Debut Hit - 50,000 copies

BLUE SMOKE RELEASE

Blue Smoke was released on 26 June 1949, and Bart Fortune, Sales and Marketing Manager for the label, rolled out his marketing campaign.  Throughout New Zealand, window displays advertised the discs in Columbus Radio Centres. In cinemas, the National Film Unit's Weekly Film Review showed the Karaitiana Quintette recreating a recording session for Blue Smoke.  Pictured in white coats are TANZA staff (from left to right): John Shears, Tony Hall and Stand Dallas.  Leaning over at left in shirtsleeves is Bart Fortune, Sales and Marketing Manager.  Unfortunately Pixie Williams had already left Wellington, so was absent for filming.  

 

Initial public reaction was slow but radio play quickly escalated with Blue Smoke's first release selling 20,000 copies.  One year later, after its second pressing, a further 30,000 copies were sold.  The first all-New Zealand pop record was a hit and Pixie Williams was now a household name and 'reluctant' star.

 

Source:  Blue Smoke:  The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music 1918-1964, Chris Bourke.

As part of his marketing campaign, Bart Fortune emphasised the records cultural significance on the label: 


SOUVENIR NOTE of first record wholly processed in New Zealand.

 Recorded 3/10/48

  Processed 23/2/49


The Southern Cross declared the release to be 'an outstanding New Zealand industrial achievement,' while the only musical comment was about Senorita, the B-side, also written by Karaitiana and sung by Williams: 'a gay, inconsequential trifle written by the same composer in Latin American rhythm.' 

Source:  Blue Smoke:  The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music 1918-1964, Chris Bourke.



NATIONAL FILM UNIT

Recording Blue Smoke

The National Film Unit's Weekly Film Review showed the Karaitiana Quintette recreating a recording session for Blue Smoke.  Sadly, Pixie Williams had already left Wellington and wasn't present for the filming.

The National Film Unit was set up in 1941 to publicise New Zealand's war effort.  The unit's output soon evolved into the Weekly Review, a weekly reel screened in cinemas.  The reviews were a mix of newsreel and general interest stories and occasionally, full-reel documentaries.  It was the principal New Zealand Film series produced in the 1940's, ending in August 1950. 

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