Came across this batch of tapes in the storage room this week. They are a true relic of my early bootleg tape (yes cassette) trading days.
99.9% of my bootleg tapes have covers. There are meticulous lists of the contents and sound grades and locations and even venues if that information was available. At some point I even experimented with cover art… but, these 4 solitary tapes have no covers at all.
These were some of the very first bootlegs I got back in the day. I didn’t have anything to trade, but a guy named Scott to whom I had written to out of the back of Relics magazine had a lot of Hendrix and would trade for blanks.
In this day and age that may need to be explained. Trading for blanks meant that if you had nothing to trade, you could send 2 blank tapes. The trader would keep one for themselves and record your selection from their list on the other and send back to you. It was a pretty cool way to break into bootlegs and I received my first probably 10 to 20 tapes that way.
Lists were very important to keep up to date. If you found someone whom you may want to trade with you would send your list to see if there was anything they wanted to trade for from it, if not, then would they consider trading for blanks.
Now Scott advertised that he had a lot of Hendrix and I was interested. I wrote to him and he sent me his list.
That is a lot of Hendrix for the uninitiated. I spent days pouring over this list and trying to figure out like a tiny little puzzle what I wanted and how to fit it on 4 90 minute cassettes. I mean I could get 4 full shows or several smaller bits.
I found a lot of the little bits intriguing but thought to myself were they all on one set of tapes? Would he have to dub sections of lots of tapes onto my 4? Would it be a giant pain? In the end the intrigue of the little bits won and I created the following list which I sent to Scott along with 8 blank tapes.
I fit all those little bits into a Tetris of minutes to fill each tape. It was crazy. Scott recorded it all and included to my surprise a note that said it was cool to listen to all these as he recorded them for me since it had been a long while since he had heard them. So my conscience was clear.
It was a while before I started making the covers for my bootlegs and by the time I got to these 4 tapes I didn’t know what to do. There was no way I was going to cram all that info onto those j-cards. So, I left them coverless and have forever kept my request list above as my guide to 49, 50, 51 and 52.
Once again, to get all this material, in digital and in a far better and portable format would be the work of a few hours at best. Back in the day though, from requesting Scott’s list, to requesting and sending the blanks and then waiting for them to be returned was a several weeks process.
I was beyond stoked when that package arrived. It was magical.
I don’t know if people still trade tapes, but it was an interesting time in my life that I will never forget. Analog man.