Younger readers might struggle to remember the cassette tape – but for people who persist in driving ‘eighties and ‘nineties cars, the odds are it still defines their in-car listening experience.
After the clumsy, horrible, stick-out awfulness of the Eight Track, it was the sonically inferior compact cassette that won the in-car entertainment war in the 1970s. And, for the next two-and-a-bit decades, nothing could touch it.
Indeed, you can keep your CDs and your iPods, because I reckon the cassette is long overdue a revival. I’ve just made a long cross-country journey listening to nothing else, and I can’t think of a better way to avoid being babbled at by local radio DJs. My daughter was less convinced, examining the scratched plastic cases with a look of intense scepticism: “who were Spandau Ballet, Simple Minds and Level 42?”
My answer, of course, was that all were due the same sort of revival I reckon the cassette that imprisoned their innovative soundwaves deserves. The huge advantage of a cassette is that you end up listening to the album in the way the artist intended, rather than constantly shuffling through your digital downloads to get that hit tune fix. Indeed, many of the cheaper cassette-playing head units didn’t have a rewind function, committing you to another 50 minutes of listening before your favourite track came round again.