Low Lights & Trick Mirrors

Occasionally a tune is mentioned on RR that someone used to have on an New Musical Express cassette. For the uninitiated, during the eighties the NME would offer readers music compilation cassettes for the price of the post & packaging – for £1.99 you could get an NME approved comtemporary compilation championing new artistes and an archive compilation usually taken from a major label and was an introduction to so much good music.
The playlist here is a tape from 1986 of ‘cool’ jazz from EMI/Capitol Records archives that has the usual suspects – Art Blakey, Cannonball Adderley, Chet Baker and a blues from Billie; as well as gems from Johnny Dankworth, Gil Evans and Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes amongst others.

Enough chat, just imagine it’s the wee small hours of the morning and you’re driving through the city streets, preferably in black & white, with this as your soundtrack …

11 thoughts on “Low Lights & Trick Mirrors

  1. That’s a good compilation indeed. I’ve fond memories of those tapes from the NME. When I was first diagnosed with diabetes in 1984, the doctor advised that I should go straight to Accident and Emergency to get admitted to hospital. My little brother, an early adopter of technology to this day, had a new-fangled Sony Walkman, and he pressed it into my hands as dad and I went out to the car. In it was a NME compilation, from Charley Records, of Chess and other blues and southern soul. Sugar Pie DeSanto – Soulful Dress was there, it was certainly the first time I’d heard that. I had a week in hospital getting stabilised, learning how to inject, test, manage a ‘hypo’, etc etc. I was 22 years old on a ward full of people at least 30 years older, some of whom were suffering long-term effects of diabetes. That tape and my lovely brother’s Walkman helped a great deal !

  2. Alba: That’s a great compilation that brings back many memories, I’ve got several of the cuts on there. I haven’t played it through yet, just skimmed it but I’ll save it for tomorrow morning. Can I make a request, would you post the tracklist so that we can see what’s on there and in what order?
    DaddyP, another great compilation and a great story to go with it, I know a lot of those tunes also.
    I started reading the Melody Maker back in the 40’s, it was all there was, and then in the early 50’s NME arrived on the scene, talk about competition, there were two definite camps, it was like mods and rockers or cripps and bloods! I stayed faithful to MM and looked down my nose at those upstart NME’s, neither actually dealt very much with what I was most interested in back then, jazz and blues.

  3. Cool, have a load of these: “Pocket Jukebox”, had Nina’s My Baby Just Cares For Me on it & it became a biggish hit 2nd time around. “Africa Rising”, “Indie City” & “C86” amongst others . Magnetic particles have probably long since fallen off & no way of digitizing. Thanks for the reminder though, Ali.

  4. What a good idea for a post, albahooky! I was a Melody Maker fan myself – I once won their student essay competition. (Boast!)

  5. Low Lights And Trick Mirrors
    Side 1: Billy May Main Theme From ‘The Man With The Golden Arm’/Chet Baker But Not For Me/Cannonball Adderley Sambop/Mark Murphy Honeysuckle Rose/Stan Kenton The Peanut Vendor/Jeri Southern It’s Bad For Me/Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes That Healin’ Feelin’/Peggy Lee Whisper Not/Elmer Bernstein Pursuit

    Side 2: Lord Buckley Excerpt From The Nazz/Lambert Hendricks & Ross Jackie/Johnny Dankworth Orchestra African Waltz/Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers Sam’s Tune/Billie Holiday Be Fair To Me Baby/Gil Evans Joy Spring/Jon Hendricks I’ll Die Happy/Lou Busch Orchestra Street Scene/Lynn Hope Blues For Anna Bacoa/Dakota Staton The Late Late Show

    there was an archiver who described this tape and said something along the lines of ‘the most out there on it is Art Blakey- and that’s only 3 and a half minutes long – usually only enough time for a drum solo… so nothing on here to scare novices off’ (not sure of the correct words but that was the gist) he loved it though… I think he said it was to cash in on ‘Absolute Beginners’ the julian temple film that hit the ground and stayed there.. the year seems about right..
    As ever I could do more research – but my research grant has been cut to: look it up on wiki.. (so it’s not really worth the effort!)

    I digitized an old Select tape when ‘spill first started and posted it – much fun and great memories… my desk is next to a window that has shelves 7cm wide.. full of free or sent off for cassettes – NME, melody maker, select, vox, musik, lime lizard, deadline etc etc….

    fav has to be ‘Gigantic’ from Melody Maker:


    • Cheers, Alba. Will check out the linkys. All Africa Radio was the one I was thinking of Straight No Chaser & Bushfire were also very good.

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