Professor Wurzel's Guide
An 8-track tape is a small hard plastic cartridge that houses a continuous loop of analogue audio data stored on magnetic tape - and being continuous it did not require 'turning over' like a cassette tape. There were four programs of music on a tape, with two tracks on each program to create stereo sound. When the track was over, a very thin piece of metal in the tape would be sensed - this would cause the player that read the tape to start playing the next track. William Powell Lear, founder of Learjet, invented and patented the 8-track tape and its corresponding player in 1963, when he was looking for a simple, long-playing tape system to install in the business jets that bore his name.
8-track tapes, which could hold up to 45 minutes of sound, were introduced to the general public in 1966 when the Ford Motor Company in the USA included 8-track players as a cutting-edge accessory for the Ford Mustang. The music recording industry quickly saw the potential for a lucrative home player market and in the UK by the early 1970's, 8-track tapes began supplementing the vinyl album market - not only did they not warp or skip like vinyls but their light-weight plastic casings made them ideal for in-car listening. Back in the UK the 8-track didn't catch on anywhere near as much as it had in Canada and the USA. In those countries it survived into the early 1980s, but in the UK the ongoing improvements to the smaller compact cassette tape (the 'Musicassette') made this format more attractive to the music buying public and production of the 8-track tapes had all but stopped by the end of 1978.
The first three solo Wurzel albums were each issued simultaneously with an 8-track cartridge: 'The Wurzels Are Scrumptious' in 1975, 'he Combine Harvester' in 1976 and 'Golden Delicious' in 1977. All contained the same tracks and track order as their respective vinyl albums and the artwork on the cartridge was taken mainly unchanged from the LP sleeve.
Example 8-track cartridge - Golden Delicious from 1977
More details on the Wurzel releases in this format to follow soon!