November 14, 2010

More Cassette Continuity

More Cassette continuity issues, following up on an earlier post. If you know of others, let me know and I'll add them to the list.

The Who - Tommy
I swear growing up my dad had a single-cassette release of Tommy that faded out "Sparks" early and skipped a couple other tracks ("Eyesight to the Blind" was one, I think), but I can't find any corroborating evidence on Google.

Moody Blues - On The Threshold of a Dream
"Never Comes The Day", which opens side B on the LP version, is moved to the end of cassette side A, creating a lengthy gap at the end of side B.

Led Zeppelin II
All screwed up. Side A closer "Thank You" and Side B opener "Heartbreaker" are swapped on cassette, as are "Moby Dick" and "What Is And What Should Never Be." The natural link between Heartbreaker and "Livin' Lovin' Maid" which motivated FM dj's consistently to play the two songs together is lost.

Cream - Wheels of Fire
The side-closing tracks, "As You Said" on vinyl side A and "Deserted Cities of the Heart" on side B, are swapped on the original cassette release.

Beatles - Abbey Road
One of the less egregious track re-orderings in the Beatles' cassette catalog (subject of a forthcoming blogpost), but still odd. The opening tracks on either side, "Come Together" and "Here Comes The Sun", are swapped on cassette. This means that cassette listeners get both Harrison songs over and done with at the start.

U2 - Boy, October & War
I had these three albums on cassette in the 80's, and it's worthy to note that in all three releases, each side contains the entire album. Although it used twice as much cassette tape (how EMI's accountants would've blanched at such a notion!), it completely solved the track re-ordering dilemma.

Pink Floyd - Ummagumma
The concept of "One album live, one album studio" goes to pot on the cassette release, with the songs scrambled out of any semblance of order. It's an EMI release; go figure.

Monty Python - Contractual Obligation Album
They left the running order unchanged, but since side A was six minutes shorter than side B, Michael Palin bookends the six silent minutes at the end of side A with opening and closing narration. (The intervening silence is about as funny as most of the rest of the album, particularly "Finland" and "I Like Traffic Lights.")


Anonymous said...

I believe that this was done for cassette decks with auto-reverse, typically in cars. Side A always had to be longer - that way, when it ended, the deck would reverse direction right away and begin playing Side B. Silence at the end of B didn't matter, because it was assumed that the listener would wind the tape at the end.

As far as track reordering (other than taking the lead of B and tacking it on to the end of A): that was most likely an accounting (not continuity) decision. By reordering the tracks, you could get Side A and B nearly the same length, and therefore minimize the length of tape you'd need (silence at the end of B is wasted money, after all). You could save a few pennies for every tape manufactured. The obvious downside is that it screws up concept albums and artistic integrity.

John said...

Absolutely, especially in the case of Beatles and other EMI artists, artistic integrity went right out the window as their accountants made sure that the least amount of tape was utilized.

What's interesting is that in several cases, my first exposure to these albums was via cassette, so some of these alterations sound natural to me. Led Zep's debut album and Jethro Tull's "This Was" traded sides - i.e. vinyl side A was cassette side B and vice versa - and I actually prefer to hear the albums this way. They make more 'sense' to me.