Pates Tapes: The Perfect Playlist

Here at Gigseen, we like to think we can spot a real muso when we see one; passionate, totally consumed by music in all it's forms, and an enviable encyclopaedic knowledge on the obscurest music trivia. Well, that's exactly what we've found in Charles Pates. His website, Pates Tapes, was named 'the most important music website of 2011', and we want to see what all the fuss is about.

Created by Charles Pates, Pates Tapes is a project consisting of hundreds of hours of mixes from vinyl to tape, all made available to stream online. Through a labour of love, Pates has spent all his time meticulously organising and categorising his impressive collection of vinyl into specific genres and moods to provide us with handy mix-tapes for our listening pleasure. And, believe me, it really is a pleasure!

Pates' story surrounding the birth of his website is an endearing one:

"One damp dark night, I was comfortably crashed at a friends flat surrounding by his collection of album's and singles. The excitement as I rummaged through his 45's is hard to describe. Amundsen reaching the South Pole? Armstrong stepping onto the moon? You get the picture. Heads Hands and Feet, with Albert Lee on guitar, Lynda Lewis, Shocking Blue…the Dr Who Theme! I was gob smacked. The next morning I resolved to pick up a blank cassette, and lay these classics down on tape. In so doing I came upon the magic of tape making. A skill I'll warrant, that can only be performed by a human. The following evening, I had a tape that now finds itself in the HITS section of the web site; GOOD VIBRATIONS is its name.".

As Pates' record collection moved into seriously significant numbers (four figures, to be precise), he found his tapes were appearing in restaurants, bars and being played at events. Due to their accessible 45 minute format, they were ideal for dinner parties, gifts and nostalgia quiz nights. People also began to send him famous John Peel shows, as well as music from across the globe. It was only recently that someone suggested to Pates that his tapes should be transfered online, informed that content and playlists are "what people want". They weren't wrong.

When interviewed in 2011 (By Friends With Both Arms publication), Charles was asked about his own musical background and what he attributes to his vast knowledge. He replied, saying:

"I’ve always loved music, always been a collector; combine this with years of hanging out with people who also love music, and you have a rich musical stew. In regard to being a musician, I play the guitar, but I wouldn’t call myself a musician".

So far, Pates has been at the uploading process for roughly a year. Having digitised about 30 per cent of his (2,000 strong) collection, 10 per cent of it is online now. It's a long and ongoing process, making the site an exciting and ever-evolving musical environment for years to come.

This website really does have everything your musical heart could desire. An easily navigable site, you can pick and choose from the following mixtapes: 'John Peel Sessions: Joy Division Et Al', 'Africa: Juju Soukous Afro Beats', 'Easy: Slower Pop Salon Mix', 'Caribbean: Reggae Dub Ska Soca', 'Hits: Top Ten Nostalgia Quiz Tunes', 'Jazz: Swing Bebop Beat', 'Rhythm N Blues: Soul Stax Motown', 'Pop Salon: Drum Guitars And Friends', 'World: Global Mixes', 'Sunset: Instrumental Muscle Relaxer', 'Cafe: Music To Dine Talk And Read By'.

As well as the mix-tapes, once you've chosen a genre, there's a further 30-40 playlists sub-categorised, allowing you to select your preferred mood or feel. Just click and play. It's as simple as that. My particular favourites are the 'Caribbean' and 'Easy' mixtapes, with their 'Ragamuffin' and 'Summertime' playlists. Featuring everything from King Tubby, Jimmy Cliff and Gregory Issacs to Sam Cooke, The Beach Boys and Echo Steel Band, this really is a muso's heaven. What's your favourite?

Pates Tapes does carry one warning, though: once you delve into this magical, musical delight, you may find the hours elapse you with frightening speed.