Rewinding 40 years, a new double-album had just been issued that would provide the black music event of the year. 1976 marked the emergence of Punk, but my attention, as a 16 year old DJ working at local venues, the Chelsea Reach and the Penny Farthing in my hometown of New Brighton, was very much geared towards the Soul, Funk and Disco flavours of the time, and the release of a new Stevie Wonder album, let alone a double album (which also included a bonus 4 track EP), was greatly anticipated. It was the first UK release on the newly designed blue Motown label, which had replaced the classic Tamla Motown label that had issued all Motown output here since the mid-’60s, bringing the company’s various imprints (including Motown, Tamla, Gordy, Soul and V.I.P) under one inimitable umbrella.
The complete Random Influences is now available to stream via Mixcloud. This is a series of 2 x 12 hour long podcasts I put together in 2010 to mark my 50th birthday, comprising of a full 24 hours worth of music, all 7” singles from my formative years, with only records released before I started out as a DJ in December 1975 featured. As the title suggests this is a random, rather than definitive selection.
It’s 10 months since I blogged about the first 2 A&R Edits releases, issued simultaneously on DJ only limited 12” vinyl. Since then there have been 3 further additions, with another to follow next month, making 6 releases in all, each containing 2 tracks.
As outlined in the previous blog posts, the end of 2013 was all about 2 significant anniversaries for me – the 10th anniversary of my DJ return, swiftly followed by the 30th anniversary of my first time around ‘retirement’. Given that I stopped at the end of ’83, this brought my ‘Early ’80s Floorfillers’ series to a conclusion after 24 monthly episodes that spanned January ‘82 to December ’83, each edition appearing 30 years on from when I originally played these records.
The Northern Soul movement has marked 2 significant anniversaries this year – the launch of the weekly All-Nighters at the scene’s most famous venue, Wigan Casino, in 1973, as well as the opening of its foundation club, Manchester’s Twisted Wheel, 10 years earlier. A new book, ‘Northern Soul – An Illustrated History’ was recently published by Virgin Books, its co-author, Bury-born Elaine Constantine, also the director of the upcoming film ‘Northern Soul’. The book has been well received by Northern aficionados, Constantine (and Gareth Sweeney) congratulated for their insightful overview of the movement, which is enhanced by the anecdotal offerings of some of the DJs, dancers and collectors who epitomized Northern Soul. Alongside the music and the clubs in which it featured, the book also highlights the drug culture that played such a major role, amphetamines fuelling its development.
Following a run of 2 years 9 months I’ve decided to wind things down with Living To Music, making it an irregular feature of the blog from herein. Up until now it had been a monthly series, but something has to give and, as I’m currently stuggling to fit in all the things I need to be doing, I can’t maintain this commitment, although I don’t want to stop the series completely.
I did an interview last July with James Thirkettle for a documentary project he’s working on called ‘How Do You Listen To Music?’ He’s just uploaded it to YouTube, where he describes it as follows:
Just uploaded the December ’82 edition of ‘Early ’80s Floorfillers’, which re-visits the biggest tracks I was playing on my nights back in ’82/’83, when I was a black music specialist, resident at venues including Wigan Pier, Legend, The Exit, Berties and The Haçienda in Manchester, and The Stars Bar in Huddersfield. The series is available to stream / download via SoundCloud and my Electrofunkroots website, which includes label / record sleeve scans for all the tracks that make the chart, along with a list of ‘other big tunes’ that month.
I’ve mentioned Brian Cannon here a few times, we used to work closely together way back when, between the mid-’80s and early ’90s when he did the artwork for pretty much all of the records I produced, including those by the Ruthless Rap Assassins and Kiss AMC, whom I also managed, securing deals for them with EMI. Brian subsequently went on to become the best-known record sleeve designer of the Britpop era, working in-house for both Oasis and The Verve under his Microdot moniker. Microdot was a name I suggested to him in 1990 at 23 New Mount Street, then a key Manchester music industry location, where my Murdertone office was based, and where Brian would open his own office / studio – it was here that his path would cross with Noel Gallagher, who was then working for the Inspiral Carpets, who were also based there.
ARTIST: RUFUS FEATURING CHAKA KHAN
This Sunday (December 2nd) at 9pm, you’re invited to share a listening session with some likeminded souls, wherever you might be. This can be experienced either alone or communally, and you don’t need to leave the comfort of your own home to participate. If it’s not possible to make the allotted time, hopefully you can join in at your convenience at some point during the following weeks. See update here: