The Days Before Digital Audio

I hope everyone was lucky enough to enjoy a long holiday weekend like I was able to. My wife and I spent five days in glorious Austin, Minnesota. It was a fun time-- spending time with family, eating lots of turkey, and providing a good amount of simpleprop fodder. To wit:

I don't know about you, but I still have many boxes at my parents' house. I still don't have enough room at my house to store all of the crap I accumulated during the first twenty years of my life. My parents try to make me feel guilty about it. It rarely works.

While at home this past weekend, I again got the request to take all of the boxes in my bedroom closet up to my house. I gave my standard "Where would I put it" excuse, and went off to eat more turkey. Then I started to wonder... what exactly do I still have in my bedroom closet? Is it anything I care about?

I opened my closet and removed the first box I could see-- scrawled across the top in green marker was "TAPES - 8/97". Eeeek. I not only forgot that I had an entire ream paper box full of tapes, I had forgotten that tapes even existed. Didn't you? When's the last time you actually listened to one of these things?

After peering at a few titles, I decided the best way to deal with the embarrassment was to share it. With you. Hence, a random sampling of the tapes I grew up with...

Public Enemy, Fear Of A Black Planet

It's an innocent enough start. I remember listening to this in ninth grade, walking home from school. I went through a rap "phase" in 1989-1990. Pretty ironic, really-- middle class caucasian kid in the Midwest listening to how brothers are gonna work it out, being welcomed to the terrordome, and learning how to fight the power. Hell, I even remember having a P.E. poster in my room. I really had no idea what was going on in the world. Don't ask me to explain what message Chuck D. was trying to convey-- I can't do nothin' for ya, man.

Paula Abdul, Forever Your Girl

She's a cold-hearted snake.

I'll be the first to admit, I thought Paula Abdul was as hot as the sun. She danced her way into my heart in the "Straight Up" video-- even though I knew she was Arsenio's fly girl. I even stayed true during that "dance-with-a-rapping-animated-cat" phase. That got ugly. How can anyone put up with an animated rapping cat?

Roxette, Joyride

I was convinced when I heard "Fading Like A Flower" for the first time in 1991 that it would go down as the greatest song in the history of time. Guess I misfired on that one. I still enjoyed the Swedish power duo called Roxette, also finding 1988's Look Sharp in my stash. After looking at the tracklist on Joyride, I actually could see myself listening to this tape today. Now if I could only find something to play it on... OH-- special note. If you ever find yourself playing Super Mario Brothers 2 on the Nintendo and are doing the casino-like option to gain extra lives, tap the "A" button to the beat of "Joyride"-- invincible Luigis!

Vanilla Ice, Cool As Ice Soundtrack

Too cold, too cold.

Ooof. The first one where I won't respect myself in the morning. Don't pretend that you didn't like "Ice Ice Baby" when it came out in 1990-- everyone did. However, not everyone carried this obsession a bit too far-- not only buying Vanilla's original tape but also the soundtrack to the critically, uh, acclaimed Cool As Ice. I only saw it once, it wasn't very remarkable. But I got the soundtrack anyway. Oh, and the unofficial biography. Now THERE'S a simpleprop article-- especially the hip-hop dictionary in the back.

The KLF, The White Room

You may not know it by the title, but I'm guessing you know the song. KLF IS GONNA ROCK YA! Early 1992, synthesized... a catchy but strange song. I bought both the single and the entire tape, if that tells you anything. An odd note-- on the tape, Tammy Wynette duets with The KLF on "Justified and Ancient." Very wierd.

Tiffany, Tiffany

Shut it. I was eleven.

Bell Biv DeVoe, Poison

That girl is poison.

Damn, Gina. Why is it that half of the tapes I'm finding are either R&B or rap? Anyway, this tape got a lot of play freshman year of high school. I actually listened to this while reading "To Kill A Mockingbird" for my ninth-grade English class. That may explain why I got nothing out of it.

MC Skat Kat, The Adventures of MC Skat Kat and The Stray Mob

Oooooops. Forget that comment above.

Bobby Brown, Don't Be Cruel

Where's Whitney?

This tape was my first purchase with my confirmation money back in 1989. Isn't there some sort of commandment against that? There should be. I wanna rock witcha? Please. Don't be cruel.

Rob Base and D.J. E-Z Rock, It Takes Two

Another in a long series of tapes bought for one song. Sing it with me! "I wanna rock right now / I'm Rob Base and I came to get down / I'm not internationally known / But I'm know to".. Forget it.

Billy Joel, Storm Front

Bill, I believe this is killing me.

Remember when I thought I could pick out future #1 hits? I also thought "That's Not Her Style" would be the greatest song of 1989. Don't think it ever got released. This tape also featured "We Didn't Start The Fire"-- that annoying "Harry Truman Doris Day Red China Johnny Ray" song. The only good thing that came from this song was a version called "We Love Barney Fife," coined by the Mason City CBS affiliate that broadcast "Andy Griffith" reruns when I was younger. Good stuff.

The Jerky Boys, The Jerky Boys

Were these guys ever funny? In case you don't know them, they would call up businesses and pretend to be someone else, then record the conversations. Ha.. ha.. ha. Must've had a hold on me, I bought this and the sequel. How much disposable income did I have when I was sixteen, anyway?

Anyway, that's a little glimpse into me as a teenager. Scary stuff. I didn't even delve into the stuff I put onto mix tapes. Looking at my music collection, you'd think I'd be a much more urban guy than I am. If anyone wants to borrow World Power by SNAP, Pornograffitti by Extreme or True Blue by Madonna, just let me know. Okay?? I'll be expecting to hear from you soon.



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