WHETHER 'TIS NOBLER in the mind to......{KACHUNK!}......suffer the slings AND ARROWS OF OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE
September 19, 2011 9:34 PM   Subscribe

It's a bit old, but there's nothing on the Blue about the Eight Track Museum in Dallas, TX which opened this Valentine's Day. Such an oversight must be redressed. The museum's curator, Bucks Bennett, didn't start collecting 8-track tapes until 1988, long after the format has ceased being viable. As of this year, Bennett has about 3000 tapes in his collection, one of which you really, truly need to see (though whether or not you actually want to hear this tape is a decision best left to you, Gentle Reader).

A documentary about the 8-track experience, Spinal Tape, will debut at the Dallas Video Fest on September 25. A brief excerpt from Burnett's interview with Tiny Tim can be seen here, while an older article from February written by Steve Guttenberg (no, not Mahoney) can be found on the Audiophiliac.

(True confession: I inherited a Zenith Allegro stereo in the early 1980s that had a built-in turntable and 8-track recorder. My older relatives had copied some songs from the early 70s--lots of Guess Who--as well as most of Side 2 of George Carlin's "Class Clown;" sadly, the tape ran out just as George was about to talk about those famous seven dirty words. Also part of the collection was a Yes concert from September 24, 1978, recorded live in Chicago as it was being simulcast by...WXRT, I think...during Yes's In The Round tour to promote the flaming bag of shit called Tormato. When I was in college, a friend of mine had in his possession Madonna's Like A Virgin on 8-track, and I truly hope he's held on to it.)

Additional links:
"So Wrong They're Right," a somewhat related documentary by Russ Forster about 8-track collectors.
Part One of the album waved menacingly by Bucks Burnett.
posted by stannate (27 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Also worth mentioning:

1. A thread from April about niche museums, of which this one would certainly qualify.

2. A friend of mine and "former museologist," Rachel, has a related Tumblr site called This Belongs In A Museum; perhaps she will investigate the 8-Track Museum and file a report on it in the future.
posted by stannate at 9:38 PM on September 19, 2011

posted by dr_dank at 9:46 PM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

I remember figuring out how to record my voice on my 8-track player... and then discovering that if you depressed the "FF" button while recording, the sound you just recorded would play back very slow. For a long while after that, I had fun taping conversations between myself (normal speed) and my imaginary brother George (me at slow speed). And then I'd be rolling around on the floor listening to my voice, played back extremely slow, saying things like "DIIIID YOOOU FAAARRRRT?"

(I was maybe ten years old.)
posted by not_on_display at 9:50 PM on September 19, 2011 [7 favorites]

"Kachunk", indeed, stannate. "Kachunk".

And then there was more Billy Preston. If ever I think "8-track", I think of Billy Preston's Music Is My Life album. This was on repeat in the house of my childhood.
posted by droplet at 9:59 PM on September 19, 2011

Now, am I missing something, or is there precisely ONE item on display in the 8-TRACK GALLERY?

Otherwise, the curator (and somewhat behind-schedule website builder) is a Burnett, not a Bennett* as credited in the FPP.

*i was worried for a minute there, thought he might be a relative
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:00 PM on September 19, 2011

Oh, snap. And I was even thinking of associating the curator's name with T-Bone Burnett while I was reading up on the articles, yet somehow I typed "Bennett" instead when posting. Good catch, flapjax.
posted by stannate at 10:19 PM on September 19, 2011

Such an oversight must be redressed.

It's not an oversight. There's nothing worth looking at on the web site--it's basically an ad (and a bad one) for a physical place. This is not what MeFi is for.
posted by dobbs at 10:30 PM on September 19, 2011

I would like to favorite the title of this post as hard as possible. Thank you.
posted by Mrs. Buck Turgidson at 10:33 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Any mention of 8-Track make me think of these otherwise nice People I knew who played that 'Jungle Boogie' song until I felt like killing things and breaking people....
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:34 PM on September 19, 2011

An FPP that disses Metal Machine Music and Tormato? You, sir, are my nemesis.

Fun post!
posted by mintcake! at 11:35 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'd like to think Metal Machine Music's 8-track release was solely down to Lester Bangs continually calling up RCA to ask for a copy he could play in his car.
posted by anagrama at 12:28 AM on September 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

I still can not listen to certain songs by bands like Black Sabbath or Deep Purple without getting messed up by where the KACHUNK came in...
posted by sfts2 at 3:23 AM on September 20, 2011

I still can not listen to certain songs by bands like Black Sabbath or Deep Purple without getting messed up by where the KACHUNK came in...

Amen to that.

Eight tracks bring back nothing but happy memories for me. My buddy Mark used to drive a beater 1974 Mustang with no radio and an 8-track player with the Best of the Doors jammed in it.

When you were riding with Mark, it was the Doors or nothing. We used to drive around at lunch, listening to the one and only 8-track, killing quarts of Miller High Life, always careful to toss the empties onto someone's well-manicured lawn. Mark's logic: It's not littering if you throw your trash somewhere where you know someone else will pick it up and properly dispose of it. KACHUNK.
posted by three blind mice at 4:15 AM on September 20, 2011

Y! M! C! A! *kerchunk!*
posted by mikelieman at 5:52 AM on September 20, 2011

Y! M! C! A! *kerchunk!*

Hmmm... the copy I had was more like...

Y! M! *kerchunk!* C! A!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:55 AM on September 20, 2011

Ah, yes. I installed an 8-track player/FM radio in my '68 Plymouth so I could play the 8-tracks I had bought from the RCA music club (I also had one on my stereo system). Everything was cool until my first winter in Rochester, NY. It would seem that 8-tracks really didn't like being frozen and the player just ate them like candy. I gave up.

I still have my 8-track home player. When I gave my old stereo to my sister-in-law I didn't include it. No tapes, though, as you can imagine.
posted by tommasz at 6:01 AM on September 20, 2011

I have been traveling to Houston quite a bit recently. I will put in on my list of "things to see".

Thank you for the link.
posted by BuffaloChickenWing at 6:02 AM on September 20, 2011

$10 admission? I'm not that nostalgic. 8-track was more or less dead when I was growing up, which was why it was very strange when I got a boombox for Christmas in 1986 which had AM/FM radio, dual cassette, and... an 8 track player.

It was not long after that that a local big box department store acquired a truckload of 8-tracks, and was selling them for $0.50 apiece. I bought a bunch because when you're 12 and there's no internet, cheap music is a big score. About 95% of it was utter crap, but at least there was a Jethro Tull album in there, and I think perhaps some Van Der Graaf Generator. I never had the 8-track of Pink Floyd's Animals, though, which has a rare (at least, before the Internet) alternate guitar solo on Pigs on the Wing.

What a terrible format!
posted by usonian at 6:08 AM on September 20, 2011

I've been on a "Quadrophenia" bender lately (such a great album) and saw this on Wikipedia -

The 8-track tape version of this album has the distinction of being one of the few 8-tracks that is arranged exactly like the album, with no song breaks.
posted by davebush at 6:25 AM on September 20, 2011

Don't forget:
Eight Track Heaven
posted by onesidys at 7:03 AM on September 20, 2011

I'm too young to have used 8-tracks while they were "popular" (if such a word can be used) but was able to retroactively get on board when I bought an 8-track of Terrapin Station at a flea market and listened to it on a dusty old player I found in the back of my high school's AV closet.

Being high as hell, that KACHUNK really harshed my mellow.
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:07 AM on September 20, 2011

I recently gained custody of hundreds of 8-tracks. They need to find a new place to live ASAP. Lots of titles you don't normally see on 8T. KA-CHUNK.
posted by omnidrew at 8:26 AM on September 20, 2011

The hybrid "Pigs On The Wing" is here.

The Sgt. Pepper 8-track had a bizarre extended edit of the "Sgt. Pepper Reprise" as well (listen to it here!), and the track listing was changed this way:

Program 1
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
A Little Help From My Friends (sic)
Fixing A Hole
Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite

Program 2
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Getting Better
She's Leaving Home

Program 3
Within You Without You
A Day In The Life

Program 4
When I'm Sixty-Four
Lovely Rita
Good Morning Good Morning
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)

posted by mintcake! at 9:28 AM on September 20, 2011

I remember the... KERCHUNK ...as being preceded and followed by a fadeout if it was mid-track.
posted by not_on_display at 9:38 AM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you record an 8 track tape and just let it run, you'll find that the "ker-chunks" are almost unnoticeable. It's also worth noting that the 3 3/4 inch per second speed, coupled with its wide tape size give the 8 track 4 times the fidelty of your measely cassette tape.
posted by onesidys at 2:45 PM on September 20, 2011

When I was young, we hung out in a small studio space with an 8-track and only two cassettes, on alternate continuous play:

The Stranglers: Rattus Norvegicus / IV
Chic: C'est Chic

Good Times.
posted by ovvl at 4:35 PM on September 20, 2011

Almost exactly a year ago, I moved my house and part of the move was taking all the things I no longer needed to the thrift store so that they could go to other, more worthy homes. My Component 8 track player (by Pioneer) and my collection of 8-tracks were part of this reduction. My collection included such rarities as the Sgt. Peppers tape, Lou Reed's Berlin, a rare bootleg of Jimmy Page backing up some unknown Chess Records blues singer and a few other odds and ends I couldn't pass up having found them in thrift stores myself for the walloping sum of 50ยข. All these things came into my possession in the 90's when I started grabbing 8-tracks because the local collectors would have decimated the vinyl bins while the stacks of old 8-tracks would have such wonders as The Plastic Ono Band and Dickey Betts peeking out undisturbed. So for me 8-tracks were not an object to fetishize, but a means of end-running the hipsters and hearing more good music (and for half the price of $1 records, no less). But all things must pass, and I decided that the best thing I could do with that collection of patched up tapes (that I taught myself to fix, because, I paid a solid 50 cents for that hunk of plastic and mylar) was to drop them off at a thrift store and leave them for some other foolish young person to find.

I still don't get the desire for the object (nota bene: I have tons of dead formats in my house currently: 78s, transcription discs, reels, cassettes, Laserdiscs, cds), I really only wanted to hear something new and different. But I also don't get the hate for the 8track. It's just media after all. Isn't it? Sooner or later it'll be...

*kerchunk* and we're on to the next program...
posted by 1f2frfbf at 9:08 PM on September 20, 2011

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