Saturday, September 1, 2007



Who remembers Personics? Well, I still have my old Personics tape (plus a friend's as well, which he gave me once he wound up buying all the albums his Personics songs were taken from); so I'm gonna talk about that tonight.

"Uh, what the heck is this Personics," you ask? They were big arcade game lookin' things that were set up in music stores like Sam Goody's all across the country. You could listen to a whole bunch of songs, select the ones you like, fill out an order form, and get custom-made cassette albums of your songs right there in the store... Here's an excerpt from a May, 1987 article in Time Magazine, explaining the whole thing, "After consulting a catalog of available selections, the customer gives the order to a clerk, who transfers the music from a master optical disk to a blank cassette, and may use a computer to print a custom label for the tape. The high-speed equipment can record 40 minutes of music in less than five minutes. The cost: 50 cents to $1.25 a tune. ...So far, Capitol and Warner Bros. are among the leading record companies that have agreed to let their songs be distributed by the system. The firms, which will receive royalties whenever one of their songs is selected, hope to recoup some of the estimated $1.5 billion in sales that the record industry loses annually to home taping." The whole thing eventually went bankrupt in 1991.

But, considering this was way before the internet and mp3s and CD burning, this was pretty neat while it lasted. Here's what the actual tapes looked like:

And you got this fold-out tracklisting with song credits on the inside:

...You can see what I was rockin' in my pre-high school days. Heh. Sorry it's so small, though; AOL journals automatically shrinks graphics to save on bandwidth and what-not.

They also had take-home catalogs, and yessir, I sure did save one:

Like the front cover says there, this issue encouraged you to make tapes for the troops stationed in The Persian Gulf, and the on the back cover, they give you two sample track-listingsand letters you could write. And one sample letter you might receive from a soldier requesting a tape (I guess they think you should make the tape now to be prepared should such a letter as the following arrive), "Dear Sue, Been thinking alot [sic.] about home and would love some great American music to listen to. Is there any way you could make a tape of these songs and send them to me? I miss you and hope to see you soon, Love, Richard." I guess Sue sent Richard that tape, because we won the war.

Now, here's a sample page of what the catalog looked like inside. I marked all the hip-hop songs with a pen... not now, for your benefit. I actually did this through the whole catalog as a kid so I could pick what I wanted:

Again, it's been shrunken pretty illegible, I guess (yay, AOL!), but there's some stuff by The Jaz, Jazzy Jeff (the Funky Four + One one), Jonzun Crew, Just-Ice, Kid 'N' Play, Kid Rock, Kool Moe Dee and Kool Rock and the D.J. Slice on that page. In the pink column is, "TOP 20 - LAST MONTH'S BEST-SELLING RAP;" and the list reads:

"1. The Humpty Dance - Digital Underground
2. Intro: Turn This Mutha Out - M.C. Hammer
3. Funky Cold Medina - Tone Loc
4. Doowhutchyalike (Remix) - Digital Underground
5. It Takes Two - Rob Base and D.J. E.Z. Rock
6. Wild Wild West - Kool Moe Dee
7. Rollin' With Kid 'N Play - Kid 'N Play
8. Cuss Words - Too Short
9. Me Myself and I - De La Soul
10. Freaky Tales - Too Short
11. 6 'N the Morning - Ice-T
12. Parents Just Don't Understand - D.J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
13. You Gots To Chill - EPMD
14. Walk This Way - Run D.M.C.
15. Rock Dis Funky Joint - Poor Righteous Teachers
16. Paid In Full - Eric B. & Rakim
17. Ladies First - Queen Latifah
18. Planet Rock - Afrika Bambaataa
19. Freaks Of the Industry - Digital Underground
20. Let's Get It Started - M.C. Hammer"

So, does anybody else remember Personics, or better yet, still have their tapes?My friend Mike's had three Too Short songs, Schooly D's "Saturday Night," Boogie Down Productions' "You Must Learn (12" Remix)" and UTFO's "Bite It" (hope you don't mind me putting that out there - heh). What'd you guys rock on yours?

Personics - 1988-1991, R.I.P.


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