The fifteenth edition of my ‘Discotheque Archives’ series for DJ Mag is now online, featuring more landmarks in pre-Rave club culture:
Tag Archives | Blackpool Mecca
This weekend Colin Curtis celebrates his 50th anniversary as a DJ with a special event at The Exchange in his home city of Stoke-On-Trent. Colin started out in his mid-teens at Newcastle-Under-Lyme’s Crystal Ballroom, before making his all-nighter debut at Stoke’s hallowed Golden Torch, one of Northern Soul’s foundation venues, eventually becoming one of the scene’s leading figures as a result of his legendary ‘70’s partnership with Ian Levine at the Blackpool Mecca. Info about the anniversary date here:
‘Don’t You Worry Baby The Best Is Yet To Come’ is a track that was first played at Blackpool Mecca in 1976 following the acquisition of a US promo from fabled Norfolk based Glaswegian record dealer John Anderson (Soul Bowl) by DJ Colin Curtis, and then a release copy via a London based supplier who specialized in importing new American releases to distribute to US Troops in Germany & Europe, specifically black GI’s with a love of Soul and Funk. The Northern Soul sessions at the Mecca were hugely influential, the club revered, along with Manchester’s Twisted Wheel, The Catacombs in Wolverhampton, The Golden Torch in Stoke-On-Trent, and the scene’s most famous venue, Wigan Casino, at the vanguard of the movement.
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.
Having just marked the 10th anniversary of my DJ return, I’ve now reached the 30th anniversary of when I cut out first time around at the end of ’83 – my last Wigan Pier appearance on Tuesday 28th December, before rounding things off at Legend the next night. During the same week my final mix for Mike Shaft’s show on Piccadilly Radio was broadcast. Following on from the previous year’s ‘The Best Of 82’, which had caused such a stir, ‘The Best Of 83’ did what it said on the tin, bringing together the biggest tunes I was playing that year. My successor, Chad Jackson (a future DMC World Mixing Champion) would continue the ‘Best Of’ tradition on Piccadilly, with the baton later handed on to Stu Allan – these end of year mixes continuing until 1992.
In 2009 I wrote an article on the history of mixing in this country called ‘How The Talking Stopped’. It was the most in depth piece I’d ever written, the research alone had taken many months, including a couple of trips to the British Library in London to comb through the copies of Record Mirror they have archived there, for it was within this magazine that the person who I’d certainly argue did more to promote UK DJ culture than any other human being, connected (via his essential weekly dance column) with fellow DJs in every corner of the country. This was the literally larger than life James Hamilton (1942-1996), and if you’re a British DJ, whether you’ve heard of him or not, you can’t have escaped his influence, for he’s part of the very fabric of our DJ / club heritage.
Last month I was over in Chicago chilling out in my hotel room ahead of my first gig in the city, at Smart Bar, a venue with a rich tradition, which opened back in 1982. Chicago is, of course, along with Detroit, Philadelphia and New York, revered as a key US city when it comes to the evolution of dance culture (and, indeed, black culture, with, way before House, a deep heritage in Rhythm & Blues, Blues and Jazz, dating right back to the ‘great migration’ of black workers from the southern states, beginning just over 100 years ago).
Gil Scott-Heron died last Friday (May 27th 2011), aged 62. He was one of those artists who built his reputation on the fringes – hugely influential, yet almost completely unknown within a mainstream context. Initially a writer and poet, Scott-Heron hooked-up with musician Brian Jackson at university in Pennsylvania during the ’60s, the duo combining to great effect throughout the ’70s on a number of albums. His vocal style would be an inspiration to the oncoming Hip Hop generation, to whom his socially conscious lyrics, and their defiant delivery, helped lay the foundations for the Rap genre that would subsequently flourish during the ’80s and beyond, not least his keynote recording, ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’, taken from his 1970 debut ‘Small Talk At 125th And Lenox’.