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Invented back in 1963, the cassette tape revolutionised music. The first format to allow music fans to take their tunes on the go, the new medium of listening was portable, tangible and exciting. Until the CD was invented in 1979, cassettes dominated music, but five albums in particular excelled in the sales.

In recent years, cassette tapes have made a comeback. Over the last ten years, sales have been creeping back up from just over 3,000 tapes sold in the UK in 2012 to over 195,000 in 2022. As audiences crave physical media in an increasingly digital age, more and more new artists are adding cassettes to their merch stores.

But back in the 1960s and ‘70s, cassettes totally changed the way fans interacted with music. Walkmans and portable players started a chain of events that led to iPods and the on-the-go easy-access streaming services of today.

Now, with access to almost any album in history made at the click of a button, the choice of what to listen to is overwhelming. But back in the 1960s, there were clear best-selling albums that topped the charge and dominated cultural conversation. Five albums wildly succeeded incredibly well in their cassette sales as fans wanted to take the songs out and about in the world.

Obviously, Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album Rumours makes the top five most-sold cassettes in history. Featuring hits like ‘Go Your Own Way’ and ‘Dreams’, the album is one of the top ten highest-selling records in history, going platinum in the UK 21 times. Continuing into today, Rumours stays in the charts thanks to its totally timeless sonics and captivating lyricism.

Similarly, Bruce Springsteen’sBorn In The U.S.A is a predictable choice for the fourth highest-sold cassette tape in history. As a crowd-pleasing classic rock record, it’s no wonder music fans have always wanted to take the album out and about with them, craving it in a portable format. Tracks like ‘Dancing In The Dark’ and ‘Born In The U.S.A’ made the LP an instant classic and an enduring favourite today.

At number three, Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits is slightly more unexpected. The 1985 album was the first record in history to sell over a million CDs, with the frenzy to buy the record clearly translating to cassettes as well. While not quite as timelessly popular as the other albums on the list, Dire Straits remain a classic in the rock zeitgeist.

Obviously, Michael Jackson’s Thriller sits in the top two. Selling over 50 million copies worldwide across all formats, the 1987 album flew straight to the top of the charts upon its release and spent a record 37 non-consecutive weeks there. Hits like ‘Thriller’, ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Beat It’ have made this album one of the most defining and iconic records ever made, a phenomenon that clearly translates to cassette sales.

But at number one, the Eagles take the crown. Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 album features timeless classics like ‘Take it Easy’, ‘Desperado’, and ‘Hotel California’, making it a must-have for any cassette collection.

The best-selling cassette tapes:


The SPL Rocks!

Pulled up to my house today
Came and took my little girl away!
Giants Stadium 8/28/03


Last edited by Oats
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I purchased very few commercial cassette tapes, but bought many blanks from Uncle Steve on Canal Street in NYC, and recorded my records onto them.

My favorite cassette tapes were 2 Maxell tapes on which a friend recorded the WNEW-FM broadcast of the Capitol Theater Show from 1978-09-19.  Played many hundreds of times in my car, copied many times for others, but eventually usurped when I found a copy on CD of Piece De Resistance at a record shop in a strip mall somewhere of RTE 34 or 35.  Now the NUGS release is in regular rotation for long car trips.

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