Star Wars OST audio cassette

100_5489A long, long time ago on a Birthday far, far away… well, February 1978 to  be exact, on my twelfth birthday (don’t do the maths, honestly, its too depressing), I was given this copy of John William’s Star Wars soundtrack on audio cassette.

Star Wars didn’t get released over here in the UK until late 1977, in London anyway, with it coming out into the regions some weeks later in early 1978, when I finally got to see it that same month of February as my birthday.  I loved the film, loved the music… well, its hard to explain the impact of Star Wars back then to people so inured these days to so many summer blockbusters.

Back then, soundtracks were pretty much the only way to ‘own’ a piece of a movie, a way to relive the film experience. Actually owning a copy of the film, on VHS, DVD, Blu-ray or whatever was something undreamed of. But yeah, my parents may have thought it a rather odd present choice of a young boy in England, but I really wanted the soundtrack. I chose to have it on cassette rather than vinyl simply because my parents had bought me a radio cassette player for Christmas a few weeks before, and after all, cassettes were The Future, weren’t they? No pops, scratches, clicks or jumps which records could be hindered with (so here we are decades later with vinyl enjoying a resurgence and most everyone under twenty looking at this wondering what the hell that plastic box is in the picture here). Yeah, and green plastic- even back then it looked a little unusual. I have to wonder, as the soundtrack was likely bought on vinyl more than on cassette, how many of these green things are still floating around.

100_5490Birthday presents come and go and they naturally vanish with time, but I made sure never to lose this cassette. No way I was ever losing this little beauty over the long years since. Its funny how you get attached to the oddest things. Of course as the years went on and the audio cassette format faded away this odd little guy started to become not just a reminder of a childhood birthday but something of a relic of a lost age, another defunct format. You’d think I’d learn, but we seldom do, as other media formats -Betamax, VHS, DAT, etc came and went. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Star Wars just goes on and on of course- I have VHS and DVD editions of the films themselves up in the loft and the Blu-ray box on a shelf behind me. Only being able to relive the film by listening to the score through headphones seems such a distant time.

100_5491I later bought the Star Wars soundtrack album on vinyl anyway, several years later in a sale (why exactly, I’m not even sure), and of course much later on compact disc in expanded form, but this little cassette was where it all started-  my first soundtrack. Which, when I think about it, is something of a Big Deal. It started an interest and appreciation of film scores that would last the rest of my life (my birthday present the following year was John William’s Superman: The Movie soundtrack, this time on vinyl- what wonderful years they were for soundtracks). This interest resulting in hundreds of CD soundtracks piling up all over my house. No doubt the CD format itself will follow the audio cassette into obscurity too, as has been threatened for years. That’s really rather depressing, especially considering just how many of them I have and all the time I’d have to spend converting them into mp3/digital files for posterity/future playback…

 

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2 thoughts on “Star Wars OST audio cassette

  1. That’s brilliant!

    Do you still listen to the cassette? Do you still have a tape player to play it on? We just cleared out the cellar before moving house, and I was overjoyed to find my twin cassette hi-fi separate that I thought I’d sold years ago.

    Actually, tapes are a hipster favourite these days. There’s quite a lot of American acts, and artier UK people who put out tape-only releases [eg http://www.tapeworm.org.uk%5D.

    Out of curiosity, was there a period where you lost interest in, or stopped buying soundtracks? They were pretty much all I listened to as a kid. When I got my first tape recorder at age 8, my first cassette that I got with it was the ‘Alien’ soundtrack. I also had ‘ST:TMP’ and ‘Raiders…’ on tape, but most other things on vinyl – and a lot of them: ‘CE3K’, ‘Jaws’, ‘Tron’, ‘ESB’, ‘ET’, ‘Poltergeist’, ‘Star Trek II’ etc etc..

    Weirdly, I never even saw a copy of ‘Star Wars’ on vinyl until about 1981 or something, in a second-hand record shop [though I remember the displays in record shops and cinema foyers]. I had to make do with terrible cover version albums until then.

    But when it got to about 1984 and I turned 13, I suddenly – and quite appropriately for my age – got into pop music, and didn’t buy soundtracks at all after that. The last one I got was ‘Star Trek III’, and though it didn’t get much immediate play I loved that score to death a few years later when I listened to it more.
    .

    1. Haven’t played the cassette in a long while (I listen to the expanded CD) but I do still have a Hi-Fi with a cassette deck if ever the notion takes me. To be honest I consider the thing to be a hallowed artifact and I’d be terrified of it breaking or something.

      Regards soundtracks, I’ve always been buying them, pretty much. Its always been part of my enjoyment of movies (a good soundtrack score really makes a film, I find, and a bad score can break an otherwise good film too. That said, my interest waned with the rise of the Hans Zimmer/Media Ventures ‘sound’ which has pretty much killed modern film scores. Back in the day you’d leave a cinema whistling the Star Wars or Raiders march, Batman theme, whatever, but these days any melody is gone and scores sound all fairly the same and mediocre. My soundtrack buying these days is usually old scores remastered and/or expanded. The last several years have been great for such releases, not so much for ‘new’ film scores.

      Yeah, I had all those scores you mention- Star Trek:TMP, Alien, Tron, CE3K, Raiders. That was a fantastic time to be getting into soundtracks, and something lost for contemporary film fans with the current state of film-scoring and movies generally. Most of the best scores done these days are for television, like Bear McCreary’s work, and I think its no small coincidence that the best dramas are found on television too rather than at the cinema.

      1982 in particular was a great year for soundtracks- Poltergeist, Conan, Blade Runner (no album! Boo!), The Thing, Tron, Star Trek:WOK… really fantastic stuff that I still listen to today. These days its usually maybe one new movie soundtrack a year, which is really sad. Chris Nolans Dark Knight films for instance were good, but the scores, while effective in the films, are awful to listen to separate from the images. Whereas John Williams Star Wars and Superman scores had a life all their own in my bedroom back in the day, soundtracks to my childhood reading comics and books and drawing, or just my daydreams.

      Nearest thing to pop music I ever got into was Jean Michel Jarre, Rush and Vangelis, so I was never really ‘with’ the mainstream!

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