When The Numero Group came into possession of a mysterious lot of 70-odd reel-to-reel mix tapes in all their moldy and musty glory, our initial thought was to put them curbside. The worst of the tapes were wrapped in a toxic carpet of fuzzy black mold that went straight to the dumpster before they could give us respiratory illness. But before we could ditch the rest of the tapes, Dante Carfagna regaled us with the history of their unique origins. It was then that we knew they had a greater destiny than sharing landfill space with our cardboard scraps—and that destiny involves Record Store Day.
The tapes were once the property of one Jimmy Taylor, who began 1968 as a varsity member of his high school football team and ended it in the army. Vietnam wasn’t exactly the kind of place you could bring your record collection. Sand, dirt, heat, and limited space made tape more practical than vinyl. Service members stationed overseas had access to duty-free audio equipment at greatly discounted prices through the army’s PX, and Taylor, like many soldiers, became the proud owner of a reel-to-reel tape machine shortly after completing basic. Soldiers often used the tapes to send audio messages to friends and families, but Taylor liked to spend his leave recording his favorite albums for later listening. He’d string together the hits of the day onto a single tape that could play for hours on a continuous auto-reverse—providing an unbroken relief from the pain and danger of the war, at least until the next patrol.
Leaving Vietnam at the rank of staff sergeant, and with a load of high-quality audio gear and dozens of reels, he kept up the practice of taping albums all through the 1970s. His taste fell heavily on the R&B end of the spectrum: the stock of tapes we received contains albums by Isaac Hayes, Funkadelic, Bobby Womack, and more, often on the same tape, and often with handwritten dates and track lists. Taylor was diagnosed with cancer in the mid-90s, succumbing on July 12th, 1998. Fortunately, his wife kept his musical collection, LPs and tapes alike, in the family garage for another 13 years before they found their way to the Numero Group offices.
To help celebrate Record Store Day, we’ve shrink-wrapped the salvageable tapes and included a full account of Jimmy Taylor’s incredible life in war and peace. Hand-numbered in an edition of 52, these tapes will be available only on Record Store Day, Saturday, April 16, 2011, at the Numero Store, 1371 N. Milwaukee Ave., while supplies last.
To get your hands on one of Jimmy Taylor’s mixtapes, all you have to do is tell us you want to “Bring The War Home” when you check out.
2 Comments so far
Leave a comment