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.
Tag Archives | Northern Soul
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.
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.
Just finished a captivating and, to my mind, long overdue book, which covers the history of black music in the capital spanning (almost) 100 years, the recently published ‘Sounds Like London’. By bringing all the threads together, its author, Lloyd Bradley has made a telling contribution to our understanding of how British black music evolved, following the lineage of its direct influences in the Caribbean and Africa, in juxtaposition with the impact of African-American innovation throughout the 20th century.
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.
“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)
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.
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:
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).
Whilst DJ obsessives in this country could tell you the minutia with regards to New York’s celebrated club culture of the ’70s, I’m often surprised to find that they know precious little about what was happening here in the UK at the same time David Mancuso, Nicky Siano, Larry Levan and the other NY legends of the ’70s were bringing Disco to the fore. Maybe they think that there wasn’t much happening here, and that UK DJs were simply following the US lead, whilst, to the contrary, nothing could be further from the truth – go back into the ’70s, before Disco hit its stride, and you’ll find hugely influential figures including Ian Levine, Colin Curtis and Les Spaine in the North, Chris Hill, Bob Jones and George Power in the South – DJs with a wealth of knowledge between them, who made their mark on popular culture here at root level. These are giants, upon the shoulders of which subsequent generations of British DJs stand, whether they know it or not.