There are now over 13 million releases cataloged in the Discogs Database. Over 1 million of those are cassettes. The good ol’ fashioned tape is not as sought-after as vinyl, obviously, but the format is experiencing a resurgence in popularity recently thanks to reissues, new releases, and famous originals.
Unlike the most-wanted cassettes on Discogs, which highlights the exclusive, limited-edition releases that are coveted around the world, the following list is determined by the number of Collections that you’ll find these tapes in.
If you look at the full list of the most-collected cassettes, you’ll notice a lot of titles that won’t be seen below. That’s because this roundup focuses on the most-collected cassette releases, which is tied to a specific format, country, and year; we excluded any cassette that came in a box set.
What you will see is an interesting mix of original releases, mostly from the early 1990s, with a few new drops centered around Record Store Day and Cassette Store Day (known as Cassette Week in the U.S. for 2020).
What’s in your cassette collection?
We’re kicking things off with the longest title and artist name. This is a Record Store Day reissue of a really limited, highly coveted 1995 cassette. According to the database, the original was handed out to folks at Paris Fashion Week that year. It’s now available on CD and vinyl, too.
Nevermind ranks pretty high on the list of the most collect vinyl, but the cassette version is much higher. It has been reissued since then, but this is the original copy distributed in the U.S.
We’re seeing the same story for Dookie. While popular, it’s interesting to put the format into perspective; more people own the 2020 vinyl reissue (in a “dookie” color, no less) than the 1994 cassette.
This is a Cassette Store Day release of J Dilla’s 2005 seminal instrumental album, which was completed during the last months of his life. In this case, however, far more people have the cassette than the 2020 vinyl edition.
You’ll find Thriller on many lists, from the most collected albums on Discogs overall to Rolling Stone‘s ranking of the best albums of all time. It’s no surprise that the original cassette release can be found in so many collections around the world.
The self-titled album from Metallica is just the first tape on this list from the iconic thrash band. That being said, many folks consider “the black album” as the one that saw Metallica shift from thrash to heavy rock.
This year must have been big for cassettes because Ten is the third 1991 release among the most-collected tapes. It’s also the debut from Pearl Jam.
The first installment of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy made waves with its soundtrack of classic hits. This cassette version was a special Black Friday drop with Record Store Day in 2014, but other exclusive versions have been available anywhere from Walmart to Mondo.
This is the red version, specifically, but there is also a black tape. However, the recording (also referred to as Fight Off Your Demons) is only available on cassette (and, because we live in the 21st century, digitally).
Last but not least, another Metallica album. However, the juxtaposition with our other data-based cassette roundup is interesting. The 2015 Record Store Day reissue is among the most-collected tapes but the original 1982 demo is among the most-wanted. According to Lars Ulrich, there were only about 50 to 100 copies of the original; According to the Database, there were 10,000 copies of the reissue that sold out on Metclub (fan club) in one hour.
Feature image by Nicolás Olivares.