STARTING FROM NOVEMBER 1971 . . . .
As I said in the last edition, and as it is easier for me to prepare whilst I am on holiday, I return to the subject of readers' all-time favorite sides, sounds and what-have-you. Despite my every plea to limit your choice to only one title ( an impossiblity I admit ), I find that lists vary in length from one title to one brave soul who sent in a listing of 108 titles! And even I can't accomodate that many in one edition! Any way, picking through the pile at random let's see what we come up with.
First off, Les Wyatt from Urmston chose Mickey Lee Lane's "Hey Sha-Lo-Ney" which has always had a steady following, and along with this, his friends sent in their all time slayers which were "Come see about me" by Mitch Ryder which is Ray's choice, and Rik nominates Joy Lovejoy's eternally popular "In Orbit" with The Prophets' "I got the fever" splitting honours. They are regular patrons of Manchester's Pendlum Club, and in their own words, they can't wait for the Wheel to re-open
( which, incidentally will not be too far away now, although it is debatable if the new management will retain all the character that the old one was renowned for. We'll have to wait and see ).
Timmy Dodson from Longton near Stoke-On-Trent nominates Lester Young's "Barefootin' in Chinatown" which was on the US Barry label, and was never issued over here. I know this was very, very popular a few years back, but I must confess it is not a sound that freaks me out personally. Maybe it is too simular to Robert Parker's "Barefootin' " for me because I was never nuts on that either. But still, don't just take my opinion as gospel - I know I'm in a minority over this one, so seek it out, give it a listen and decide for yourself.
J. Barton of Elton near Bury picks as his all-time winner The Duettes' "Every beat of my heart". Much, much in demand this one, and he also mentions in the same breath that other ever-so-much-wanted Verve waxing by Robert Banks - "Mighty, mighty good way".
Tony Clarke of Doncaster hasn't been collecting Soul for too long, but rates his favorite as Felice Taylor's "It may be winter outside", with The Miracles "That's what love is made of" running a very close second. Mel Evans of Heanor put Jackie Wilson's "I get the sweetest feeling" top of his list. What a tremendous artist he is, and I never cease to marvel at his vocal talent and genuine Soul artistry. Mel also cites June Conquest's "All I need" which was on Windy C in the States, Dobie Gray's "Out on the floor", The Prophets' "I got the fever", Bettye Swann's "Make me yours", and The Stairsteps' "Stay close to me". A right winning hand that lot.
Robert Hazell from Norwich is obviously into the Tamla-Motown scene and nominates Mary Wells' "My guy" with "Where did our love go" by The Supremes and Martha's "Dancing in the street" hot on it's heels. ( Incidently in passing I'm giving a real Seal of Approval to the new Donnie Elbert version of "Where did our love go" which Mojo are putting out. It really is incredible and a really great re-working of what really is a Motown classic, and I'm so enthusiastic that I'm thinking it might well be a contender for my top 20 at the end of the year ).
John Millard of Wellingborough goes for Homer Banks' "Hooked by love", and also adds Al Kent's "You've gotta pay the price", The San Remo Golden Strings' "Hungry for love", Bob Wilson's "All turned on" ( what an utter gem this one is! ), and Billy Butler's "Right track" ( now, incidently back in the £5 bracket amongst collectors ).
Dave Godin at Blackpool Mecca with Lynn, Denise and Bob, and the
legendary "Boogaloo" from Manchester. c/o Blues & Soul 1971.
Soul Brother Tony Jebb who is the ever popular soul-brother who delivers the goods unfailingly to the brothers and sisters at the Blackpool Mecca every Saturday night has sent a really interesting selection. Mr.Soul-satisfaction picks "Mighty good way" by Robert Banks which he reckons is probably his all-time favorite, and also tips his hat to Little Richard's "I don't want to discuss it" which is really growing into monster proportions these days, and which, yes Tony, was the official "B" side when first put out over here on Columbia. Rose Battiste's "Hit & run", Mamie Galore's "It ain't necessary" and Nella Dodds' "Come back baby" complete his selection, and believe me they are all ace sides which you can really have confidence in because this ace brother really knows and loves his Soul music. Right on Tony!
Alan Miller and Bruce Hickman, two buddies from Watts Cross in Kent settle for Gene Chandler's "Nothing can stop me" - another side that sold well, but has since become rare again. Stephen Smith of Highbury in London goes for Bobby Womack's "What is this" with Bettye Swann's "Make me yours" hot after it. Ian Levine ( that walking mine of Soul from Blackpool ) has settled for Rose Battiste's "Hit & run" and this from a collection of upwards of four and a half thousand Soul singles - so that's a mighty great compliment to Rose and the ever-loving Revilot / Ric-Tic combo.
David Cudworth of Allestree has three favorites that tie for his number one slot - Bobby Williams' "Baby I need your love", The Spinners' "I'll always love you" and The Poets' "She blew a good thing". Allen Cakwell is at present living in Germany but used to live near Doncaster. His consistent winner is The Incredibles' "There's nothing else to say baby" - oft-cited this one, and a real Soul classic in my opinion.
Well, there are a few classics and gems for you to get seeking, and hope some of them will be new delights for you to discover and enjoy. In the next edition I hope I'll be able to write up my experiences and adventures on my recent trip to the States and tell you what Soul-land USA is doing, thinking and grooving to in 1971.
So keep the faith whilst I'm gone. Right on now!
"Secret Sounds" at The Wheel. c/o Dave Godin ( B & S 1971 )
As "Secret Sounds" should not and can not remain secret forever. I thought it about time to peel off someof those white labels and reveal the details that lie beneath. In doing this one risks the ire of some, the derision of others. ( "some secret - everyone knows about that one" ), and the approval of the boot-leggers ( who will only stay in business as long as you buy their wares ). Anyway, here are a few sounds, and at some time or other during the year they were BIG. First is The Ad-Libs' super classic "Nothing's worse than being alone" on the Share label. This one started off when I took my copy to The Wheel last year, and since grew to monster proportions. Penned by Van McCoy and his mate Joe Cobb, it is, quite simply one of those all-time greats that one will never tire of hearing. And those lyrics - we've got to use them as this week's lyric turn-on:
"To be or not to be, in love with you is the question. And so I search my heart and try to find the perfect answer. But no matter how I choose, either way I'm gonna lose; If I stay you'll break my heart, and yet I'll die if we ever part. So I'll take my chances and stick with you, cos nothing's worse than being alone. Part of the heartbreak I'll have to suffer through, nothing's worse than being alone. With you I know my life is bound to be full of sadness. I could find someone else, but no one else can bring me gladness. Eenie meenie miney-moe, should I stay or should I go. If I stay you'll make me grieve, and yet I'll die if you should ever leave. So I'll take my chances and stick with you, cos nothing's worse than being alone . . . . teardrops . . . . heartaches . . . . nothing's worse than being alone . . . . sadness . . . . loneliness . . . . nothing's worse than being alone . . . . " A fantastic sound, and a record that could well be a surprise hit if it were ever issued. If it is, and it does make it, then remember you read it here first! Another secret sound that was big was James Bounty's waxing on Compass "Prove yourself a lady". A real pile-driving thumper this one, it was not the instant hit I thought it'd be when I played it at The Wheel last year, but since then the penny has dropped, and . . . need I go on. I won't hype you to no bum sounds - if I tip it, then sincerely I reckon it'll win it's way, but if I tip a side as a good disco sound I do really reckon its chances.
The big Wheel keeps turning. c/o Black Echoes.
The Twisted Wheel is a legend amongst the Northern fraternity, being without doubt the most fondly-remembered location of all time. Here then, to give us an insight into some of the sides that were played is ex-Wheel soulspinner and respected collector Lez Cokell.
THE ROW going on at the moment on whether to play new records or old was never a problem at the 'Twisted Wheel'. They just had to be good Soul records!
But, arguing with myself, I never could say 'Get On Your Knees' Los Canarios ( Major Minor 532 ) a good record, or class 'La La La La La La' The Blendells ( Reprise 20291 ) even as Soul.
So maybe things have not changed that much. Anyway, the reason for this column; The original 'Twisted Wheel' was situated in Brazenmore Street - starting around 1961 - playing mostly Pop until the 'Folk Blues' fad. This hit the country about '63 ( although it had a following for years before
In this era great standards were released in Britain - missed at the time, but revamped two years later down the 'Wheel' by DJ at the time, Roger Eagle. These include:
'Boy from New York city', Ad Libs ( Red Bird 10.102)
'I don't wanna fuss', Sugar Pie Desanto ( Pye 7N 25267 )
'Gonzo', James Booker ( Vocation 9177 )
'The swim', Bobby Freeman ( Pye 7N 25280 )
'This diamond ring', Sammy Ambrose ( Stateside 385 )
Just to mention a few. It had started - people were missing the records first time around. The rare sounds were coming into the Soul scene.
It was late '64 when the 'Wheel' got it's new home in Whitworth Street, and not long after came the first all-night sessions ( as they were called then ).
The late sixties did nothing to change the format and the kids danced the night away to great classics like -
'Mr Bang Bang Man', Little Hank ( London 10090 )
'Playgirls love', Five Stairsteps ( US Windy City 602 ) Hey that was my first import !
'Turn back the hands of time', Bobby Adeno ( Backbeat 552 )
'The entertainer', Tony Clarke ( Chess 8025 ). And many hundreds more still around to this day.
Although Britain did not get many US Soul acts in those days, the 'Wheel' always got the ones that came to these shores.
I shall always remember the heavy gang. The two very large ladies The Soul Sisters singing about that 'Good Time Tonight ( London HLC 9970 ) and the fat man himself, the late Billy Stewart, telling us about his 'Secret Love' ( Chess 8045 ).
But the guy who always pulled in the best crowd must have been Ben E. King. His biggy at the time was 'Cry No more' ( Atlantic 4043 ). What a guy and what a performer.
Another name that will always be associated with the 'Wheel' is Brian '45' Philips - he was the Soul spinner for a number of years, starting some of the sounds that are still around today - including:
'I hurt on the other side', Jerry Cook ( Capitol 5981 )
'Zig zag lightning', Little Johnny Taylor ( Galaxy 748 )
'Before it's too late', Jackie Day ( Sue 4040 )
'Festival time', San Remo Strings ( Ric Tic 112 ) And a lot of others that are still burning up the oldies decks. And where does yours truly fit in; well, I only got a look in a year before the closing down in '71.
Before I go here's a list of records popular in the early part of the seventies and still worth looking out for:
'Gotta draw the line', Darrow Fletcher ( Groovy 3007 )
'Up and down the ladder', Intruders ( London 10069 )
'Pick me', Vibrations ( Columbia 8175 )
'You turned my bitter into sweet', Mary Love ( King 1024 )
'Keep my woman home', Danny White ( Sue 4031 )
'Baby I love you', Howard Tate ( Verve 555 ).
Anyway, while all these sounds were hitting the dance floor - because of the usual all-nighter hassles - the manager Mr Ivor Abbadi must have thought there was an easier way of making a living. He plushed up the place, gave it a new name ( The Placemate ) and catered for the stacked heels, wide trousers and flared skirt mob.
The 'Wheel' had finished its life and become a legend in its own right.
COKELL'S all-time greats :
"The Drifter" - Ray Pollard ( United Artists )
"Have a good day" - Hamilton Bohannan ( Brunswick )
"T.L.C." - P.J. ( U.S. Tamla )
"My baby needs me" - Mellow Fellows ( U.S. Dot )
"Hello stranger" - Barbara Lewis ( London )
"Countdown ( here I come )" - Tempos ( U.S. Canterbury )
"Dancing on a daydream" - Soulvation Army Band ( U.S. Soulvation )
"Nobody but you" - Esther Philips ( U.S. Roulette )
"Mister Soul Singer" - Vivian Verdree ( U.S. Atco )
"Oo Linda" - Leroy Taylor ( U.S. Brunswick )
"Thankful for what I got" - Barbara Lewis ( Atlantic )
"I need you" - Diane Jenkins ( U.S. Creative Funk )
"The girl's alright with me" - Temptations ( Stateside )
"After hours" - J.R. Bailey ( U.S. Toy )
"Permanent vacation" - Marion Sodd ( U.S. Mad )
"Take it baby" - Showmen ( Action )
"Who will do your running now" - Marvin Smith ( U.S. Mayfield )
"I believe in miracles" - Jackson Sisters ( Mams )
"Casanova" - Ruby Andrews ( U.S. Zodiac )
THE TORCH. by DAVE EVISON. c/o New Soultime.
There have been many great "All-Nighters" on the Northern Soul circuit and in many people's eyes the legendary Torch was unbeatable. When Siz approached me and suggested I wrote a brief history about it, I was delighted indeed privelidged to take on such a task . . . . . then I sat down and realised that one could very easily create a complete book never mind a few pages, consequently I hope ex-patrons of the Torch will forgive me, as I am well aware that due to limited amount of space, a magnitude of memories and occurences have inevitably been excluded.
As a veteran of every Torch All-nighter, I must confess to having a very soft spot for what to me was the ultimate in N.S. havens. Situated slap bang in the middle of rows of terraced houses, the Torch stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb in Tunstall, one of the fine towns of Stoke-on-Trent. Like so many other celebrated all-nighters, the Torch was very well established prior to getting the coveted all-night licence, but in all honesty without the now famous 8 - 8 Saturday / Sunday spot, the collapse of it would have been inevitable. Chris Burton, a house-hold name on the 'scene' was in charge from the very beginning to the tragic closure. What many readers may be unaware of is that the Torch started life as the 'Golden Torch' in the early sixties, catering for the general pop and rock and roll audiences every night bar Tuesdays and Thursdays. As a local lad I spent most of my youth in the place with such now well known characters as Colin Curtis, Frank Elson, and Keith Minshull. In fact Keith must surely be the longest running regular D.J. to date as my first ever attempt at dancing was in fact to the sounds supplied by him over twelve years ago. Other D.J.'s included Dave Plumb, Chris Sweeting and later on a Wednesday night Colin Curtis, and on Fridays in '71 yours truly with Phil Morgan. (He also had the unenviable job of 'hearding' the live acts from Chris Burtons office down the tiny wooden stairs, through an average all-nighter attendance of 800, across the dance floor and up a flight of stairs to the wings of the stage.)
More about the all-nighter later though, I have so many personal memories of the Torch as it became my home virtually, but a few points of interest must be recalled i.e. how ironic it is to think that one of the greatest names of our music Garnett Mimms attracted only forty five punters including me, one wintery night long before all-nighters. Legendary stars of our music who made Torch appearances were many. Of course with the Twisted Wheel in full swing the majority of acts 'doubled' with the Torch starting in Stoke and moving onto Manchester. Here are just some of the acts who gave their everything on the hallowed stage of the Torch; Fontella Bass, Edwin Starr, Ben E. King, Drifters, Doris Troy, J.J. Jackson, Oscar Toney Jnr., Otis Leaville, Detroit Emeralds, Jnr. Walker, Archie Bell and the Drells, O'jays, Roy 'C', Sam and Dave, Bob and Earl, Mac and Katie Kissoon, and of course Major Lance who's vast live talents were uncovered mainly thanks to Chris Burton. So popular was Major that well over the limited amount of soul fans from all over the nation quite literally shook the whole building; jam - packed, they stood like a seething mass, and hung from the balcony as though the Torch was a lifeboat. It was positively frightening, as had there been a fire there is no doubt that we would have become a large human, disco inferno. Regardless of the huge risk of literall suffocation the event was something I have personally never experienced even slightly like since. It could have lasted a week for us all as the atmosphere was electric and the might of the devoted fanatics was too over whelming for the Major who cried tears of joy at a reception which even the Apollo could never have equalled. All of this was captured in the live album Major recorded that night December 9th 1972. Another long serving Northern jock, and my buddy, until recently was Martyn Ellis and it was he who had the memorable privilege of introducing Major, and what a truly professional job he made of it. The other All-nighter D.J.'s were the local lads Colin and Keith, from Burton-on-Trent, Alan Day who made his name at the 'Up the Junction' All-nighter in Crewe, and of course the very Blackpool Mecca 'spinner' Tony Jebb. Other occasional 'Kingspinners' as they were known were Pep from Walsall, and Ian Levine another Mecca man (yes, the very same . . . .)
With regards to the building itself; the premises were pretty old as it started life as a church, was converted into a cinema and Chris bought the property and so began life of a dance hall which as the years rolled on proved to be a major land-mark in the unique history of our enviroment. Luckily the 'commercial explosion' of a few years back, arrived after the club had terminated; for in the early seventies, although expanding rapidly, the Torch was able to cater for all-comers and the 'happy family' image remained in contact with everybody sharing a genuine interest in all that it took to be a Northern Soul fanatic. This desire of absolute involvement both musically and otherwise showed admirably in the responce which each and every record received, even first time spins were frantically danced to. More than ever before, we all wanted to do our bit to show our appreciation and I can never recall an empty dance floor. We danced as though our lives depended on it and as each Saturday passed by it was amusing to notice how various groups of Brothers & Sisters from certain areas of the country invariably "claimed" a certain part of the dance floor, and endeavoured to keep it from week to week i.e. the Manchester crowd were to the left of the stage at the front with the Cheltenham & Gloucester "clan" bordering onto them. This does tend to suggest that these groups isolated themselves from the others, on the contrary, this was not the case it was "dancing etiquette", in fact the beauty of this venue was the incredible warmth and friendship shared by each and every member. Unity was the secret weapon of the Torch and an unquenchable thirst for more, more, more. When I think back to those days of "Ben Sherman's", "Brouges", "Levi's", and "Brut", I always recall just how desperate we were to let the whole country know that here was a phenomenal brand of music with it's unique minority of fanatical supporters virtually bursting for some sort of recognition. In the Torch era our only reward for demonstrating the vast talents of black music was the general public acceptance of Tamla Motown, and the odd few Stax, Atlantic and Stateside sounds. It was like being trapped in a pressure cooker, but we would never have believed that our dream of success for under-rated black artists was about to blow up in our faces. The Northern Soul "powers that be" totally misrepresenting the initial aims of it's followers by presenting the "great big world" outside with what they considered the Radio 1, Top Of The Pops lovers would be able to accept. So with greedy visions of vast profits at the Northern Soul followers expence the utterly bewildered majority of the country was presented with mass produced, painfully bad imitations in the shape and form of "The Javelles" and the completely soul-less "Wigan's Ovation" which really added insult to injury as we became the laughing stock of the nation, and before we knew it hundreds of sightseers were in our midst. Needless to say when they discovered what our music was really like, they retreated to the wailings of the "Bay City Rollers" and other non-entitys posing as musicians and far worse rammed the lid back on our pressure cooker . . . . . . . . or was it worse? As it seemed so relieving to realise that by giving our musical product to the ignorant, it would have devastated our own chances as a secret underground family, regardless of how humiliated we felt at being sold down the river by our so-called ambassadors masquerading as promoters of our music but happily most of this happened after the Torch and other true Northern clubs had slipped away. The Torch was famed for it's discovering and launching of scores of "CLASSIC" records. America was ripe for the picking and soul was the influx of so many brilliant records, it was indeed unusual to hear the same record all that often. Very rarely were "oldies" played such was the availability of new material. Some of the sounds "discovered" at the Torch included the following now "classics" Sam & Kitty - "I've got something dood", Fuller Brothers - "Times a wasting", Eddie Parker - "Love you baby", (One of my all-time faves), Fathers Angels - "Bok to Bach", Just Brothers - "Sliced tomatoes", Producers - "Lady, lady, lady", Sequins - "Case of love", Soul Twins - "Quick change artist", to name but a few. London played a major part in the back up of records and it was strangely bizarre to have to travel into the heart of anti-northern territory in order to secure and capture some of these future monsters for our own followers. I recall a guy called Graham in Rupert Street who would wait to hear the 'password' "Torch" and would produce from his archaeic hand-cart off Piccadilly Circus, literally piles of mouth watering sounds. Bradford market was also a famous donor of records to the Torch, as was probably the most important of all sources Ian Levine. It's tragic to think that presently he is suffering abuse from people who are totally unaware of his vast contibution to our music. Levine had the money, but in all fairness, money could not buy an exceptional talent for finding the perfect records which he had. His jealous critics have always (and did at the Torch) attack his questionable personality, conveniently disregarding this unique ear for good music, indded an important 'cog' in the Torch wheel.
Another D.J. who tends to get a little unfair stick occasionally was, as I mentioned Keith Minshull; next time any of us giggle at his antics or even the occasional odd choice of sound (and I am in no position to talk of that) remember that Keith Minshull was the insistent young lad in the mid-sixties who pleaded with Chris Burton to let him play this 'new' type of Soul in his club. Well done mate, it played off, thanks for giving me the opportunity of becoming part of Northern Soul's most exciting and productive era . . . . that of the irreplaceable TORCH
Golden Nights at the 'Legendary' Torch All-Nighter.
THE VA-VA STORY. by RICHARD SEARLING. c/o New Soultime.
At mid-morning in April '73 I was working in the Global Records Offices in Manchester when the 'phone rang. At the other end of the line was one of my friends from Bolton, a D.J. called 'Wick' Barratt. He made me an offer which was eventually, although I didn't realise it at the time to change my whole life.
He asked me if I would like to D.J. at an All-Night Soul Session that had just begun in Bolton at a club called 'Va-Va'. Evidentely, my name had been put forward by several soul fans in the area because of my involvement at Global and my record collection. Only a month earlier my answer would surely have been 'no' - But having just returned to England after a 3 week trip to the States (Philadelphia) and being armed consequently with most of the current top sounds I fairly jumped at the challenge.
So the night after (Friday) I found myself 'slaving behind the hot turntables' at Va-Va from 1 - 8 AM, spinning (if my memory serves me correctly) sounds like 'One in a million' (Maxine Brown) 'Love is like an itching' (Timothy Wilson) 'Tainted love' (Gloria Jones) 'Last minute miracle' (Shirelles) 'Slow fizz' (Sapphires) 'Just ask me' (Lenis Guess) amongst many others.
As anyone who ever went to Va-Va's will be aware the club held around 400 people when full, and was fairly 'plush' for an all-nighter, with plenty of comfo table seating around for those who became physically exhausted to 'crash out' on - although that rarely occured. Sectioning off the small, tiles dance floor from the rest of the club was perspex transparant plates into which people usually stumble - all in the course of a good nights' fun.
The initial attendance on that first all soul-nighter was around 100, and this gradually increased until, around June/July it was usually for 300 - 400 regulars to be present from all round the country. There was always a large Yorkshire Contingent (hello there Bob, Paul, Dave, Andy and all the rest) and they were all very loyal and never missed a week, like so many more of the super people who came along every Friday.
I mentioned a few sounds earlier in the article, they were all tremendously popular, but obviously other records were featured over the following months, some taking off, others remaining semi-underground until later years. Examples of this are 'Love is wonderful' - Paula Parfitt (now very popular indeed in Yorkshire) 'No.1 in your heart' - Herbie Goins (Parlaphone), 'Baby I need you'- Marsha Gee (Uptown), 'Laws of love'- Volcanos (Arctic), 'Easy baby'- Adventures (Compass), 'Worth every tear I cry'- Dee Dee Warwick (Mercury), 'What love brings'- Kenny Bernard (Pye), 'Can it be me'- Mel Williams (Modern), 'Hide nor hair'- Earl Grant (Decca), and 'I don't mind'- Carolyne Cooke (RCA). Anyone who remembers the tremendous full- page ads in 'Blues and Soul' each fortnight will be able to see most of the other sides we played regularly.
I say 'we' because I was helped out now and then by Marty Ellis (usually every week), Pep, and Alan Day - the latter having quite the largest record case I've ever clapped eyes on. I used to do between 5 - 7 hours each nighter as they ran sometimes 1 - 8 AM, and other times 2 - 8 depending on how busy the earlier 'pop' session had been. The car park outside was full of people "Wheelin' and Dealin' " from 11PM onwards, all ready to race downstairs when the first 'Northern' side was played.
So, from a 'Luke Warm' begining in mid-April, May and June saw Va-Va become firmly established as a venue to be reckoned with, and all the nighters in July were absolutely packed with people travelling from all over the Midlands and South of England. This was the strength of Va-Va. People travelled week-in, week-out to meet up with friends, just like they had done at the 'Wheel' and more recently, 'The Torch', 'The Pendulum' in Manchester had many a bumper on Fridays with Va-Va - bound people choosing that well-loved venue as a meeting place.
Then, just as word was spreading fast about the new Friday all-nighter in Bolton, a crook appeared that was eventually to prove to be the downfall of Va-va.
Like so many other great all-nighters it was to be drugs that had the final say in which way the club was finally forced to close down. During a casual look around the club, drugs were found, and the management, quite understandebly became worried about their relations with the Police who had discovered the 'Pills'. Nothing was said on that Friday in August, but on the following Wednesday I received a phone call from the manager saying that the Va-Va all-nighter was 'No more.'
Of course it was too late to stop the regulars driving on that fateful Friday, but even worse than that, 2 whole coachloads drived for their first visit to Bolton from Cheltenham, and they must have been redilly sick. I did from 12 - 2 AM behind the decks that night and lots of people were fairly close to tears I can tell you. The last record I ever played at Va-Va was Lynne Randells super 'Stranger in my arms' and I said goodbye and thanks to about 500 dissappointed all-nighter fans because that night I felt and still do to this day that we had finally been 'discovered' at Va -Va, but at least we went on the highest of notes.
It all seemed so black that last Friday, but unknown to all of us, another all-nighter was to open nearby only 5 weeks later at Wigan, the rest is just history.
Thanks to everyone who supported what many people consider to be the No.1 all-nighter of all time. I know I know I enjoyed every minute of it - and 4 years later it's nice to look back on what proved to be quite a stepping stone for me.
Looking back. An article written by Dave Mc.Cadden.
I thought it would be interesting to look back at the sounds we were playing just as I came on to the scene. Perhaps to see where we went wrong, and to ask what happened to those sides never spun again. When I first became involved with Northern Soul in January '73, there was no Wigan, but the scene survived before Wigan came along, and it will indeed still continue after it has gone (as it inevitaly will). Here then is the top 20 records in the clubs I visited at the time. Even then I was writing them down, and as you can see I've not stopped writing since.
Jan '73 Va Va's Bolton. Hurt on the other side-Jerry Cook, Just ask me-Lenis Guess, Key to my happiness-Charades, Countdown-Tempo's, Wanting you-Jimmy Bee, Love's like an itching in my heart-Timothy Wilson, Walk like a man-Johnny Moore, I can do it-The Autographs, I've got something good-Sam & Kitty, I got to find me somebody-Vel-Vets, Everything's gonna be all right-P.P.Arnold, Feels good-Bob Wilson, Love's like quicksand-Snady Wynns, Don't bug me-Diplomats, River of tears-Royalettes, Bok to Bach-Fathers Angels, Black is black-Lord Sitar, Breakaway-Valentines.
Well I only wrote 18 down.
Jan '73 Samantha's. I got something good-Sam & Kitty, Quick change artist-Soul Twins, Little Queenie-Bill Black, Remember me-Whispers, Time's a wasting-Fuller Brothers, Love you baby-Eddie Parker, Breakaway-Valentines, I can't get enough of your love-Johnnny Sayles, Wanting you-Jimmy Bee, I can't get away-Bobby Garrett, Ooh pretty lady-Al Kent, Stay-Virginia Wolves, Lady,lady,lady-Producers, What would I do-Tymes, Tell me it's just a rumour,baby-Isley Brothers, What would I do-Superiors, Everything's gonna be all right-P.P.Arnold, Cracked up over you-Danny White.
June '73 Wigan Rugby League Club. DJ-Russ Winstanley. I got something good-Sam & Kitty, Blowing my mind to pieces-Bob Relf, Hit and run-Rose Battiste, Let her go-Otis Smith, Let's have a love-in - Flaming Embers, Earthquake-Bobbi Lynn, Girl across the street-Moses Smith, Satisfy me baby-The Sweets, I'm not built that way-Hesitations, Put your arms around me-Sherrys, If that's what you wanted-Frank Beverly, Oh Linda-Leroy Taylor, Love is getting stronger-Jason Knight, I worship you baby-Glories, I've been hurt-Guy Darrel, Queen of the go go-Rex Garvin, Slow fizz-Sapphires, One in a million-Maxine Brown, Everything's gonna be all right-P.P.Arnold, Purple haze-Johnny Jones, Living a lie-High Keyes.
July '73 Blackpool Mecca. DJ's Minshull/Curtis. Wait till I get to know you-Bobby Treetop, Nerves of steel-Gino Parks, Girl across the street-Moses Smith, Ain't that something-Brice Coefield, Heartaches away my boy-Christine Cooper, I'll save the last dance for you-?Damita Jo, Hide nor hair-Earl Grant, This man-Wally Cox, I still love you-Superlatives, Open the door to your heart-Mob, Working at the go go-Butch Baker, Desiree-Charts, We must be doing something right-Joan Moody, Blowing my mind to pieces-Bob Relf, Satisfied-Ben Aiken, If you ask me-Jerry Williams, You hit me right were it hurts-Alice Clarke, Stiring up some soul-Marketts, Love is like an itching in my heart-Timothy Wilson, There's that mountain-Trips.
July '73 Pendlum Club Manchester. DJ's Dave White/Barry Tasker. Working at the go go-Butch Baker, I'm in a world of troubles-Sweet Things, Just ask me-Lenis Guess, Countdown-Tempo's, Tainted love-Gloria Jones, The right direction-Clara Ward, There's that mountain-Trips, Blowing my mind to pieces-Bob Relf, Girl across the street-Moses Smith, Queen of the go go-Rex Garvin, I got to have all of your love-Mill Evans, Wanting you-Jimmy Bee, Grooving at the go go-Four Larks, Hurt on the other side-Jerry Cooke, You hit me right were it hurts-Alice Clarke, I got something good-Sam & Kitty, Inky dinky-Dramatics, Let her go-Otis Smith, Just like the weather-Nolan Chance, Everything's gonna be all right-P.P.Arnold.
(Brings tears to my eyes that list).
So, there you can see, no disco discs, no Joey Dee's, no new releases. The question is 'are we better off?' or have we gone to pot. But just because those were top sounds, that doesn't mean that no pop records were played. Theer were still things like "Bless your soul"-Dreamlovers, Guy Darrel, and not long after this we were subjected to The Vouges, Hawaii 5-0 and the inane Sue Thompson that some equally inane person pressed on his own label.
Around mid '74, came the first warning of the great New York onslaught, in the shape of Fantastic Johnny C's "Don't depend on me", a nice enough side sounding typically Philly at the time, and I for one couldn't believe it, the first time this boomed from the Mecca's speakers. Christ, compared to today's Mecca sounds this one's a stomper. Soon Frank Elson did an article in his B & S column entitled 'Are the sounds slowing down?' and we all know what the answer was.
From the early 70's the Mecca had always led the field, under the motto "What we play today the rest of the scene plays tomorrow", a fact only too well known by the rest of the scene. When Levine joined the roster, the Mecca had everything, and if it was desired, the Mecca could have gone on to become what Wigan is today. Their refusal to do all-nighters, meant this could never be. So, as Levine realised his venue could never be the No.1, armed with Colin Curtis, he set about changing the whole scene into one that could put the Mecca at the top. To be honest, there was no competition from Wigan. Levine knew that if he wanted to he could easily have built the Mecca up into the No.1 all-nighter, and I'm sure that if the Mecca ever reverts back to Northern Soul and holds ragular all-nighters, then Wigan could be pissed on.
The argument for New York disco music is progress, and fresh supply of sounds. Mecca music is certainly that, but why say there are no more stompers when there are hundreds of undiscovered sounds in Levines collection alone. And if as Colin suggests, the scene must play the music of Black America today, then what took him and others so long after years of playing 60's records. Is he admitting he was playing the wrong type of music for all those years? No, the Mecca's big mistake was to jump in head first, the result would have been a lot less rebellion had the sounds crept up on the scene very slowly. The ideal situation would have been one where there was an even mixture of the best 60's sounds and the best new releases. Some of the new releases appeal to hardened northern fans. Instead they had to go 100% NY disco, just as Wigan was once 100% stompers, but surely if Wigan sees the change, then the Mecca can too. I never thought I'd see the day when I'd hear new releases at Wigan, but I must congratulate the whole scene for taking change so well. I would have liked the scene to have stayed 100% stompers, but I'm not kidding myself for one moment by believing it could. So to sum up, the scene is now about 55% 60's music and 45% modern recent releases, I don't think it will ever go on to become solely NY disco, and I don't think it will ever revert back to the 100% stomper days. I think we've got just the right balance. Let's keep it that way. Right on.