No need to knit your own royal wedding, you can get it on tape
I’VE ALREADY got the commemorative tea towel and mug and, as you read this, I’m furiously stitching my way through Fiona Goble’s genius book Knit Your Own Royal Wedding. But the real fun begins at 1pm today when The royal wedding goes up on iTunes just minutes after the sacrificial daughter of an air-hostess plights her troth to a member of a rich German family that doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to dealing with photogenic “commoners”.
Kate and Wills going direct to iTunes is expected to crash the system as gazillions rush to the site to have and to electronically hold the entire service from Westminster Abbey complete with music from the London Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Air Force’s Fanfare Team. Just be thankful that Elton John hasn’t been asked to do a turn.
The real breakthrough though with the wedding is not the almost simultaneous iTunes cash-in, but the physical formats being used to release the recording. There will be the CD and the de luxe more-money-than-sense special edition double CD, but the big surprise lies in the news that the wedding and the music will also be released on cassette tape.
While you may think that this is because those who are expected to buy this nonsense are all over 80 years old, let’s give the happy couple the benefit of the doubt and believe it’s because the cassette format is very “on trend” these days and, in more ways than one, is more “contemporary” than tweeting your actual vows.
To put this in perspective, practically no one releases on cassette any more. The final blow came earlier this year when Sony discontinued its once ubiquitous Walkman.
So cassette is the new vinyl. Most people know that the sound from an analog cassette is not just superior to that of a CD but is a thousand times better than the tin-canny din MP3s make. Go into the musical underground out there‚ (the real one, not the one written about in style magazines) and you’ll find that TDK and Maxell are the only names to drop.
The weird reason for the revival is the number of young people buying old cars. At first, they stared at the weird device called a cassette player in their piece of junk and thought of it as being delightfully retro. That was until they liberated some cassette tapes from their grandparents’ collections and actually listened to the sound quality.
They discovered a whole new way of listening too because, unlike with CDs and MP3s, they couldn’t just flick from song to song in attention-deficit disorder style. So many albums get listened to the whole way through which, funnily enough, is how it was meant to be.
It’s their “outsider” status coupled with their recherché value (because they’re not being made any more) that has modern music’s bleeding edge yearning for the TDKs. Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore spiffily says, “I only listen to cassettes,” while bands such as Deerhunter and Dirty Projectors continue to release on the format.
There is also the pre-Napster/ pre-download charm of the C60. It was only when the record companies digitised music for the CD format that they wrote their own retirement notes. Analog was always a far superior sonic experience to digital, but when the switch-over came the labels weren’t being run by audiophiles but accountants.
I don’t think Wills and Kate are releasing their nuptials on the cassette format as a gesture of solidarity with the indie underground, but hey, it’s a start.
Cassette tapes: the new vinyl