WHERE TO BUY?
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Soul from UK to LA, yesterday & today
Well it was just about 25 years ago since I went to my first
Northern Soul Venue back at home in the UK, and yet it was quite exciting to read all
about the very first Los Angles Soul All Nighter that was put on Saturday November 29th,
which I attended. It has been many years since I was last involved with the scene, as I
left the UK in 1981 after spending most of the 70's in various clubs all over the UK
involved completely in the Northern Soul Scene, but by the time 78/79 had come around the
Northern Scene was in bad shape. When I mean bad shape it was for me and most of my
friends as we had grown up with the scene in the 70's and it was getting stale and not so
many new places were happening, it was like our generation was reaching an end with the
scene as most of us were moving onto other things, jobs, commitments etc. During the later
part of the 70's I spent more time going down south to all the funk clubs to have some fun
and to dance. The Goldmine and Royalty were two very good places at that time with DJ
I had been going to the Palace Disco in Rhyl when I was 15, where I would hear a lot of
Motown and soul sounds, just when I turned 16 I got my Lambretta GP and started the
"Soul Pack" a group of us interested in soul and scooters, it was a good blast
that summer in 71/72, riding that scooter to Whichchurch all dayers. The soul scene really
all started though when I went to Tiffanies in Newcastle U Lyme early in 1972 for an all
dayer and was hooked from there on. It was such an adventure at that time, buying records,
going to Jackson the tailors to get made to measure pants and suites to wear. Everything
at that time seemed to be so based around the exclusivity of the Northern Scene. Very
early on I wanted to get really involved into the scene and so I got very busy in the
promoting the soul club scene in North Wales with my good friends Nick Lyde and Richie
Andrews and all the other guys. It started at the Riverboat after the first go around by
Gilbert and Robert who put on some great nights back then. We then we moved on to the
Royal in Rhyl, then to the Highwayman pub, the all dayers in Colwyn Bay and numinous other
venues, and soul nights at the Dixieland in Colwyn Bay. After the Pier all Nighters were
closed down by the police in 1977 there wasn't much happening around North Wales any more.
Maybe we put on a few more nights in the Riverboat but the scene was dying out, but the
interest never died, most of my friends had moved on to other things back then.
There are of course such good memories of traveling to Blackpool Mecca, standing in line
with our made to measure suits with 16inch vents and ten button cuffs on the jackets,
ready to show off and dance to the sounds of Colin and Ian. The strange looks we would be
given from the none soul crowd who were lining up to go in to the pop dance downstairs,
who would just get drunk and fight with the poor bouncers downstairs while we were all
dancing upstairs to some of the most soulful sounds ever. Some may say we were posers but
that was just part of the scene at the time and what we enjoyed doing it was our scene and
the way we lived it. Then after the midnight hour it was time to clean out of the Mecca
and change into our cords and tee shirts to go dancing and record buying all night at
Wigan, this seemed to go on for years, yet when I look back and see it started when I was
only 16 no wonder I was so lucky to have older friends who got me involved at such a young
I also liked to travel all over the county though going to the Catacombs in Wolverhampton
to listen to Blue Max and Pep play their balance of soulful tunes. Then it could be the
Heavy Steam Machine in Stoke or Tiffanies for an all day in Newcastle, or the Top of the
World Club in Stafford, or the annual bank holiday Monday spent at Whichchurch all dayers.
There were many late Thursday nights at the Blue room at Sale Mecca, with the hard job of
getting up for college on a Friday morning. Some of the most soulful memories are some of
the early all nights at strange little places around the country, and then the bigger all
dayers at the Mecca with lots of acts, such as Junior Walker, Edwin Starr, Temptations,
The Exciter, Major Lance, etc.. I even look back at some of the Friday nights spent
sitting outside Brian Phillips house waiting for him to come home half drunk, so we could
buy the latest sounds from him when he got his shipment from the USA. ( Brian used to DJ
at the Wheel ) We would try to beat Soul Sam and the rest of the guys as Brian had good
connections at that time with a famous Simon Susan who lived here in LA at the time.. even
in the early days of Wigan we would go up to Russ Winstanly's house and buy records off
him after he got a shipment in from Simon, but that changed as Wigan and Russ got more
popular later on. It was always a shame how the scene did get splintered in the mid 70's
with that certain elitism about the Mecca and Wigan sounds, but if you didn't let it
bother you then you were lucky to enjoy the best of both worlds and for me that was what
it was all about, having fun, collecting records, meeting people, dancing and running the
soul clubs in North Wales. Looking back I wouldn't trade any of those memories good and
bad, it was the best of times. I compare it to my life since moving here to Los Angles and
being involved in the triathlon world and competing in Hawaii at the Ironman, they are
both exclusive events and I feel lucky to know and have had such fun times.
Yes sure the scene was sort of spoilt by all the commercialism in the mid to later part of
the 70's but the music never died really as it so apparent today with all the new people
being involved with the scene and the wide spread following of the music to other
countries in Europe, and of course here in the USA.
The recent all nighter that took place here in Los Angles was quite a lot different as it
was held in a commercial type building with a portable dance floor brought in especially
for the event as it was not a regular dance club at all. The publicity had been kept to a
minimum and was only really known amongst the soul crowd, information was passed along
using the 90's technology of the Internet, something that we didn't have back in the 70's
as back then I remember spending many nights driving around the local area's pasting up
posters at bus stops and sides of building to promote our soul night. I arrived at the
building at 9pm with a feeling of wonder, as it had been so long since I had been to such
an event and of course never to a Northern Soul night here in LA. Upon arriving it seemed
like it was taking a slow start to get going but it did give me chance to met Nancy who I
do have to say a big thank to for sparking my interest back into the soul scene. Nancy is
a LA native who is very much into soul music and has been over to the UK on many occasions
to visit clubs over there, she certainly knows her records.
I met a couple of guys from San Francisco who told me that they have a monthly soul club
scene up there with about 150 active followers. As the night went on the place began to
fill, with a mix of people, many younger people dressed out as Mods with their suits on
and the girls in their 60's style, there were a few ex Brits there who had been on the
soul scene, namely Gabby from Northampton, who was around during the mid 70's in fact he
was one of the forces behind many of the younger kids at the club as he had sold many of
his original sounds to these people. There was Smithers and her husband Martin who took
turns spinning some sounds, both had been into the scene back in the UK in the 80's. The
remainder of the crowd consisted of a mix of people but most appeared to be into soul
The mix of music was not completely Northern Soul really as there was a lot of 60's type
music that was played for the Mods in attendance, and some 70's style sounds, but nothing
too commercial. There was a good deal of Northern Soul played, it was a good mixture of
the old sounds that I remember but there was many classic sounds that I was waiting to
hear, but I have a feeling that the people here are slow at getting into all of the
soulful sounds as they like to hear the records they know and are familiar with. I do
think having a microphone for the DJ would have been a big help and hopefully before the
next all nighter which is going to be in February they will have one. I have also been
asked to do a spot of DJing for the next night, so it's time to brush off the dust from my
old record box and see what classics I still have left to play, I might even start
collecting a few more originals before the next all nighter.
So by the time 2am rolled around I was feeling quite tired and had to head off home, such
a difference 25 years make. Overall it was an enjoyable night and it was nice to see
people enjoying good soul music.
Keep the faith
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.