I count these cassette tapes among some of my oldest friends.
Between the ages of fifteen and eighteen, I scrupulously saved up, then bought each precious album in triumph. I would listen to them over and over as I drove around the Welsh countryside in my cream and maroon Citroen 2CV, until the tape wore thin and the singing voices crackled.
Or – realistic in the knowledge that I would never be able to save enough from my job at the local swimming pool to buy, say, the entire Pixies back catalogue – I borrowed tapes off friends, and captured the plaintive tones of Black Francis on my own C90.
I used these towers of tapes as mental armour against the rest of the (as I saw it back then) musically unenlightened, non-’alternative’ people in my small teenage world. When I was listening to Kristen Hersch sing about ghostly voices sliding down telephone receivers, the fact that I felt different to everyone around me didn’t matter a jot. In fact, it seemed like something to be proud of. Who wants to be the straight act when your head’s in a musical world populated by stoners, misfits and tortured artists?