Master Tapes

Quarter inch mater tapes at Bunny Lee’s studio, Kingston. (1996?)

How fast technology has changed in the last twenty years. When I did my book Reggae Island in 1992, the decided subtitle was Jamaican Music in The Digital Age. This was because Jamaica was just entering the digital age of recording, with most studios just beginning to embrace the technology. Studios were still using 2″ magnetic tape, an upgrade from the 1/4″ tape of the 70’s. Since then we have went from 1/4″ to 2″ and then to digital media, DAT’s, various other storage drives, Hard-drives, CD’s & DVD’s, thumb drives and now you have the Cloud. Whats next? Who knows. What I do know that there is a LOT of material out there that has not been archived from the original tapes, and parts for those machines are getting harder to come by as those tapes slowly deteriorate. Trying to find a working DAT machine in Kingston is even a problem.

The pile of tapes in this photo became part of the Blood & Fire Records archives so fortunately most of these tapes were saved. I remember looking at some of the labels/titles on some of these tapes and tape boxes, almost all of them were priceless reggae classics, I was in awe, but also dismayed at the condition of some of them.

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