Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Tribute To Quack's Cassette Collection

Fucking Quack, man - that guy doesn’t throw anything out. If you look in his family room in one of those Rubbermaid cabinets, I think they’re still there: 3 or 4 cases of cassettes, each meticulously labelled in red ink in that all caps printing he learned in high school drafting class.  Each cassette was numbered, with the bands’ names on the binding of the cassette; the band and LP name on the cassette itself.  The organization would make a librarian shed tears of joy.  All most all of those fuckers were TDK SA-90 High Bias cassettes, (He later switched to Maxell XII) the VU levels carefully set before vinyl was transferred to tape.  

But let me be clear: this collection - this archive - informed my tastes in music more than perhaps anything else in my life.  It opened my eyes and blew apart my brain.  First, there’s the diversity:  Dire Straits cassettes rest peacefully along with Dow Jones and the Industrials cassettes.  Wait - what’s that next to the Sex Pistols?  Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper?  Maybe the Tubes?  Is there a better way to enjoy Rush than with a Minutemen chaser?  So many genres and geographical regions covered.  So much rock n’ roll/Celtic folk/local music/hardcore/Tom Burris/sounds from the hearts of space to digest.

This is before the Internet - you weren’t getting recommendations from an algorithm. There was no “All Songs Considered” and no one was quoting lyrics on Facebook that made you curious to look into the quoted artist more.  (I’m just kidding.  That doesn’t happen anyway.)   You had to work really hard to amass the crazy shit in this collection.  You had to be open minded.  You had to have an older brother in college pipe lining this stuff back to you (check!).  You had to have a fiercely independent local record store with talkative but knowledgeable clerks manning the cash register (check!).  You had to have a yearning to know the world outside of Anderson - and Quack had all of these things- check, check and check.

The quest for new music can backfire for sure.  Quack’s cassette collection houses such duds as Todd Rundren’s band Utopia, as well as Rick Derringer and Carmine Appice’s band DNA.  (Get it?  “Derringer ‘n Appice”?  DnA?)  Say what you want about Sham 69, but I think there’s a great reason they never really caught on in the U.S.  (They suck.)  I should probably mention the Vapors and Big Country, but the fact of the matter is that I kinda like both of them. Quack can be forgiven that his cosmopolitan musical tastes lead to such lapses in judgement -  we all know hindsight is 20/20.  

Indeed, Quack’s cassette collection is party tested, surviving many vacation trips and late night benders.  Heck, it’s even been puked on and survives to this day.  And because Quack had a pretty good handle on local bands, we took our party and our money to their gigs.  We bought their cassettes at shows, we mingled with like minded folks.  We were the fucking corndogs of most gigs, but we were openly accepted in what was then an underground culture, even if we didn’t look the part.  That was important to me as I often didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere else outside of my family.  

My brother Quack and I have listened to those tapes countless times.  Even music I didn’t like at first sank in after multiple listenings.  It’s hard to believe now there was a time when I hated the Minutemen.  I owe it to Quack (and by extension, Bill) for laying my musical foundation.  I hope that he will accept this tribute as a sincere, heartfelt “thanks”.

1 comment:

  1. Quack has more than Rush, The Police, and Dwight Yokam in his collection?