cassette tape blank

The Most Wanted Cassettes of All Time

It’s been over 40 years since the first Sony Walkman was available to consumers in Japan. Finally, there was a way to listen to music on the go. Carrying a stack of cassettes and spare batteries was a bit more of a hassle though.

Although cassettes have not experienced the same resurgence in popularity that vinyl has seen in recent years, they are still making a comeback (just look at Cassette Week as an example). Unlike the most-collected cassettes on Discogs, which offer a closer look at popular releases in the format, the most-wanted cassettes give us a taste of exclusive, limited edition. The following list is determined by the number of Wantlists that you’ll find the release on.

Keep in mind these are releases, not albums. A release refers to a specific format and time. Therefore, we excluded any cassette that would have been included in a box set.

It wouldn’t be a Discogs data roundup without mention of Pink Floyd. Hands down, Floyd is the most popular band on the site. The reason we didn’t specify a release year (for the record, DSOTM dropped in 1973) is that several editions of the cassette rank among the most-wanted list, starting with an unspecified reissue at No. 10 followed by the original cassette at No. 11.

This is the debut album from the Wu-Tang Clan and, arguably, the most well-known and influential — certainly one of the best hip-hop records of the 1990s (maybe of all time). Although many different versions and copies of Enter the Wu-Tang are available, this original cassette is highly coveted.

You’ll find an interesting comparison if you look at this list of the most-wanted cassettes and our roundup of the most collected: No Life ‘Til Leather can be found on both. However, the original 1982 version of this demo (of which Lars Ulrich says there are only 50 to 100 copies) is the most sought-after while the reissue for Record Store Day 2015 is the most collected.

Charles Cohen was a free jazz artist and early synth maestro. This recording was with a project called The Ghostwriters and serves as a great example of 1980’s electronic. The Ghostwriters only have three limited releases (this cassette, one LP, and on 12-inch), according to the Database.

This is Aphex Twin’s debut album. You’ll find CD and vinyl versions of the original release, but the cassette is more desired since fewer copies were created. Only 80 Discogs users can say that they have it in their Collections.

There were only 100 copies of this cassette and, as one Discogs user pointed out, “Even the bootlegs are impossible to find now.” Eccojams is often considered a gem among the vaporwave style. Chuck Person is an alias of Daniel Lopatin, the electronic musician who is probably best known as Oneohtrix Point Never.

One band, one album. It was only available on cassette for about 30 years. There are now vinyl and digital versions of the release available. This, however, is the original cassette from the ’80s.

Haruomi Hosono’s works have gained in popularity over recent years. According to the Database, this album (花に水 in Japanese) was commissioned by Muji, a Japan-based house goods chain, to play as background music in the stores. Despite the obvious retail ties, the music really holds up. It looks like a reissue is finally coming.

According to the Database, this self-released album was only dropped on cassette and only 33 copies were made. The band’s first official release wouldn’t come much later until 1997. The legitimacy of All Lights Fucked is still being debated due to its mysterious nature and the fact that none of the band members claim to own a copy. It also doesn’t appear to exist anywhere online. (As hilarious as this supposed digital version is, it’s obviously not legit.)

This is the perfect example of a recent release with a limited number of copies (100, to be exact) that leads to a hot resale market. Originally dropped digitally in 2011, the first time this vaporwave album came to a physical format was with this 2012 cassette. It has since been reissued, but the original run is obviously the most craved. Beware of bootlegs. We’ve blocked the sale of some in the Marketplace, but you can still see them in the Database.

Feature image by Namroud Gorguis. Article originally published in 2016. Last updated in 2020. 

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