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.
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During recent times I’ve been intrigued to hear about the growing schism on the House scene here in the UK, brought about by the introduction, primarily by young black dancers, of ‘foot shuffling’ (aka ‘cutting shapes’), an increasingly popular style of dancing that has been met with much hostility in certain quarters, and, somewhat bizarrely, resulted in shufflers being banned from some clubs for dancing in this way. The accusation is that not only do they take up too much dancefloor space, but there’s a general ‘moodiness’ with regards to their attitude. Although it no longer seems to be online, there was even an ‘Anti Foot Shuffling Campaign’ page on Facebook, with some of the posts suggesting underlying issues of racism. As one person commented, “It’s not that all these people on here hate shufflers, they just don’t like fact that black people are into House music now.” Although this comment may be well intentioned, it’s also somewhat misguided given there are, and always have been, plenty of black people in the UK who are big into House – it’s just that their presence is usually to be found away from the mainstream, in more specialist avenues like the Deep and Soulful House scenes. Furthermore, some of the older black crowd are also resistant to this new wave of shuffling, so to present it as a purely black / white issue would be wrong.
Daft Punk are sitting pretty at the top of the UK singles chart for the first time. The track in question, ‘Get Lucky’, taken from their forthcoming album, ‘Random Access Memories’, came as something of a surprise, for instead of hitching itself to the current EDM juggernaut that’s sweeping America, the French duo have completely bucked the trend by drawing their influence from Disco, featuring its most celebrated guitarist, the great Nile Rodgers of the Chic Organisation (as well as R&B vocalist, Pharrell Williams). A media sensation, it’s everywhere at the moment – on the radio, on the TV, in the clubs and, of course, all over the internet, becoming the most streamed new release in Spotify history. It’s already been re-edited by a whole host of DJs and is pretty much nailed on to be the single of the summer.
Just over 12 months ago, on October 29th 2011, the TV and radio personality Sir Jimmy Savile died 2 days before his 85th birthday (he was born on Halloween 1926). He was regarded as one of the great British eccentrics, but there were always rumours about deviant behaviour, although nothing proven. Apart from his contribution to broadcasting, Savile was also said to be the first DJ, not only in Britain, but the World, to use twin-turntables, back in the 1940s, making him an unlikely icon to DJs of the modern era. Here’s the blog post I wrote at the time of his death:
EDM (electronic dance music), as they like to call it in the US, has never been bigger, America now fully embracing it, having previously regarded it as a little more than a side-issue, always the bridesmaid and never the bride. Now, the more curious minded dance music enthusiasts Stateside, wishing to avoid the mainstream commercialisation of a previously more underground club culture, are, often for the first time, excavating the mid-late ’80s period, when Chicago House and Detroit Techno emerged (finding far more love at the time in the UK and Europe, than in the country of its origin).
When my agent, Matt Johnson, booked me in for ‘A Night With…’, I hadn’t realised that it did exactly what it said on the tin, namely present just the one DJ for the full 8 hours the venue was open. I generally play for either 2 or 3 hours, with the odd 4 hour slot along the way – the only times I can recall playing longer (since I started out again), was a night at The Key in London back in 2005, and then the Credit To The Edit launch parties, both Sunday All-Dayers held at a couple of East End boozers (The Dolphin in 2005 and The Horse & Groom in 2009), so, as you can imagine, it came as a bit of a shock when the penny dropped and I realised that I’d unwittingly signed up for a marathon, but I quickly warmed to the idea and began to ponder the possibilities it presented.
Congratulations to Northern dance institution Back To Basics, which is 20 years old this week! To commemorate this pretty momentous occasion for what is the longest running weekly dance music night in the world, Ralph Lawson, resident there since day one, has launched a blog, Basic Vision, in which he’ll be sharing his memories, most notably via a series of lovingly constructed mixes that document the music he’s played there down the years, which will come complete with Ralph’s accompanying track-by-track text.
Seminal British Disc Jockey Sir Jimmy Savile died today, two days before his 85th birthday.
Just dug out a copy of the Music Is Better CD, a limited edition of 500 that followed my DJ comeback on December 20th 2003 at the Music Is Better night in The Attic, Manchester. It’s now been made available via SoundCloud.