"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."
-Rob Gordon, 2000
-Rob Gordon, 2000
I received my first radio with a cassette player in the Summer of 1983. Up until that point I was using my parents tape recorder and holding it up to a radio to record songs. My Sears AM/FM single cassette player with one speaker and adjustable antenna was something I could call my own.
I loved K-Tel compilation records, so I don't think it's a coincidence that, as their musical product line slowed down in 1985, I would fill that void with my own mixes. I would get a 3 pack of cheap Irish tapes and anxiously await a favorite song on the radio, and as quickly as I could, press the play & record buttons at the same time. That was the beginning of my mixtape collection. Unfortunately I recorded over the music on those tapes over and over until the tape broke so I don't have any aural documents of that time. It wasn't until the Fall of 1985 that it even occurred to me to record a tape and leave it be. Once I did, I traded in my Sears model for a portable Magnavox with high-speed dubbing and eventually asked for a Fisher dual cassette console with high-speed dubbing, radio and record player for Christmas.
When the mid-90s hit, I shifted from recording current Top 40 music to creating more of a retro mixtape from the 70s and early 80s, the kinds of compilations that Rhino Records was putting out, but much deeper and without the record label red tape. I also evolved from recording off of the radio to track down and recording the latest 45s or 12-inch records to cuts from a cassette album or single to eventually songs from CD singles or albums. This was my experiment in learning about sound quality and as the tapes increased in length from C60 to C90 to C120, how to program a perfect side and maximize the most amount of time.
The sentimental fool in me saved that collection of tapes recorded from 1985 to 1993. As I reminisced over my collected works of sweat and strategy I realized that with these tapes I was planting the seeds of my radio show, The UnCola. So indulge me as I share that ride with you one normal bias mini-reel at a time...