A couple of weekends ago, I helped a friend at her record store repair some pieces of gear to sell in her shop. While working, I stumbled on this dubbed tape of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme and Sonny Rollin’s A Night at the Village Vanguard. I thought it would be fun to have this home made tape and asked if I could have it. Thankfully, my friend said yes.
I played Side 1 of the tape, A Love Supreme, only to notice there was a full band playing underneath Coltrane and I mean a full rock band. Huh? Whoever recorded on this tape didn’t do a good enough job to erase the tape’s previous contents. I can hear mostly A Love Supreme, but in the quiet parts, like during one of Jimmy Garrison’s bass solos, you can hear a rock band performing a different song. Here’s the strange thing…it kind of all meshes together in an interesting way that doesn’t make it impossible to listen to!
This morning I noticed a track listing on the inside of the tray card and it was different than the jazz albums. Sure enough, it’s a tape by Dan Baird, the leader of the Georgia Satellites! I furthered researched his discography and found it’s his 1996 album, Buffalo Nickel. Judging by the label of Precision Mastering in Hollywood, California, I assume this was a professional dub, perhaps even a pre-release copy, of his album.
How did this tape end up in Nashville? And why did someone choose to record John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins over Dan Baird? And when they did, why didn’t they at least do a better job?
This leads to me a second point….remember when the music industry was worried that home taping would kill music? The industry was worried people would tape their favorite songs from the radio and not buy the music or dub their friends records and cassettes and skip the record store all together.
Some bands poked fun at this, including the Dead Kennedys, who left Side B of their cassette blank and printed this…
I suppose this was all good practice for the record industry who were actually threatened by the mp3 file sharing of Napster in the 90’s, but the dubbing of cassettes would never provide a high enough quality substitution for the real product and shouldn’t have been a concern. I have proof in this Coltrane/Rollins/Baird tape that most people didn’t make good enough transfers to matter.
I do find some satisfaction in this cassette finding it’s way to me. It reminds me of the romantic notion of someone taking the time to make a mixtape which has been replaced by streaming playlists, something someone can throw together quickly by dragging and dropping songs. The mixtapes of old meant you had to own the original album and dub it down in a sequence that you couldn’t go back and rearrange later. You had to compile it all on the fly. That’s what made it such an art and that doesn’t even include the design of the tray card!
I’m happy this cassette made it’s way into my life. Much appreciation to the new super group by Coltrane, Rollins and Baird!