directed by Robert V. Galluzzo
Passion River Films
It’s odd seeing a 64-bit depiction of the ancient 8-bit world: It’s TOO accurate. But that’s just how this movie rolls its credits. We begin this documentary with a young-ish father explaining cassette tapes to his teenage daughter. But first he must explain compact disks and soon we are back in the world of the 1970’s when cassette tapes were the hot new technology. Vinyl remained the king of quality audio, but the tape cassette allowed you to assemble a collection of just the songs that you loved for your driving pleasure. No more B sides, no more dud passages in your tunage as you drove down the road burning gas that only cost 30 cents a gallon. But now we’ve entered a new millennia as the film maker interviews aging hipsters as they look back at their formative years. Bits of the new millennia sneak in; the interviews are filmed with a ring light giving these guys that supernatural look in their eyes you see on YouTube. But the stories are more than nostalgia; these were the days when that one special track could save your life. I know; I was saved by Alice Cooper’s “18” and Ritchie Blackmore’s “Man on the Silver Mountain.” I’m sure you have your own faves.
The good tapes were 90 minutes long, and a good cassette cost about an hour’s pay. Its was a fair deal in those days. You had to learn the ins and outs of “Type 2” and “Gold” tapes but no one knew what any of that meant. But this let us hear OUR music in the way WE wanted. Sure, you heard some tape hiss, but with the windows rolled down and the volume turned up, it didn’t matter. The true fans in this film still have their Radio Shack mixers, and the point here shows how your music, properly arranged, could draw love and boost your cool factor and set you apart as that weird who only listened to jazz. We see how much work went into the mix tapes: song selection, getting copies of the music (often over the radio,) the mixing process, and the effect the result gave you. Here that young woman getting help from her father gets the ultimate demo: her dad scrounges up a classic Mustang complete with a tape deck so they can cruise around town and bond. Nostalgia? Absolutely. And ultimately, that’s all you have left is a time capsule of life in the 1970’s preserved in amber for your reminiscing pleasure.