The Basement Tapes

When I saw the cassettes I thought, “Oh, wow. This could be the motherlode.”BasementTapes

Or, a big disappointment.

Digging through boxes of photos, letters, and memorabilia, I found something I never expected to find: three cassette tapes that I’m fairly certain contain my voice, along with others, back when we were teenagers in the mid-to-late 1970s.

One C-30 tape likely had the biggest vein of material, while the other two 60-minute tapes probably contained TV programs from the early 1970s, about UFOs and In Search of Ancient Astronauts—real mind-blowers at the time.

So, I just recently had them digitized. You know, before they dissolve into the ether. Then I was itching to hear what they had to say.

Here’s what I uncovered: The earliest tape, the C-30, is shot—completely off the spool. Unless someone out there knows how to repair that, its secrets will be lost forever. The other two tapes have been converted, so I’m sharing clips from them here:

Basement Tape #1

Date: Monday, Feb. 20, 1978; Total length: 11:04 minutes

It was a terrible day.

After smashing up the Dartillac, and probably grounded indefinitely, I was at home listening to the radio and messing around with the tape recorder. Maybe some friends stopped by, or my brother and our neighbor friends recorded with me prior to leaving for the ski slopes.

1970s KidsIt begins with Pink Floyd’s “Money,” then (around 4:26 in) we kids interrupt, goofing around as only teenagers know how to do: “KQ Fireline… oh wow, man. The moon is beautiful today! Hello in there! We’re recording nothing of value!”

“Testing 1, 2, 3…” The date is confirmed at 5:35 in, with a KQRS radio ad for the County Seat (a clothing store that mostly sold Levis) at the six-minute mark. Some Hall & Oates at 6:20, then the slowed-down voiceover from some TV show, likely the UFO program I’d taped over (“Would… you… believe?”).

At 7:15, we switch over to KDWB, where John Denver plays “Sunshine on My Shoulders.”

But you really have to stick around for a hilarious ad spot for the movie The Trial of Billy Jack beginning at 9:49. “He’s coming!”

Who? Billy Jack is back!

Amazing how prescient the dialogue is even today: “One way for the rich, and one way for the rest of us!”

Basement Tape #2

Date: unknown, likely 1978; Total length: 4:32 minutes

KQRS, the album rock station for the Twin Cities, was playing the latest from The Eagles’ Hotel California. So, given that record’s release in February 1977, and mention of Joe Walsh getting But Seriously, Folks in the can, it’s likely this clip was actually recorded in 1978.

Ah, those were the days of sexy, smoky-voiced female DJs, whom I distinctly remember feeling very cozy listening to.

At 00:39 in, there’s an ad for a “CBS All-Stars Show” at the State Theatre, Saturday, Dec. 3, featuring Billy Cobham, Tom Scott, Alphonso Johnson and Steve Khan—tickets were only $7.50 and $6.50!

The opening bars of Kansas’ “Closet Chronicles” bursts in around 1:51, followed immediately by the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider.” Always loved the wistful tone of that song, like all the old feelings I got while nightwalking.

Basement Tape #3

Date: Thanksgiving 1978?; Total length: 3:08 minutes

Probably from the same time, given The Eagles/Carl Carlton/warbling voiceover on the clip. It’s almost a form of aural art—beamed in directly to you from late 1970s AM radio (KDWB)! Can you dig it?

A “Musk Oil by Houbigant” ad oozes in at 1:44. Hilarious!

“A fascinating fragrance as old as time, as new as you,” and “Pure … and not so pure.”

Remember, it’s a fragrance “for people who give more of themselves!”

Get it? MORE, you horny bastards!

And the DJ banter with three crazy kid listeners? Crazy good.

The clip ends with the rarely played, dreamy-spacey opening to America’s “Tin Man.”

Basement Tape #4

Date: 1977? 1978?; Total length: 10:20 minutes

It’s a long one, but definitely worth listening all the way to the end—the payoff is Rod Serling!

The clip opens with an ad for the latest LP by New Riders of the Purple Sage, Marin County Line, released in 1977. It’s followed at 00:58 by a LaBelles ad for Pioneer stereos, with a jingle that is 1970s cringeworthy: “A word of caution—Prices are limited!”

At 2:12 in, Todd Rundgren’s “The Night the Carousel Burned Down” from his 1972 Something/Anything double-record set, followed by (at 6:26) “I Don’t Know What to Feel,” from A Wizard, a True Star (1973).

Well, space cats, this is the closest you’ll ever get to listening to ’70s music exactly as it was broadcast in the late 1970s.

Then, at 8:46 in, a cataclysmic explosion!

Sodom and Gomorrah. “So complete was the destruction.”

Cue Raiders of the Lost Ark!

~ by completelyinthedark on August 15, 2014.

2 Responses to “The Basement Tapes”

  1. Brilliant writing my friend. Love these blogs week after week

    Stay in tune

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff, that might be you screaming “Camera!” in Basement Tape clip #1. Hard to tell. Of course I’m doing the “Testing 1,2,3…” 🙂


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