Since I began raiding the ‘junk boxes’ for old audio cassettes to photograph for this blog, I’ve been desperately hoping to find something from the 1960s. I came within a cat’s whisker today, with the discovery of this ITT Polydor Demonstration Musicassette, from 1970. I don’t know how this truly vintage artefact got into my family, but I suspect it had something to do with my Mother’s job in music education. The material pre-recorded onto the tape comes from a variety of 1960s acts, but it’s all ‘easy listening’ – a genre in which my Mom never showed any particular interest. I’m assuming, therefore, she received the cassette as some sort of free giveaway.
Here in the UK, perhaps the best known name of the artists on the tape is that of James Last – traditional big band conductor/leader and purveyor of popular instrumental music. Last secured his own TV series in the UK some time after this cassette was released, but I missed all that and don’t remember hearing about him until the 1980s, when I was at senior school. I remember seeing a sticker in a car window saying: “We appreciate James Last”, and thinking: oh, very posh – music you appreciate, rather than like, dig or whatever. I then went home and asked my parents who he was.
Also featuring on this musicassette are: Ladi Geisler, Robert Delgado, Heinz Schachtner, Kai Warner, Bert Kaempfert, Max Greger, and The Spotnicks. I hadn’t heard of any of these artists until I discovered this tape, but it’s been interesting looking them up on the search engines and finding out a bit about them.
The cassette itself is well made, feels pretty solid and doesn’t rattle unduly. The sound quality is very good, albeit, inevitably, that this is a Type I tape. It’s made in Germany, and has the Deutsche Grammophon record company identification on the label in small print. Polydor was a component of Deutsche Grammophon, and if you look at Polydor’s history in the 1960s, the names of the artists recorded on this tape quickly start to spring up. It’s quite fascinating to think that at the point this musicassette was complied, the easy listenining thing, and the likes of Bert Kaempfert, James Last, etc, were what Polydor was all about. Polydor was not a rock and teen pop label in 1970.
So this is another very important little facet of music history, which has taught me a few interesting things I’d never otherwise have taken the trouble to investigate.