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Tuesday, February 01, 2005
  I was briefly a tape trader

Guided by Voices "Unleashed! The Large-Hearted Boy"

Guided by Voices "Game of Pricks"

I was a college freshman in 1995, and was newly introduced to the world wide web. Early on I found various sites that promised rare, unreleased, and live recordings by my favorite bands. Getting indoctrinated into the high-stakes nerdism of bootleg tape-trading was easy; trade a blank tape for one with a concert or radio session, build up a little library of your own, and eventually you’d be sending and receiving 90-minute Maxells from like-minded strangers across the globe. I did this steadily for a year, acquiring forty or so tapes by the summer of 1996, and then gradually trickled down to complete inactivity by ’98 or so. Initially interested in Pavement and Archers of Loaf stuff, I wound up with a hodge-podge of mid-90’s indie-rock stuff that pretty much all sounded like a car with a busted muffler. The audio quality would almost never be as good as the trader would claim, and at least half of my collection was listened to no more than twice, but I was able to get my hands on a lot of great music that I otherwise never would have heard. It certainly beat paying twenty-five bucks for some cheaply produced bootleg cd from Italy.

Anyway, I’ve got a big green duffel bag full of this crap that’s been moving back and forth between my parents’ basement and attic for the last five or six years. I grabbed a handful of the more notable tapes when I was home in December, and here are some songs from one of them. It’s a 1995 performance on D.C.’s WHFS radio station by Guided by Voices. The guy who sent it to me threw it on as filler at the end of an Archers tape, so it cuts halfway through the third song, “Motor Away”. These two made it in their entirety, though, and so here they are.
 
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