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.
Tag Archives | Wigan Pier
I was recently part of a celebratory weekend, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the ‘Second Summer Of Love’, which, in fact, spanned 2 summers (1988 and 1989), focusing on the key role played by the famous London club night, Shoom.
It was 30 years ago that I launched my specialist weekly dance night on Friday August 19th 1983 at The Haçienda in Manchester, then very much a club struggling to find its identity. It was a case of too much space and not enough people during those difficult early years of its existence (having opened in May 1982), and, as I’ve said previously, had it not been for New Order’s success (the band were co-directors of The Haçienda) it would never have survived – Peter Hook’s book ‘The Haçienda – How Not To Run A Club’ is testament to the follies of a group of idealists who somehow, despite their near suicidal naivety, managed to (eventually) shape the Manchester nightspot into one of the world’s most legendary clubs:
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.
Richie Havens died of a heart attack yesterday at his New Jersey home. He was 72.
I want to give you a heads up on a new book that focuses on the evolution of black music radio in London during the ’80s. ‘Masters Of The Airwaves – The Rise And Rise Of Underground Radio’ is the labour of love of 2 influential figures from the period, Dave VJ and Lindsay Wesker. The book is presented as a series of interviews with the great and the good of London’s pirate and specialist radio back in the day (plus a few Northern exceptions) .
Exactly 30 years ago today, on 25th February 1983, I appeared on Channel 4’s influential music show, ‘The Tube’, demonstrating mixing for the first time on live TV in the UK – just my luck that the very point I was encapsulated in a cultural moment, it coincided with a brief phase where I looked like an extra from the Hair Bear Bunch, but that’s the way the mop flops. The footage is nowadays fondly regarded as part of British dance heritage, illustrating how the New York innovation of mixing was finally finding favour on this side of the Atlantic, where the microphone was still a key component of the DJs approach. For a full account of how UK DJs gradually put down the microphone and embraced mixing, check out ‘How The Talking Stopped’, an in-depth step by step account of its British evolution:
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.
During the 1980s Morgan Khan was viewed as a ‘dance music mogul’, a true instigator who enriched British culture via his unyielding efforts, driven by ‘an ego’, as Blues & Soul once put it, ‘bordering on the manic’ – Khan was (and remains) a force of nature. The fact that his absolutely pivotal contribution to the UK dance movement is constantly ignored remains a great travesty. If you know nothing about his Street Sounds label your knowledge of how dance culture developed in this country is terminally flawed – it’s as simple as that.