Record Collecting Miscellanies: Velvet Underground Ampex Snapcase Cassettes

A few years ago while skimming the thrift store bins, I stumbled across several Ampex snapcase cassettes from the Sixties. I had never seen anything like them aside from a Joan Baez cassette, One Day at a Time, with a similar slipcase, also manufactured by Ampex. Even after a bit of internet research, I have not found much information on them, except that they seem to be prime finds. I found two Velvet Underground cassettes and a Vanilla Fudge. Each is well-worn in a black case with a pasted on cover.
Of course, the Velvet Underground cassettes were more interesting, but none of them plays very well, so they are only useful as audio artifacts. Each was manufactured by Ampex in Elk Grove Village, IL. and belonged to J.R. Kregenow, who wrote on them for easy identification. The cover art is not very clear or and the titles are listed below as there is no back cover. The Vanilla Fudge cassette, Near the Beginning, only contains four tracks including a cover of Jr. Walker's "Shotgun," as well as a live version of "Break Song" that takes up an entire side. Interestingly, and seemingly common to older cassettes and 8-tracks, this final song is on the first side of the cassette.
I found some information concerning the VU cassettes on The Velvet Underground Web Page. They show three VU ampex cassettes, including White Light/White Heat, The Velvet Underground, and Loaded. I have White Light/White Heat, but I also found a copy of The Velvet Underground and Nico, and have been unable to find any other information about it. Both are on Verve and the song orders are different from the LPs. As the VU Web Page claims, "Sister Ray" has been labeled "Searching" on White Light/White Heat. The Nico cassette moves "Run Run Run" from the first side to the end, while also referring to "European Son" by its original title, dedicating it to Delmore Schwartz.
Each of these cassettes is pretty cool, even though they are showing signs of age. As a record collector, I love when I find something different. Short of finding original pressings of each of these LPs, these vintage cassettes were unexpected finds that made me want to get back out there scouring shelves -- who knows what else one might find.

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  1. Wow... not sure you know you did find a reat treasure! After collecting VU for more than 30 years this is the first time I see a VU&Nico Ampex Cassette! and with Eric Emerson. Congratulations!!
    The Wl/WH is also really rare stuff. Alfredo


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