Here’s a short overview I wrote for DJ Mag’s Disco edition last year, outlining some of the musical threads that resulted in the evolving Disco movement’s expansion from the underground into the eye of mainstream attention as the ‘70s unfurled.
Tag Archives | Motown
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 second edition of my ‘Discotheque Archives’ series for DJ Mag is now online, featuring more landmarks in pre-Rave club culture:
I wanted to write in greater personal detail about David Bowie and the depth of impact his music and words had on me during my formative teenage years – this occurring when I was between the ages of 12 and 15. I’d uploaded a blog post once I’d heard about his death, but I’ve found myself needing to revisit what was a magical mystical part of my musical / life initiation, as much for myself as anyone else, both by listening through the records I loved, and still love, whilst getting it all into words somehow. Once I started writing this I couldn’t contain it – it was bursting out of all sides. So please excuse me for the tangents I go off on and the jumping about – there’s no easy coherent way for me to express this. For a period following his 6th July 1972 ‘Starman’ performance on Top Of The Pops, until 1975, when I began to disengage, Bowie ruled ok in my world.
Today marks the 40th anniversary of my first club appearance. Last night I played for 5 hours at The Garage and tonight I’m at The Jacaranda to conclude a celebratory weekend in my home city of Liverpool with a talk about what it was like to be a DJ back in those proto-Disco days.
Back in December I received an email from Sean Mayo at Play It Again Sam Records asking me if I’d like to remix what I thought, at first glance, was a track by Jon Of The Pleased Wimmin, who’d had some club hits back in the ’90s. I thought this an odd request, not the type of artist I’d expect to be approached to remix. Then I noticed that it was in fact the similarly, but unconnectedly named Joan As Police Woman, aka Brooklyn based Joan Wasser, who’s been recording under this moniker for the past decade in lighthearted homage to the strong and sassy TV character Pepper Anderson (played by Angie Dickenson) from the ’70s series ‘Police Woman’, which was the first successful American primetime TV cop series to feature a woman in the starring role.
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.
“Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says ‘treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.’ Man bursts into tears. Says ‘but, doctor…I am Pagliacci.’ Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.”
Alan Moore ‘Watchmen’ (1987)
Just back from a flying visit Stateside, playing consecutive days in 3 of dance music’s seminal cities – Detroit, Philadelphia and New York. The Detroit and New York parties were both really special, but not all ran smoothly, for sandwiched in between the Philly gods conspired against us.
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).