I help out in a very modest way on a cool site called BlogCritics, where a bunch of passionate bloggers get to review everything from current affairs to cultural works and participate in an often articulate, always dynamic flow of ideas between the army of BC and the hordes of committed, or committable, commentors.
Today I came across this review of the NME C86 cassette, which provoked me into revealing the following little known story…
“I dunno if it’s interesting but some may already know that C86 was in fact only the latest in a whole series of NME Cassettes which started back in 1981 with the cleverly titled C81, can’t quite recall now if it was 81 minutes long but wouldn’t be surprised.
The whole series of NME tapes was born out of a conversation between myself and then NME journalist Roy Carr back when I was working for Rough Trade Records in London’s then ultra-cool Ladbroke Grove area.
I was the second of three members of what turned into one of the best ever PR teams, led by my immediate boss, the legendary late Scott Piering, originally from San Francisco and backed up by the inspired mania of the sadly also late French-American genius Claude Bessey.
Really can’t imagine why I’m the only one left alive now, as we were all living pretty much out there lifestyles, the one BIG difference I can think of is that Scott and Claude both smoked cigarettes heavily; Scott tried to get by on low tar brands but was occasionally tempted by the hideous beauty of Claude’s seemingly ever-present Gauloises.
Personally, I’d given up the killer weed one crazy night in Antwerp, Belgium, where I’d lived for a couple of years back in the mid 70s, but that’s another story.
C81 was made available by mail order and broke records for reader response, so both the record company and the music paper, then edited by the excellent Neal Spencer, possibly the NME’s last great Editor, were delighted to keep the series going.
A quick search turned up this link, which seems to be a Young Marble Giants fansite, the link leads to a photo of the artwork (it seems funny now to think that cassettes were actually hip and trendy then, all that tape!) and an artist listing that includes such greats as Scritti Politti, The Beat, Pere Ubu, Orange Juice, Cabaret Voltaire, D.A.F., the Specials, the Buzzcocks, the Raincoats, Josef K, Virgin Prunes, Aztec Camera, Red Crayola and Subway Sect amongst many more.”