respective company's response.  A&M announced that they would begin using BASF chromium dioxide tape while Arista rolled out higher quality tapes labelled Qualitape and Capitol began using its XDR (for "extended dynamic range") process to produce "better sound quality."  Notice the labeling (click image to embiggen) at the bottom of each of the following j-cards, one from each company mentioned above.
In that same article, CBS and MCA reaffirmed previously announced plans that they would begin issuing value-priced, 2 catalog albums on 1 cassette tapes from their "top-selling" and "major acts" while WEA announced that their own testing of such a concept had recently concluded in five cities and they would be rolling their Two On One branded tapes out nationally (see full-page ad further down below).  Initially, the WEA 2 on 1s came in colorful though somewhat generic cigarette-style flip top paper cases; within a few months they switched to featuring artwork on j-cards in standard plastic cassette cases.  A&M would follow the three labels above shortly with their own 2 on 1 tapes which they branded TwinTape.  MCA would dub their 2 on 1 tapes Twin Pax. (Billboard 8/28/82)
In a follow-up article in Billboard (2/19/83) titled "Double Cassettes Not Clicking", the focus is on retailer reaction and customer acceptance of the 2 on 1 format and all those interviewed stated that it was "disappointing" or even "pointless" and "redundant" with some expressing concern that they could make higher profits by selling the two albums on the tape individually.  The most vocal complaint from retailers in the article was WEA's initial soft box packaging and cheap looking artwork.  Slowly, over the next few years, the labels began phasing their 2 on 1 programs out, both domestically and internationally (below right is a listing of WEA 2 on 1 tapes from Germany), only to revive them again in the fast-rising CD format of the late Eighties and early Nineties. While HERC never purchased any of the 2 on 1 tapes, he owns more than a few 2 on 1 CDs.  How about you?
For those of you wondering where this week's mixtape is, HERC regrets to inform you that his cassette player stopped working earlier this month.  It is currently in the trunk of the Blueberry, waiting to be admitted to the Stereo Hospital where it will receive treatment from the Stereo Doctors. Depending on how much HERC's much beloved Obamacare kicks in and covers on the cost of treatment, it might be two or even three weeks before regular Mixtape Monday posts resume.  Your positive thoughts and well-wishes are much appreciated in this time of sadness and repair.

thnx to srk for h17 scan 

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