THE BEATLES et al.: “Help!” Ah, the Nakamichi 500. What a cassette deck. The pause button was so precise that you could stop and start the tape flawlessly. I once tried to get as many different songs splices as I could fit on a 45 minute cassette. I think I got upwards of 40 different songs snippets on there. This opening for “Help” is just one example of how it works. I put this on every mixed tape I made for years. And it was decades before my daughters heard the original Beatles version. Their response was, where’s the opening? —John Stix
“Why Do Fools Fall In Love” (Joni Mitchell/The Happening/Spike Jones) Once again, it’s me using my vintage Nakamichi 500 cassette deck back in the day. I would input two different sources into the deck and mix them live on the fly. The Happenings were kind of a joke band, perhaps influenced by Spike Lee. Joni Mitchell was just all smiles, touring around with Jaco Pastorius, Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, Michael Brecker and Don Alias. It was probably one of the acclaimed jazz musicians’ better paydays and everyone involved was having fun. — John Stix
“Something’s Coming” (WEST SIDE STORY/Todd Rundgren): Sometime in the late ’60s I purchased a Nakamichi 500 Cassette Deck. That, along with my Dual 1219 Turntable was the pride of my stereo setup. My favorite function on the deck was the pause button. It was automatic. There was not a moment of hesitation, so if there was a break in a song I could pause the tape and whenever I let it go, it would be a flawless segue into the next song. It was magic. In this case I started with the soundtrack to West Side Story and “Something’s Coming” and segued into Todd Rundgren’s version of the same song. Magic! There was a difference in the key that Todd played in, but the Dual had a knob that let you dial in the speed and there you have it.