Black American musical heritage, and it's appreciation everywhere but black America.

So to begin with.

Obvious musicology facts. The Stones and the Beatles were really influenced by the switch from blues to rhythm and blues. Not the only ones but the most high profile ones. Aexis Corner who would go on to have the worldwide hit with the group CCS and 'Tap Turns On the Water' is just an example one could pick from many. We could add the Spencer Davies Group who's anthemic hit 'Gimme Some Loving' is lifted from a Homer Banks track. 'Shout' by Lulu was a copy of an Isley Brothers track from before they joined Motown and had their own T Neck label. The list is Endless.

However here in the North of England we did not go for these erzatz renditions as much as the rest of the country seemed to do.

Why? Well to tell you the truth that is something that employs our minds as well.

My thoughts on the subject tend me towards a feeling of zeitgeist. In such a small but powerful country the concentration of power tends to be more obvious. So therefore in the North of England we are geographically so close to the centre but a world apart.

So as you have this growth of self expression in America we were beginning to have it too, but somewhat delayed. So we had mature American black people talking about aspirations they felt they had begun to realise, talking to a bunch of teenagers, (I was 15/16 when I went to my first allnighter) whose aspirations were only just beginning to take shape. The optimistic outlook black American music gave us I feel was invaluable.

Maybe I can say that the music scene in America then was 'Blue collar' an aspirational 'middle class' as we would view it. Although our 'scene' as we call it, is largely viewed as working class, hence we get a little of the derision you did just for liking what you did. It must have to an extent have been, and still is what America would perhaps term 'Blue Collar'. How else could the people that went to Ameriaca dug out and presented to us the tunes we now recognise as Northern Soul. What is recognised as our most desirable 45 is a Motown single that there are only three copies of, the last time I heard of one of the copies being sold it fetched a price of somewhere around £32,000  (well over $52,000 US) and that was some years back. Rcords, like ones on the Okeh label are popular regularly fetching between £500-1500 ( over $700 to nearly $2.500 US). Hardly to be seen as the 'poor white boy sings the blues'.

In a comment I saw recently they assessed that somewhere upwards of 80% of many of the records I speak of are in UK or other hands. This includes works by Homer Banks, Bobby Bland, Williams and Watson, Van McCoy, Little Richard; Lorrainne Chandler, Jo Armstead in fact the whole pied piper group from Detroit. The Terra Sherma studios from Detroit, Mirwood a little further South the Uptown label from New York. We know the fact many of the Williams and Watson tracks issued on the Okeh label out of Chicago were in fact recorded on the West Coast. Chicago, don't get me started about the Dells, What about the Muscle Shoals studios going south again, Willie Mitchell! Booker T, and I even know at least enough of black history to know who he is named after, one of the first black educationalists!

So how come a bunch of Northern Soulies know more about your musical heritage than most black Americans do?

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Replies to This Discussion

No doubt, I actually virtually agree with everything you say, and by the way the Skullsnaps 'My Hang Up Is You' is a stunning track, I was also trying to view it as a cultural phenomana. I would take you to task on one thing and it's on behalf of the people I ran with. Many of them have spent their entire lives studying these things and I know black America moved on and did other things we listen to much of that as well. I tried in the selection of music to reflect that to a degree. I went to see Gill Scot Heron here in the UK in the early 80's, what an experience. As more of a dancer than a collector I can only scratch the surface of the knowledge here but I was also trying to put accross some of the reverance and respect for the musical heritage we enjoy. Maybe tending towards some kind of triumphalism which was unintentional but I would like to think you can't knock me for my enthusiasm even if you feel it a little mis-directed. Oh and tell your friends to record their rare singles, I can assure them I can find a buyer!
Couple here from that period when funk and soul mixed including a certain james brown of course
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUR4NO7chak&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2_mWeDb6NQ

I can understand from listening to the music from a young man in the late sixties the growth and influence of funk but is there any one group or record(s) that could be seen as a definitive or was it, as it seems, a more organic development? As well I know all things are organic in their growth but funk seemed to become a rather more radical departure, are we to link it with a growing black political consciousness then, hence the radical departure.
I ask because I would like someone elses opinion as I have tended to stick with what I started with and the growth there through blues/folk/doo-wop/jazz/swing/pop is easier for me personally to define.
Yes enjoyment is the name of the game and I definitely do that did'nt mean to get too deep it's just that I like to mine information. I know the Funk Brothers moonlighted around the area as well and almost certain they appeared on some of the Ric Tic/Golden World sides. The label that had Edwin Starr and Laura Lee as well as the San Remo strings who were one quality string section, Berry Gordy bought the stable out in 67 I think it was. Tera Sherma was another Detroit studio that many a good side came out of in fact Ralph Terrano whose studio it was runs the site 'Soulful Detroit.Com' that covers the history of Detroit at the time including many of the small imprints and lesser known but quite worthy artists.Things were certainly happening in Detroit round that time must have been one hell of a place to be. Like to add an Edwin Starr one from his Ric Tic days that reminds me of starting to go to allnighters and listening to these sorts of driving beats, being an 'underground' scene thats where we used to end up in out of the way places in old halls that we'd rent. Rather exciting for a young lad of 15 to be travelling a hundred miles or more to dance all night. We were considered unusual at the time, probably still are.

There's also a number of artists that occasionally visit these shores and are absolutely overwhelmed by the interest and adoration they recieve. Many frienships have been formed between these artists and thos on the scene.
You mentioned the 'curse of disco', well around us it took a slightly differing track as some fans veered off into jazz/funk fusion, of which I like some but the passion and intensity of that certain kind of track I still find unbeatable. I'll put the track up that whilst still vieweed as a classic Northern track many blame for a schism that was quite bitter at the time.
They of course went on to Bootsy etc whilst many of us stayed with the 60's or things that had that certain feel, even whilst many of the jazz/funk elements crept in a track still had to have a certain something. Almost elitist in it's own way if a seeking out of records nobody else appreciated can be viewed as elitist.

Nor could we all afford the prices some felt able to pay and the label image on this one is of a bootleg, but it is Frankie Beverly who of course went on to do the work with Maze.

I think the carstairs track a little more than that as far as this side of the pond's concerned, a bit of a musical education that did'nt totally leave the roots of what we knew.
To pick up on a point in another post you put up with. As a Northern Soul fan I resent things always been refered to as Motown or sub-Motown. There were labels all over the country with their own and often unique take on a similar sort of zeitgeist and I feel that the collating of all these small labels can also give a small insite into the American persona. As represented in a lot of views recieved in an objective manner ie; outside the country like myself.
That's in no way an insult to Motown, however their development as the basis for all musical references is I feel more to do with their market share. Not to forget that at the time they were the most successful wholly owned black company ever.
Anyway enough of that i'd like to post these just cos I like them the first bit of the post to signify white man got some soul somewhere. Wilfred Owen.
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped5 Five-Nines6 that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets8 just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent14 for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

8 October 1917 - March, 1918


Lillie Bryant
The original version of "Tainted Love" and the best by a country mile.

Nashville Tennesee. Country meets soul.
I know I should put the music player in as suggested but that does not give you the flava. This tune caused a storm when it was found (re-found), back in 72/73.

Another one from round the same time. Remember this is a royalist country and as far as we were concerned the Beatles or the Stones were our only choice, you had so many radio stations and so much choice. You could, or had the opportunity to, listen to a greater selection than we had. Or am I being biased, you had the opportunity to listen to sounds we would have given our right arms for.
Your reference to quaint considering your claim to have been listening to this stuff for four decades is.........well....quaint. I am just trying to share the appreciation of some of the sounds that are the soundtrack to my life don't think it's the only music i like. You say you don't like opera, well I saw the Ukraine National Opera in a performance of La Traviata and it was a life enhancing experience. I slightly object to your unfounded use of obsessive. You say you like black music and I was simply trying to play some of the music in that genre that I like.
I feel you are presumptious to presume me obsessive. Believe you me I ran with people that are as I said that in some posts. They would put your 'knowledge' to shame but I am not one of those I just love it because it is fantastic music.
Also as somebody who believes in evolution as i presume you to be, what greater obsession with the past than that.
'From our cut out bins', what arrogance, immediately from me posting this you have presumed yourself a) the black man trapped inside a white man's body, mr soul himself and b) because you have been listening for yea many years the arbiter of taste for us all. Who the F appointed you as judge and jury.
Just who the hell do you think you are patronising me, self appointed guardian of musical taste.
You are not black! Get over it.
In fact if we start on psychoanalysis I think I've a head start. Got some self loathing have we.
By all means criticise me, here as in other posts I can be a little out of left field and therefore must be prepared, as I am, to accept criticism. However patronisation from a white person with the self loathing to wish he were black (was it 'ethnically challenged' you said, can't quite remember and can't be bothered looking), is a little galling.
One thing I would ask is why I apply generalities where they don't belong. We're talking about music and trends, hardly the place for specifics, however if you could specify what you mean by generalities I would be very grateful.
You explain yourself. You say you've liked this music for four decades, well so have I and I do not therefore understand your last post, are you not also therefore living Ghoethe's nightmare
By the way whilst I am posting this I am playing music from Pink Floyd's 'The Wall', love it but because they're English Public School (which means private in England), I tend to find them a little pretentious.

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