1986 Tensai International Low Noise C90 Audio Tape

1980s Tensai International Low Noise C90 Audio Cassette

This tape brought back quite a few memories. I’m sure anyone who has recollections of being in, and more specifically joining bands, in the days before home CD burning, will relate to this…

You’d place your ads in the record shops and local studios, desperately trying to attract like-minded musicians, with whom you’d hopefully form a band to end all bands. Then you’d get the calls. Some would be from people even more desperate than you, who didn’t care that you hated every single one of their influences, and still wanted you to team up with them regardless. Others would be from people who were far less desperate, and would pitch their projects on a “This is what I want: take it or leave it” basis. Some callers undersold themselves. Some were so full of crap you wondered why they were ringing you and not reeling off anecdotes on some prime time chat show. But eventually – and I do mean eventually – you’d get that one call from someone who might be compatible. And you’d arrange to meet them. No Internet, no “Yeah, what’s your Twitter and I’ll drop you some links” – just a clumsy introduction in a pub or a crowded town centre. And they’d hand you one of these. A basic audio tape featuring their sacred and beloved demo. That selection of very often badly recorded songs, which they’d played, sung or written, and in which they believed, more than anything else in the world.

This Korean-made Tensai International Low Noise C90 came to me in one of those scenarios – in 1986. I actually picked up so many amateur demos in my searches for musicians, that I’ve completely lost all recollection of who some of those musicians were. Can’t remember names, faces… My mind’s totally blank on some of it, and I do actually have a pretty good memory. Some of the music’s dreadful, which probably explains why I’ve forgotten it all. I must have met up with these people, taken home their tape, thought to myself: “There is absolutely NO WAY I am standing on a stage and playing that”, then phoned them up, given them a sensitive and tactful rejection speech, and never crossed their path again. Most of the exchanges of tapes probably didn’t get as far as an audition. It cost a lot more to book a rehearsal room for a live audition than to simply swap tapes – hence the tape exchange being the typical first step.

Technically, this tape isn’t the worst of the basic Type 1s in my collection by any means. The music would of course have benefitted from going onto a chrome Type 2. But it would have been a very expensive business giving away a chrome tape every time you exchanged demos with potential bandmates. Virtually all the tapes I picked up (and gave away) in these exchanges were cheap ferrics. So the quality’s poor, but the collection is like a who’s who of unknown mid to late ’80s Birmingham bands. Or at least it would be, if I could remember who any of them were.