Out to dinner last night and The Wall came up in conversation. We talked about why it was such a landmark (Floyd hadn't recorded anything since Animals), how out of place it was - John Peel's punk-inflected observation after playing Another Brick in the Wall that the guitar solo wasn't dead after all - how it was - is - for better or worse a key part of white-middle-aged-middle-class male audiobiography. A time of gatefold vinyl album covers, incredible expectation of the day-of-release, the reverential first playing on so-and-so's system, your ear close up to the speakers to "get that bass". Dolby noise reduction ... Technics ... Memorex ... BASF ... C90 ... C60 ... these were phrases to conjure with. Heady times.
Anyway, I mentioned in passing the Tommy Vance interview with Roger Waters that I recorded off Radio One the weekend the album was released. I remember it as a Saturday afternoon, Barton Street, London and sitting glued to the radio with Nick Brookman (and even more obsessive Floyd head). Was it like that? Never mind. To hear Waters' spoken voice - this was something special. But where was the cassette? Chucked? Buried in a cardboard box in a cupboard back in the UK? Long recorded over? Or simply a spooling mess of tape ribbon?
No. In a box here in Brussels. And not one but two tapes. Agfa C90 LOW-NOISE. Wow!
And better still: it plays just fine. Not the digitized crispness we've come to expect, more a resonant warmth of some thirty years ago. "This is Thomas the Vance ... The Friday Night Rock Show ...". Friday night? Was it repeated on the Saturday afternoon? Maybe.
Who cares? Thank God for analogue technology: still there after all these years - no file conversion necessary, software compatibility issue nor plug-in. Simply rewind and play.