Back in 1987-88 I started getting big time into music and music bands as I got into rock music. As my family settled back in India after living for many years in Kuwait, I spent a lot of time with my cousins. I had a small selection of audio cassettes that I had bought from Kuwait and my sister had a larger collection. While at one of my cousin’s house I would listen to whatever they had playing on the stereo – which were selections of the Beatles, Deep Purple, CCR, Dire Straits & Scorpions. Where did they get all these tapes from? 15-20 songs of each band on 90 minute Thompson & TDK cassettes, the kind you get blank and can record on. From Atlantic Records was the answer!
Atlantic Records, locally called Kakkande Kada (Muslim man’s store), was this store located in Mattancherry, very close to my mom’s ancestral house, and they also had a small place in the city near the North Railways station which was short lived. They would record music albums for you on these blank tapes that they also sold at the store. The original tapes were usually imports from places like Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong & the Gulf – unofficial “greatest hits” releases of popular bands. For example a band like the Scorpions; you’d get two versions of their greatest hits – their singles and some other songs to fit 90 minutes. It might be pirated stuff but it was a great way for a lot of us to discover the bands from the West. Ofcourse they also had proper albums as well which they would record for you and the best part was that the recordings were always of excellent quality. They also had selections of rock and or pop hits from the 70s, 80s & early 90s.
Still greater was that you could pick & choose different songs by different artists from different albums in their list and create a mixed-tape of your favourite songs. My cousins & I would spend hours deliberating which songs we wanted at the shop. 1988-97 we spent our summers & other holidays together in our grandmother’s house and the evenings were always about the music, the tapes from Atlantic records were often along with the normal proper albums that we’d buy from record stores. Because of them I discovered bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica and countless others. Since those days I’ve bought the proper cds of the bands that I enjoy cause cassettes died out.
Sometime in the early 1999 they expanded to selling cds & cassettes along with recording the stuff for you. Our visits to the store decreased as they started to focus more on Hindi, Malayalam & Tamil music. I stopped going to my grandmother’s house in Mattancherry back in late 1999 due to my cousins & I having a falling out with an aunt & her family who lives in that house now. Last I heard sometime in 2002 or so Atlantic Records went out of business and someone else bought the store, demolished & remodeled it along with the space next door and it’s some other kind of store now. I saw the place the last time I went to that area, for my grandmother’s funeral back in 2008. I don’t listen to the tapes anymore as all music I listen to are on mp3s from the cds I buy but I’ll always remember the years of enjoyment I and my cousins got from them.