Another Sunday’s morning in my beautiful Puerto Rico. My Irish wife Carolyn and me are ready to hit the road and end with the boredom. We are looking to visit the recently opened Hi End “Mall of San Juan”. It’s been said that a “Urban Outfitters” store has a complete “analog” section with turntables, vinyls and even cassettes! Wow! For a married couple that has been related with audio tape for over 30 years, this represents an opportunity we couldn’t refuse…and off we go!
We got there early, around 11:00 AM, before the rush of people arrived. We visited the usual William’s Sonoma and Pottery Barn stores on the mall’s second level to keep my wife calm & happy, you know, but I was getting anxious to see what was all the fuzz about this Urban’s thing. After some window shopping there we took the electric escalator down to the first level and just after a couple of steps I could already see from the outside an Audio Technica turntable!
|Nice Display, ah?|
Once inside the store I could notice a jovial environment with good atmospherics directed primarily to young hipsters. It evokes the 80’s when I was seriously getting into domestic audio collection. The clothing is more appropriate for my 2 sons but since I was not looking into that, I simply directed my attention to the audio section. To be honest, I was expecting something more elaborated but then I realized that this was not an audio store in all the sense of the world. They had 2 Audio Technica tables there and some other “crappy” but nice looking “all in one” consoles, like those used by the elementary schools to play the “Three Little Pigs” record.
|Definitely not a Hi End option, but who cares? It’s cute anyway!|
With all honesty, I was just tempted to buy one of those cheap players just for fun and as a novelty to put it on my living room or office. Unfortunately, Carolyn stopped me with her usual “Are you kidding?” question meaning “NO”. “How many systems do you have at home right now? What do you need that little shit for?” Well, probably she was right,so, I have to wait for a next opportunity and use an special date as an excuse…Christmas is coming! Ha!
|Some of the vinyls for sale.|
The vinyls section was not what an avid collector could expect but it was highly gratifying to see young kids looking and perusing through the records. There’s hope for analog after all. I mean, they are just into this because it’s en vogue, but you have to start somewhere anyway and why not here. All pressings were 180 gm Vinyl, premium quality with colorful jackets and prices fluctuating between $18.95 and up to $40.00 for double albums. Not bad, I guess…
|New and sealed cassettes!|
Then, we saw a couple of cassettes on a table that I thought it were just part of the decoration but it was not. Actually, these were new and sealed cassettes for sale! Can you believe it? Also, they had a series of domestic recorded mix cassettes hanging on a wall labeled as “rescued” from who knows where and also for sale! Isn’t that piracy? Well, I don’t care a flying record if those are or not because I was so thrilled with that sight that I simply didn’t care at all! Suddenly, Carolyn said “Oh, oh, here we go. I don’t want to see you here with your briefcase full of cassettes trying to sell them some”. Boomer! That was exactly what went through my mind when I saw those cassettes there.
|This one I bought and it’s awesome!|
Well, I didn’t took any record player, vinyl or cassette tape with me, but I bought a book full of surprises. For an avid recordist like myself, this “bible” is something I must have and I just got it! “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die”. I mean, I would take this with me inside the casket when my time comes, that’s for for sure! Since I have access to Tidal, Deezer and Spotify Premium I decided to make a compilation of those 1980’s significant records on cassette and until last night I was going through Volume 4! I have just discovered plentiful of new music and also read about the story behind each one of the records included in the book. Recommended!
|“Festival del Límber” Ceiba, Puerto Rico.|
Finally, we decided not to eat at the mall after all and conducted ourselves to the East Coast close to where we live. Ceiba is the name of the town right on the eastern extreme of the island where a Festival was going on. We arrived about 2:00 PM and immediately went to grab lunch at “Broadway’s Bar and Grill”. This is a typical puertorrican informal restaurant and bar. They cook really good and we usually have lunch there or visit them in the evening to drink cold beers and eat some light dishes. The prices are phenomenal and they can fix you either a pizza or rice and beans. No problem at all! After the lunch we found some old acquaintances and share with them nice alive music from local groups and enjoyed the festivities.
Once back at home, I started my 80’s Music recording saga with gathered information out of my new book. I choose my custom loaded Shape Mark 10 shells with Maxell XL II tape I loaded 20 years ago at my former CD & Cassette duplication plant. I custom loaded 500 C-92’s at that time in the most expensive shell duplication business has ever had, the Shape Mark 10 with their famous individually molded “bridge”, loaded with Maxell XL II or TDK SA cro2 tape. I printed it with my name on it,etc. Just under 100 remains today ready for recording. Anyway, I must have over 700 blank tapes from all brands you could ever imagine,so, I’m well stocked for the future. I’ll keep you posted about how many volumes I finally came up with of the most significant records of the 80’s. This project could keep me busy if I try to do the rest of the decades as well!
Long live Analog. Cheers!
Carlitos Guzmán - Mono and Stereo Senior Contributing Writer