MIDLANDS REPORT. Part 1. c/o Talk of the North.
The Midlands has always been as prominent an area for rare soul as the North itself, and over the past few years, since Messrs. Levine and Curtis moved away from our scene, and Simon Soussans' apparent reluctance to send Russ Winstanley EMI discs, an increasing number of new sounds have been broken here.
Since this is the first issue, here is a quick look at some of the Midland venues.
The main venues these days are all pretty well known and well established, and although nowadays no place in the country can claim to be top class (too much accent on oldies
these days you see), I suppose they're as good as anywhere on a good day / night.
Currently gaining a good reputation, despite the burden of Chris King being on the D.J. line up, are the Coalville all-nighters. Millions of D.J.'s here with Soul Sam providing the interest, and the rest being a mixed bag of average or worse (apologies to Nev Wherry's collection).
The all-nighters are every other Friday, so afterinards, you don't have to wait too long for the pubs to open. Not too far from Marstons country either.
Without doubt the best place for a D.J. to play his new stuff without fear of clearing the dance floor is Nottingham Palais. The trouble is the D.J.'s aren't really equipped to take advantage of a not too knowledgeable but very enthusiastic audience. Sam always lets rip with the obscurities but Russ hardly sets the world alight with new stuff these days.
From Nottingham to Derby, and Tiffanys, who have staged both all-nighters and dayers at irregular intervals. Always a good attendance, although here again, on the whole, the crowd aren't really fussy if they know what they're dancing to or not, so even Chris King goes down well here.
Not sure what the situation is though, concerning future events, due to some scoundrels smashing the cigarette machine to bits at a recent do. Mind you, Chris King had probably just played "Floy Joy", which is enough to make anyone turn villainous.
The man in charge at Derby, Terry Sampson, certainly has access to some good venues, and I think he'd do well to get a settled bunch of D.J.'s worth travelling to hear, at a regular place. So how about Richard Searling, Soul Sam, Pat Brady and Johnathan at the K.G.B. every week.
O.K., Okay, Okeh? Good grief, how did he think up such a crap slogan.
Back to Leicestershire again, to Kirby Bellars, where all-dayers are held on the lsat Sunday of every month. Attendance at the last one was somewhat disasterous, and its difficult to see an improvement coming. I think they should revert back to the D.J. line up of the very first all-dayer, and then again, without private transport you might as well stage it in the Hebrides for all the difference it would make to getting there.
So apart from Newcastle Tiffanys which goes on and on, and the Locarno at Birmingham, that about sums up the major regular venues here in the Midlands. (I think).
On the mid-week scene, there's nowhere really worth travelling for, though I must give a quick mention to Cleo's in Derby (I'll do anything for a free pint, even Everards), which is every Friday, 900 - 1.00 . Nev Wherry and Soul Sam do alternate weeks, with Nev playing mainly oldies, worth going just to drool over his collection, However, if you're interested in new stompers, then Sams night is well worth a visit, as many of the Norths top sounds have had their first airing here. A few decent oldies mixed in as well, although myself, I haven't much time for oldies. Oldies spots I can understand, but I don't see the point of travelling miles to an oldies all-nighter, where, more often or not, you can hear the records at home.
Anyway, that's my hang up and no doubt whatever I say won't make a blind bit of difference to what you think, so onto the things which really count, the sounds. Here are five of the best kicking around at the moment, not just in the Midlands, but what the heck.
DON GARDNER, "CHEATIN' KIND" - SEDGERICK. First played I think by Colin Curtis at the Mecca at around the same time as Herbert Hunter, so it's been around some time. This bloke sounds so soulful he makes Sam Williams sound like Alvin Stardust. Not a stomper, but brilliant all the same. I'd love to see this one go, so be good boys and girls and dance to it, won't you.
MAMIE GALORE, "NO RIGHT TO CRY" - SACK. Another one that's been around a while without much exposure. This is very, very rare, with apparently, only one in existence, and that one isn't in this country, so if you hear this, it's odds on illegal. Unusual intro. (the bass player sounds half cut) breaking out into a very fast stomper. This is really brill. and a dead cert. for my all time top ten. Better than a pint of Pedigree.
LARRY CLINTON, "SHE'S WANTED" - DYNAMO. Once covered as Eddie Seaburg, this one too has had a good run without taking off, but that's due to rarity than quality. Larry sounds like a real pedigree supping burl, wailing over a stomping backing track about a lady of ill repute. Not incidentally, the same Dynamo which produced Stanley Mitchell etc.
THE PAR-FAYS, "WE GOT A GOOD THING GOING (OH BOY)" - FONTANA. After a few plays here and there under various guises (Devonnes, Persionettes), this one seems to have gone under, along with loads of other stuff (Dick Leslie, Robert L. Martin, etc, etc) shame because I think this is excellent. Great atmospheric intro. followed by extremely Motownesque female vocals. Very good sound so why not give it another try.
Four goodies there to look and listen out for, so 'til next time, keep dancin' to the Honeybees, and keep drinkin' the Marstons. Tim Finch.
MIDLANDS REPORT. Part 2.
There would seem to be some controversy over the first Midlands Report. As Editor (Pat Brady) of "Talk of the North" I would like to stress that the "off hand" remarks made about Chris King, and the Midlands crowd DO NOT reflect the editorial policy of impartial reporting and as such apologies for any distress caused (unintended) are in order. Mr. King has in fact helped to increase the circulation via purchasing the magazine in vast quantaties for which "Talk of the North" is grateful! I feel that the report printed below will clear up any misunderstandings and put the "Midlands Scene" in perspective.
Welcome to the second column reviewing happenings in the Midlands.
Lots of new sounds played since the last review, so read on.
Nottingham Palais' 50th All-dayer came and went, attracting the usual near capacity audience. Sounds upstairs were by courtesy of Sam's Soul Sound, Andy Lee, John Poole and Clive Jones, whilst downstairs, the funk fans were kept lolloping by Colin Curtis.
The crowd upstairs were their usual brilliant, enthusiastic selves, packing the floor and so allowing Sam to play a stream of new sounds. Many of these were covered up, like Zena Foster, which is his particular No.1. Not a world beater this one, but no doubt destined for big things. Others worth a mention included; Lee McCall - "He's a devil" (c/u); Charlie Gracie - "Inside outside, upside down" (c/u); The Barracudas - "No matter what you do" (Critique); Estelle Delmont - "You ain't ready" (c/u); The Reasons - "Baby baby" (United Artists); and Doni Burdick - "Out on the streets again" on yes you've guessed it, a cover up.
Andy and John are an excellent pair of 'second string D.J.'s', and keep up quite well with the big stuff. They played the more established sounds like Turley Richards, Nikki Blu, Peggy March and the incredible Wolfman - "Strange" on Okeh, which is only big at local level, but should be bigger. Sam caused a bit of a stir by finally uncovering "Soul Stompin " - Sons of Moses, revealed as "Heartbeat" - Bill Purcell.
The other main event was the Coalville All-nighter, which was the subject of the deliberate error in the first report . It's once a month of course, not fortnightly.
Apparently, one or two cases of dented egos resulted from the comments in the first report about the All-nighter. Although no offence was intended, I'd better put things right by saying that Coalville is a very good place, well run, with all the right facilities. Although I still feel the D.J. line up could do with one or more of the 'big name' D.J.'s to satisfy those of us who prefer to hear the top sounds as opposed to oldies, it's definitely well worth a visit.
I hope that puts the records straight, now back to the actual goings off.
A good size crowd (very good in fact), heard Nev Wherry finally do himself justice, doing an excellent spot of new U.K. stompers with the odd Holly St. James thrown in for good luck. Included in his spot were sounds by Carolyn Carter; Judy Scott; John Drevar; Helen Shapiro; Seth Martin (not sure of the spelling on that one); Peggy March etc. etc.
My new hero, Rob Smith, also did a good spot, which included, The Stokes - "Young man, old man", an instrumental with the same backing track as Benny Spellman's "Word game", Linda Elliot and Sam Williams, and that was only in the oldies room. I don't know who writes his scripts, but Rob's on par with Kenny Everett's Vidio Show (which coming from me is a compliment).
Sam was playing a few more cover ups, including "Gonna make me cry" - Jimmy Burns, which is incredible, and "Where do I go" - The Four Sonics, which isn't. It's got a very, very Mirwoodish backing track, but the vocals let it down. Could go big though.
With Chris King playing great oldies like Joe Matthews, it all added up to a decent night.
Neil Rushton was there, confirming the dissappointing attendance at the previous Sunday's Ritz, so it looks like the end for 100% 'Northern' Soul All-dayers there. I thought more folk would have turned out to try and save the day, but no. I was there, why weren't you?
For those of you who missed it, here are some of the sounds you missed hearing; Christine Cooper - "Country girl"; Jerry Wexler + Co. - "I wouldn't do anything (to hurt you)"; Ritchie Hampton (Frank Dell) - He broke your game wide open"; Laura Greene - "Can't help loving that man"; Deena Johnson - "I'm a sad girl"; Syng McGowan - "That's what I want"; plus Melvin Davis, The Inspirations, Cheryl Ann + Eddie Curtis - "Somebody to love".
Sorry I'm straying from the Midlands, but those sounds are too good to miss mentioning.
So, to finish off, here are a couple of real gems which deserve (much) more attention:-
TIM TAM - "DON'T SAY HI" (PALMER). "Don't say hi" is as good as "Wait a minute" is bad. I've not heard the vocal, but the instrumental is the epitome of the 100 m.p.h. stomper, though it's probably too fast to ever become the big sound it deserves to be. Once covered up as the Baltimore Brass, and played occasionally at the Burnley Rose Room All-dayers late last year (after Cleo's of course), this is incredible stuff, with a sledgehammer beat interupted by a couple of superb breaks. Don't know if this ever got released, as the only copy I've seen is a demo, but I don't see how Palmer could have bothered putting out "Wait a minute" and not this one. Stomp on.
NABAY - "BELIEVE IT OR NOT" (IMPACT). Staying in Detroit for the one which has / is been covered up as the Detroit Sound, which says it all really. I'm told this one was played around Nottingham about five years ago, resurfacing early this year, courtesy of Sam, very, very soulful vocals and ace mid-tempo backing combine to make this one of the very best, though it seems to have been overlooked in favour of Phil Coulter; Day etc. excellent record, why isn't this massive?
Yours stompfully, Tim Finch.