WHERE TO BUY?
? HELP ?
This journey into the past
might seem a little bit disjointed to some, but I don't seem to have the perfect recall
that a lot of people do and I look on in disbelief when I read the stories some people
write, but if I can't remember something that's all there is to it. A mate of mine said
anyone who can remember all the details about Wigan Casino never really went! Anyway it
was 1968 or '69 (maybe even 1970) and me and the lads were having a few pints in
Wolverhampton and when last orders came and went we headed for the only place in town with
a late licence,The Lafayette Club, to get a couple of more pints in. We stood at the bar
and after a while I started to wonder why I had never heard any of the records that the DJ
was playing before. I asked a mate and he said it was Soul music and the DJ was Blue Max a
top man in the Soul world(it wasn't a scene back then). A record came on and I loved it so
I went and asked what it was called and now I can't even remember what it was but I do
remember it was by Darrell Banks so that limits it a bit. I thought this guy had a great
voice and decided there and then to find out a bit more about Soul Music. I asked around
without any success and it was months later back at the Lafeyette I spotted the elder
brother of a lad I knew as Martin who lived near me. The next day I went to see this
Martin and asked him what he knew of his brothers taste in music and he said nothing much
but his brother kept his records in the front room and I could go and take a look at them
if I wanted. I jumped at the chance and I looked through this small box of records without
recognising a single title or artist. I moved away for about 3 years and when I
returned I almost immediately struck up a firm friendship with Martin who said he was now
into Soul and listened to his brothers records at every opportunity so I started to go
round and every time his brother went out we would dive straight into the record box,
despite being under threat of death if we were caught. The only records I can remeber were
The Brothers and Mickey Champion but boy did I like them! This situation seemed to go on
for ages maybe 18 months to 2 years and still I can't remember any of the tracks! Anyway I
started work now and eventually found someone else who was into Soul and he did me tape
after tape and I listened and learned until he said a Northern Night was coming to the
rollerdrome in Wolverhampton with DJ's from the countries top club,Wigan Casino. I went to
this night and what a night it was. I had never seen dancing like this. I was hooked, I
had to have more. So
from then on I went to every local Soul night and every local disco that could be
persuaded to play a bit of Soul even if it was only a couple of records. But this was not
enough. I needed more. Everyone was talking about Wigan but then I heard talk of the
Blackpool Mecca. This intrigued me because I had been born and raised in Blackpool and new
the Mecca well. So that what it I decided to make the Mecca my first "big do"
and what a do it was... The first thing that I always remember about that night was that
it cost me 42 pence for a scotch and coke for the bird I was with. It was only 19 pence in
Wolverhampton!!!! The place was still as tacky as I remebered it with plastic
sheilds on the walls and talcum powder in the womens bogs but the music was out of this
world. I had never seen the fat DJ before nor the thin one with the long girly hair but I
got to know them over the next few years as we brought and sold many sounds from and to
each other. The few records from that first night that I can remember are Van Dykes, Eddie
and Ernie and Estella Denison. But that was it, almost every Saturday for the next two
years I visited the Highland Room sometimes going on to Wigan sometimes not. I won't
say to much about the Casino because it has all been said before so what I will do is
concentrate on some of the other clubs, some good, some not so good, that flourished
during the next few years.
So that's about a dozen visits
to Blackpool Mecca, countless trips to local Soul nights and even playing our own records
at the local youth club and I still haven't had the guts to dance!!!!!!! By this time( I
can't even remeber what year it was, about 1974 I guess) I own about 300 singles dozens of
tapes and I've practised for hours and hours in the bedroom but Ive never danced in
public. So this weekend I go out and buy a new pair of shoes, Brown Solatios, and these
are to be my dancing shoes. So off we go to Blackpool on Saturday night and I spend all
night talking to a couple from Crewe and neither of us dance! They offer me a lift to the
Casino in the back of their van and I decide to go and hit the sacred floor. What better
place to start, I think to
my self on the way there, the current number one club was to be the scene of my first
dance. Or was it?. We got to the Casino at about 3 a.m. and it was absolutely packed. All
of you out there who went must remember the nights when for no apparent reason everyone
seemed to turn up and the place was chocker. Well this was one of those nights. Apart from
the fact that there were so many more people to go and say Hi to and so many more boxes of
records to look through there wasn't an inch of space on the floor for me to stand, let
alone dance. So 8 a.m. came and I headed for the train station still a dancefloor
virgin!! So it's Monday night and I go to a teenybop disco at Willenhall Baths just
to please the girlfriend (who's more Bay City Rollerish than Bob and Earlish) But imagine
my shock as I walk in and hear, yes I can remember this time, The Snake by Al Wilson this
is followed by the Temptation Walk and as we go further into the dance hall there are
about 20 Soulies high kicking
and back flipping like mad. So before I have the time to lose my bottle I dive in there
and dance on rubber legs, or so it felt, for about half a dozen more records until the DJ
goes back to the chart stuff. Later on he does another Northern half hour and by now I am
a seasoned campaigner and get a spot in the middle, right at the front. That's it. I'm now
a dancer.The next night I went to another disco, by the same DJ, at Walsall Town Hall and
2 nights later I was dancing to him again at Darlaston Town Hall. This was brilliant,
three practise sessions a week. I would be brilliant by the time the weekends came.I
couldn't wait for Saturday night to arrive...
So now I can dance, or at least
I think I can, and the Soul nights are being visited thick and fast : Wigan Casino,
Blackpool Mecca, Tiffanys in Stoke, Derby, Leicester, Ritz Manchester, Whitchurch Civic
Centre(on a 52 seater coach with just 8 people travelling), Yate, Gloucester, Blackpool,
Central Pier, Mr Georges,Coventry, The Antelope,Stoke and somewhere in most other parts of
the country. Before long the trusty holdall was full up and I had to take to wearing caps
just to have somewhere else to sew the badges on!! Then it came. One night at
the Mecca Ian Levine said that the time had come to move
forward and did about an hour and a half of his new type of music. I gave it a chance and
even tried it again on the way home, as my mate Dave had once again managed to sneak in
his cassette recorder. Some of it was okay but I thought the majority of it stank!! The
following week we went back but there was even more of this stuff and now Colin was
playing it as well. We made a decision to give it a month and if things didn't go back to
what they were we would stop going to the Mecca. As everyone now knows things in fact got
a lot worse and the amount of funk played went up and up so we switched saturday nights to
Wigan where the funk was kept a bit more under control. Looking back this was definately
when I started to lose interest and started looking for reasons to moan about Soul gigs
and then finding reasons not to go still blaming everything such as too many kids or to
much funk or too packed or not busy enough just trying to find a reason other than the
truth which I knew deep down inside that I'd simply had enough!! Too many years of
overkill and I was bored. So like a lot of others I strayed away from the scene had a
couple of kids and listened to my old records and tapes. In the back of my mind I knew
that I was just taking a break and sure enough a phone call from an old mate saw us back
at the Junction 10 Allnighter but it was so hard knowing hardly any of the music anyway
that was about 10 years ago now and once again I'm off somewhere most weekends although
the birth of a new daughter 15 years after my last one has forced me to slow down again
for a while. But I'll be at the Mecca reunion and however sad it might be in 30 years of
listening to Soul I STILL say that the Oldies are the best!!!!
Them wer' days.
The first time.
Irish & exclusive.
My soul story.
UK to LA.
Keeping the faith.
A Great Crowd.
Oldie now Newie.
The Right Direction.
La Pella Nera.
My 80's Scene.
30 Years of Soul.
Cheshire Soul Club.
Man in Black.
Time's a Wasting.
A Northern CV.
Plain & Simple.