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Recording a bit of history; MALE BOX with Matt Thomas.

REMEMBER the humble mixtape? The hours you used to spend, painstakingly cutting together the ultimate collection of songs that express exactly how you felt about yourself and the world around you. Remember that? And isn't it a shame that internet music-sharing sites like LastFm and Spotify have ruined the art, making it far too easy, robbing a generation of the chance to develop minute control over the "Record" and "Stop" buttons of a Sanyo boombox? Quite frankly, I'm not bothered about the end of the mixtape and I'm probably the sort of person who should be. I'm a bit sentimental, a bit of a hoarder you see.

Not quite as bad as those shut-in people they eventually find squashed underneath a collapsed pile of completed Puzzles Galore magazines and plastic bags filled with their own toenail clippings.

But in that same spectrum for sure.

Anyway, mixtapes I can take or leave. They are fun admittedly, but tapes aren't even my favourite obsolete format.

That honour goes to the MiniDisc, which appealed to the slightly masochistic streak of perversity at the core of my per-sonalitby being simultaneously easier and more difficult to use than cassettes.

If you recall, or even if you don't, you were able to digitally inscribe the track names on the disk itself, so that they would show up on the LCD screen of whatever device you were using to play the music back.

Brilliant, we all thought, no more having to squeeze the titles onto a little bit of folded card, covered with some sort of sticky plastic skin designed to defeat even the sharpest of ball-point pens.

However, it turned out that we had to input the titles, not with a hand-dandy keyboard, but rather through an arcane and knuckle-knotting manipulation of the players' buttons.

Which was fine, until the time came to make a copy of the first Super Furry Animals EP, the excessively-titled Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (In Space).

Like I said, brilliantly perverse.

Unfortunately the cost of the thing was such that it worked out cheaper to have the piece of music you wanted to hear transcribed onto mile-high sheets of gold and performed by a band consisting of Buddy Holly, Elvis and Jimmy Hendrix, rather listening to it on MiniDisc.

It was always destined to go the way of the wax cylinder and the eight track.

But don't worry, oh fans of unwieldy and staggeringly-pricey ways of releasing music. Truculent Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young has recently released what might be the ultimate mixtape. It's a 10-BluRay-disc collection of his songs, film footage and assorted archive material for a credit crunch-busting (well, if you're Neil Young anyway) pounds 250. And people are buying it!

So, regardless of what some people might think, fans of physically-released music will still be able to get their fix. And if you're that bothered about preserving the noble art of the mixtape, you can buy blank cassettes for a couple of quid off eBay.

Finding anyone who wants to listen to them, however, might be a bit more difficult.'No more having to squeeze the titles onto a bit of folded card in plastic'
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 10, 2009
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