I was born in 1976. Not long after I bought my very first few LPs to play on the family turntable, I probably got the dream birthday or Christmas present of every MTV-watching pre-teen adolescent in ‘86 or ‘87 suburbia America, a Ghetto Blaster Boom Box, replete with double tape-deck for dubbing, am/fm radio and antennae, and probably a button for “Turbo Bass”. The Boom Box did several things for me. It gave me the ability to listen to music by myself, to tune into and to record to cassette Casey Kasem’s Top 40 every Sunday morning, listening to which bands went up or down a few notches in the countdown. I’d keep my own stats and have my finger queued on the record button maybe for a song I didn’t record last week. Why use money to buy the hottest tunes of the day when you could record them right off the radio? I would lay in front of that thing for hours, just right in front of my face, transfixed by the face of it, the glow of the radio dial, all the switches and knobs and buttons, the buttons inside other buttons, watching the teeth of the spinning gear spooling the brown metallic take from one spool to the other through a magnetic reading head …How on earth did thing exactly work?
Another thing the Boombox allowed me to do was to take it, for a summer or two, down to the teenager end of the mall, past the food court, near the Spencers, and in front of the video game arcade, carrying it on my shoulder, haha, wearing some parachute pants, a Member’s Only style jacket with lots of zippers, non-matching Chuck Taylors, a couple of swatches on each wrist, maybe some knock-off red Raybans, some hair spray, and maybe even one silver glove with which I would drag the biggest patch of cardboard me and my pals could get our hands on, upon which we would probably give the most pathetic breakdance performances week after week to the beats of Run DMC, Slick Rick, Afrika Bambaataa, Sugar Hill Gang, Beastie Boys, and to an audience of only ourselves. Those were great summers.
A third thing the boombox allowed me to do was to make many a mixed tape in which I divulged with music my affection for those I admired of the fairer sex, of whom I started to take more notice. There might not be any more accurate or authentic scene in High Fidelity than when John Cuzak’s character Rob Gordon explains the subtle art of the mixtape – “The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.” Maybe my favorite line from the movie.
So why am I talking about cassette tapes and boom boxes? Because last weekend, on my way home from a photoshoot, I visited. for the first time, Tokyo’s famous music and book store that specializes in cassette tapes, Waltz. Nestled deep in the back streets of Nakameguro, I pulled up to its street-level bay doors and was first impressed with such a spacious and nicely laid out shop, with an excellent collection of records taking up about 20% of the shop on the left wall, books taking up another 20% on the right, and tapes, walkmans, and boomboxes taking up the rest in the center. I hadn’t seen so many tapes since probably 1988! So many titles I recognized and that I probably had or borrowed as a kid, and I was just completely overwhelmed with a sense of 80’snostalgia. Yes, though records were my first format, and though I collected many a CD through adolescence and beyond, arguably my most “formative format” was tape. Needless to say, I got bit by the bug, and a new cassette deck might be in my not-so-distant future. I just might have to do it.
After browsing around Waltz, and scoring one modest 7”, I headed off but not before spotting Kelsey and Joseph pictured here, walking out caring branded tote bags filled with some wax and/or tape treasure. I stopped and chatted them up about Tokyo Record Style and they were warm and willing to oblige me.
From Kelsey’s bag, she produced some Japanese titles that she had totally gambled on, not knowing anything about any of them, but just selecting them because they looked interesting, a delightful act that I continue to see through this project …looks like her gamble may have paid off. Let us know Kelsey!
Joseph hesitated to show his scores, mentioning that, as tapes, they might not qualify for Tokyo Record Style. (…an aside: I’m going to assign the “Record” in “Tokyo Record Style” to a more generic meaning of connected to recording that to specifically vinyl discs. A record, in the way I want to use it, can be an LP, EP, 12”, 10”, 7”, 3”, a whole album, a single song, a tape, a reel-to-reel, a studio or field recording (“We cut the record last week”), even a historical record…) ANYWAY, the point is, Joseph, Tapes 100% count, we don’t discriminate in our love for music in all its glorious formats. So let’s see what you got! WHOA!! A whole smorgasbord of excellent titles from Last of the Mohican’s OST, to Lee Scratch Perry! I just bought that Tear for Fears a couple of weeks ago! Now, I’m kinda wishing I’d held out for the cassette! Way to go, Joseph, for throwing down for serious tape. You got me all worked up! Need some tape back in my life!
Thanks, Waltz, and thanks, Kelsey and Joseph! More Tokyo Record Style to come!
五輪真弓 (Mayumi Itsuwa) – 昨日までの想い出 (Memories of Yesterday)
Label: UMI (2) – SOLB 49-UM
Format: Vinyl, 7″, 45 RPM, Promo
Released: Jul 1, 1973
Alice – Alice I
Label: Express – ETP-8203
Series: New Folk & Rock
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Stereo, Gatefold
Released: Sep 5, 1972
Genre: Folk, World, & Country
Kiyoshi Hasegawa – 遠く離れたおまえに (To You Who are Far Away)
Label: Flash Records (33) – SKS-1030
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Flexi single
Genre: Rock, Folk, World, & Country
Style: Folk, Acoustic
The Doors – Morrison Hotel
Label: Elektra – 442 080
Format: Cassette, Album, Reissue, Stereo, Dolby
Style: Blues Rock, Psychedelic Rock
Trevor Jones / Randy Edelman – The Last Of The Mohicans: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Label: Morgan Creek Records – 2959-20015.0
Format: Cassette, Album
Genre: Classical, Stage & Screen
Style: Soundtrack, Score
The Future Sound Of London – Accelerator
Label: Jumpin’ & Pumpin’ – MC TOT 2
Format: Cassette, Album
Style: Leftfield, Acid House, Techno
Tears For Fears – Songs From The Big Chair
Label: Mercury – MERHC 58
Format: Cassette, Album, Stereo
Style: Synth-pop, New Wave
Lee Scratch Perry & The Upsetters – Return Of The Super Ape
Label: Goldenlane Records – CLO2362, Sexy Baby Records – SBR-1058, Tapehead City – NA
Format: Cassette, Limited Edition, Remastered, Yellow
Released: Mar 20, 2022
Style: Dub, Roots Reggae
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