The Late Night Tales series started (if memory serves me correct) at the birth of the noughties, back when mix CDs could, and did, sell in their millions. Over the last 12 years there’s been such seismic changes in the way that music is consumed that the idea of a mix CD made up of widely available music is somewhat of an anachronism– and whether Tom ‘Groove Armada’ Findley’s latest compilation for the series is going to shift any units is pretty much gonna come down to the strength of the mix.
The theme is 70s/80s chilled soft rock, with a whole lot of guilty ‘pleasures’ woven together. There can be no faulting Findley’s ability to nuture a mix– he sequences tracks with real skill, respecting the songs as he subtly melts them into one another. He also appears to have a scarily deep knowledge of cheesy AOR radio, with album cuts from Toto rubbing up alongside big songs from Michael McDonald. Particular props should go to the excellent Fly Like an Eagle from Steve Miller, an odd ball mix of psychedelic keys and serious groove.
For the rest of the mix not-too-funky basses are plucked, gentle synth’s wash and emotions are worn whole heartedly on sleeves throughout. Is it ironic? I doubt it, I’m pretty sure that Findley has real affection for these Heart FM staples, and, cunningly they’ll also have a cache with a certain age range– the age range that will still fork out for a physical CD, or buy a whole mix from iTunes.
Despite this, you can clearly see that the album is a labour of love, rather than a cynical project, and if you enjoy a spot of guilty, easy listening pleasure, then this is a winning collection.