The shiny side has no recorded material on it unless 'print through' occurred. The latter condition often comes from the reel being tightly spooled and stored that way for many years. Most likely, the dull side is that which was recorded on. Also, most likely, is that the tapes are quarter inch in width and are four track format. Which means that two tracks (1 & 3) were recorded and then the reel was turned over to record the other tracks (2 & 4). To check, play the reel in one direction and then when it is completely at end, turn the reel over and play it again in the same direction. All this assumes he recorded on a four track machine. If the machine that was used to record the material was 'half track' and not four track, nothing will be heard if you turn over the reel. If the machine you are playing back is four track, and the tapes were recorded in half track, you will still hear the material but one of the channels will be a little less volume.
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