‘Unspooled: An Adventure in 8-Tracks’ by Tim Durling – Book Review

Can you imagine someone spending the precious time to write a book about 8-Tracks? 10 or more years ago and I would’ve said you would have to be nuts. As my love for music has grown and my appreciation for all formats of music, now I say…It is about Damn Time someone wrote a book about 8-Tracks. I have secretly been hunting 8-Tracks every time I go to a record store, an antique mall or even a yard sale, but have not found hardly any of bands I would remotely be interested in obtaining. I do have 6 Kiss 8-Tracks, but that is the extent of my collection currently. However, this book has sparked more interest in finding the ones for the bands I love.

The book is “Unspooled” An Adventure in 8-Tracks” and it was written by Tim Durling. When my buddy Mike Ladano told me about this book (he is actually featured in the book as well), I was actually excited and I went and bought a copy as soon as I went to Kickstarter and checked it out. I remember my brother having a bunch of 8-Tracks. He had Kiss and there was one by a band named Shark that I remember vividly. I remember how sometimes the song would fade out, you’d hear a click and the song would fade back in and finish. Some songs you would hear so much on the 8-Track that you expected the fade out, click, fade back in on vinyl, cassette or radio and I couldn’t comprehend why it didn’t. Enough about my experience with them, let us talk about the book.

Tim has given us a book that is both Entertaining and Educational. Wait…those two words do NOT go together! But they do for this book. It is made up of Tim’s personal stories, interviews of 8-Track Experts (there are some…really I promise) and interviews of collectors. The book is niche being about 8-Tracks but it is super niche in that it is about a certain aspect of 8-Tracks that most might not be aware and that is 8-Tracks from the 80’s and more specifically, 8-Tracks that are exclusive to Record Clubs. You know, like Columbia House where you could get like a million for 1 penny!

Tim goes through the years 1981-1988 and each chapter is a year and each chapter was broken down in to four parts. I also loved the personal touches at the beginning of each chapter with a brief story about that year in Tim’s life and always a childhood picture on an 8-Track. At the end of each Chapter, Tim lists the releases on 8-Track that were exclusive to the Clubs. You see, the 8-Track was dying out as Vinyl and Cassettes were king at the opening of the decade. When CDs came around the middle of the 80’s they started to die out even faster and they eventually stopped selling in retail stores. However, the Record Clubs still had them up until ’88. After that, they were no more…except over the years, some artist have issued them…he talks about that as well.

The book I have is a hardcover copy and let me tell you it is beautiful. The pictures are so bright and vivid that the books almost comes to life it looks so good. My pictures here do it absolutely zero justice as my shots suck. Trust me, the colors are really bright and beautiful. The artwork is just splendid. I love all the pictures of the 8-Tracks he has in his collection and those collections of people he knows.

The people featured in the book are also interesting. First up is the foreward of the book that is written by none other than the great Martin Popoff. If this rock & roll author is writing the foreword, that is enough endorsement for me right there to get this book. I have several of Martin’s books so I trust his word implicitly. Another story that is great is his discussion and interview with Kathy Gibson of Kate’s Tracks out of Texas. The knowledge you get from this interview is amazing as Kathy has made a career out of the 8-Track business. I think I learned the most from this chapter as I had no idea there was a world of people that still dug the 8-Track and it was their preferred method of listening to music. Who knew.

I could go on and on about the great stuff, but I want to leave that for you to explore when you go get the book. I believe Tim still has some left so go hit up his Facebook Page or YouTube Page for Tim’s Vinyl Confessions and I am sure he would be happy to sell you one…and you’d be better for it if you did. My Overall Score is a 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars and I’m not just saying that because I now know Tim. I really did enjoy this book. And I am now really trying to find more 8-Tracks for my collection. Weird thing is, I don’t have an 8-Track Player to play them on, but neither does Tim. He just collects because like me, he likes to have every different medium an album came out on. I mean, who doesn’t.

Below I have a picture of where Tim signed my copy. And I got a book mark and a magnet. The magnet is on my refrigerator where all magnets live. Thanks Tim for a great book!!

19 thoughts on “‘Unspooled: An Adventure in 8-Tracks’ by Tim Durling – Book Review

  1. Three cheers for Tim, and for this excellent review.

    Educational and entertaining is correct. Also a good reference guide for future possible collecting.

    I too appreciated the expertise of Kathy. Great stories.

    5/5 is spot on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That looks like a fantastic book. I’m a bit in awe that 8 tracks were part of the record club thing for so long. I honestly didn’t get that far into it all until after ’88 so I wouldn’t really have known, I recall 8 tracks falling off the Earth and barely seeing one after the early ’80’s. I may have to pick this up, it fills in a knowledge gap for me.

    Liked by 1 person

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