One of the biggest mistakes that I make when listening to a cassette that is a collection of songs spanning years such as this is that I try to see it as one cohesive sort of release when in fact it was released over the course of six years on various projects and so this is kind of a compilation, a greatest hits if you will, on some level more so than being your standard album.
In this sense, these songs can be different from one to the next and it makes perfect sense as to why. To go from that acoustic guitar and vocals route onto piano keys and organ synth and then ending off the first side with a rocking instrumental number might not make sense if Joe Jack Talcum was putting together a brand new cassette right now, but here it works.
I also find the time frame of this rather interesting. In 1993 cassettes were still around but they weren’t as popular as they used to be as the compact disc was trying to phase them out. I use 1994 as my gauge for time- because it’s when Kurt Cobain killed himself- and I remember that an album such as “In Utero” was available on cassette but I owned it on CD and that was not uncommon. The early 2000’s were when cassettes became most scarce, as they stopped being mass produced, but I still feel as if this span from 1993 to 1999 would also be a slightly harder time to create cassettes because people were just finally all moving over to compact disc.
So what are these songs about? I mean, the music is there and it’s got a great sound which doesn’t always resemble the strict home recording/bedroom vibe, and as such I try to think back about what my life was like in this time and then I get sad and realize I’m old so I stop reflecting.
One thing I can say though is that the first song is about drinking Guinness, which is something I can get behind. Perhaps if I had heard that song in its original context I would have bonded with it. Possibly between these years, my sister had a party that I went to by default and one of her friends presented me with Guinness for the first time and compared drinking a can of it to eating an entire meal. Needless to say, I drank two cans (After already having other drinks) and felt close to nothing. Ah, to be young and able to consume mass amounts of alcohol again.
A quick journey to Discogs shows that JJT had a “Home Recordings” set before this, from 1984 to 1997, and released as a CD instead on Valiant Death Records. I only note this because it was *not* released on HHBTM and perhaps they could release it on cassette. It’d be kind of like moving backwards when I was looking to see if JJT still made music but I’d be fine with that. The newest offering Discogs has is from 2011, which is a split LP he did which I will not look into but I can’t imagine he stopped making music.
To have this sort of piece of time in the life of a musician, a sort of time capsule revealed if you will, is something I can never really get over how amazing it is. This is important for fans of cassettes, fans of certain styles of music, blah blah blah, but mostly it’s just something you should hear because I feel it has that certain mass appeal.