C30 C60 C90 GO!

This post follows on from the “Graffiti ain’t what it used to be” blog post I wrote a few weeks ago. IF you grew up in Dubai you most likely listened to FM92, our one and only radio station that brought us everything from Top of the Pops to the BBC Radio 4 show Round the Horne (yes, really). The title of this post is a song by the British new wave band Bow Wow Wow. They released it around 1981 when I was 13. I remember listening to it and thinking, “What in the world? That can’t really be considered music!”. It was at a time when I was into buying records but also recording a song or two off the radio. I bought the 7 inch single of this song. It cost 13 dirhams.

Hit it, pause it, record it and play
Turn it, rewind and rub it away

To my surprise, an uncle of mine who kept up with the charts heard the song. I was at his house and he put it on and asked me to explain the song. I’ll let you listen to it and decide for yourself. For me, it just summed up what was going on at the time. Lots of (young) people buying blank tapes of various lengths (preferably C90) to record their favourite music or programmes for posterity.


Even at that time, it was considered piracy to record songs from the radio. I can only imagine then, that these tapes were produced for people to record messages to send to their families living far away. It would have been the cheaper option as the cost of international phone calls were high. Or maybe they were on sale so you could record your own music? Nah, I think the manufacturers knew what they were really being used for!

Seriously though, weren’t cassette tapes awesome? They were small, portable and hardy (unlike LP records). You could play them in your car and leave them in there – even in the heat of the Dubai sun. It wasn’t the best thing for them, but they played fine, and best of all, you could get up to 90 minutes of music on just one tape!


Back to my picture though, an inspired artist, (I’m sorry I don’t know who you are) painted a cassette tape on one of the empty walls on Beach Road. I was thrilled to spot it, and last week, I got a decent picture. The sharp-eyed among you will recognise the colours of the TDK cassette. The C90 was always the size of choice (more music for your money)! For any of you who missed this great part of music history, you can read about tapes here.

I wonder if the inventor had any idea how ubiquitous his invention would be and what a difference it would make in the lives of people. The humble cassette tape will feature in many a person’s growing up story. I’ve still got a box of blank tapes lying around. I just need to get a decent tape player. Sadly, I will only be able to listen now at home as car stereos no longer come with tapes, in fact, most don’t even come with a CD player anymore. There you are.

Have you got a cassette tape story to share with us? Drop us a line. We now have sign-in using Facebook or Google, so it’s much easier.

Until next time,


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  1. I was in the UK when these tapes were the thing, but I remember the C90 TDK very well 🙂

    I had a friend in the US and I used to record myself and music from the radio and send to her. Then she would send back.

    A wonderful way to communicate!

    • Awesome! Do you still have any of your compilation tapes? 🙂

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