December 21, 2012


Music is my first true love and I admit that I spend most of my free time playing instruments, listening to records, researching artists, and collecting recordings. Although I mostly listen to vinyl, I've always had a fascination with the many audio formats that were developed over the years. When I lived on the east coast, I had a few Victrolas and quite a large collection of 78s. Winding up the crank and hearing someone like Bix Beiderbecke echo from the wood was like having a time machine! Flash forward to a week ago, and I was reminiscing with my childhood friend about hearing Led Zeppelin for the first time on his 8-track player when we were kids. Not only was it the most 'bad-ass' guitar I'd ever heard, but the 8-track format seemed really cool. My dad was a recording engineer at the time, making records for classical musician Anthony Newman, folk singer Bill Crofut, and dj Don Imus (I know, it sounds like the set-up to a classic joke!). Because of the attention to quality and reel-to-reel in the house, the 8-track never really took off at home. But looking back at the music being put out during the 8-track's lifespan, roughly 1965-1982, those self-contained tape cartridges start to become interesting as artifacts. Luckily, fellow music fan Bucks Burnett thought so, too, and has started the Eight-track Museum!

Located in Dallas, Texas, the museum spotlights the history of the 8-track. The foundation of the collection formed when he was gathering all of the Beatles-related releases and began to pick up tapes from other artists cheaply at tag sales and flea markets. The museum also includes the history of audio formats, spanning from the earliest Edison cylinder players to the modern iPod. Images of his 8-track shelves reveal a celebration of many genres, with artists like Frank Sinatra, The Clash, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, and Gary Numan. A second museum has opened in Roxbury, New York. Burnett has gathered great support from many musicians, including the Talking Heads. In fact, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz (as Tom Tom Club) made a limited-edition 8-track on Burnett's label and had their release party at the museum. Burnett is now working on a documentary film project about the 8-track, called Spinal Tape. Burnett was just featured in a lengthy article and interview at Collector's Weekly. You can check it out here

For Spy Vibers interested in collecting 8-tracks, I suggest starting with the most common soundtracks, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, and The Spy Who Loved Me. If you really get interested in old formats, you might also explore the many reel-to-reel editions of 007 soundtracks and instrumental compilations. The mini tape boxes are beautiful! Iamges of the James Bond 8-tracks above are from the the excellent site, 007 Collector

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