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Places & Faces.
As I said in the last edition, and as it is easier for me to prepare whilst I am on holiday, I return to the subject of readers' all-time favorite sides, sounds and what-have-you. Despite my every plea to limit your choice to only one title ( an impossiblity I admit ), I find that lists vary in length from one title to one brave soul who sent in a listing of 108 titles! And even I can't accomodate that many in one edition! Any way, picking through the pile at random let's see what we come up with.
 First off, Les Whyatt from Urmston chose Mickey Lee Lane's "Hey Sha-Lo-Ney" which has always had a steady following, and along with this, his friends sent in their all time slayers which were "Come see about me" by Mitch Ryder which is Ray's choice, and Rik nominates Joy Lovejoy's eternally popular "In Orbit" with The Prophets' "I got the fever" splitting honours. They are regular patrons of Manchester's Pendlum Club, and in their own words, they can't wait for the Wheel to re-open ( which, incidentally will not be too far away now, although it is debatable if the new management will retain all the character that the old one was renowned for. We'll have to wait and see ).
 Timmy Dodson from Longton near Stoke-On-Trent nominates Lester Young's "Barefootin' in Chinatown" which was on the US Barry label, and was never issued over here. I know this was very, very popular a few years back, but I must confess it is not a sound that freaks me out personally. Maybe it is too simular to Robert Parker's "Barefootin' " for me because I was never nuts on that either. But still, don't just take my opinion as gospel - I know I'm in a minority over this one, so seek it out, give it a listen and decide for yourself.
 J. Barton of Elton near Bury picks as his all-time winner The Duettes' "Every beat of my heart". Much, much in demand this one, and he also mentions in the same breath that other ever-so-much-wanted Verve waxing by Robert Banks - "Mighty, mighty good way".
 Tony Clarke of Doncaster hasn't been collecting Soul for too long, but rates his favorite as Felice Taylor's "It may be winter outside", with The Miracles "That's what love is made of" running a very close second. Mel Evans of Heanor put Jackie Wilson's "I get the sweetest feeling" top of his list. What a tremendous artist he is, and I never cease to marvel at his vocal talent and genuine Soul artistry. Mel also cites June Conquest's "All I need" which was on Windy C in the States, Dobie Gray's "Out on the floor", The Prophets' "I got the fever",    
        Bettye Swann.
Bettye Swann's "Make me yours", and The Stairsteps' "Stay close to me".  A right winning hand that lot.
 Robert Hazell from Norwich is obviously into the Tamla-Motown scene and nominates Mary Wells' "My guy" with "Where did our love go" by The Supremes and Martha's "Dancing in the street" hot on it's heels. ( Incidently in passing I'm giving a real Seal of Approval to the new Donnie Elbert version of "Where did our love go" which Mojo are putting out. It really is incredible and a really great re-working of what really is a Motown classic, and I'm so enthusiastic that I'm thinking it might well be a contender for my top 20 at the end of the year ).
 John Millard of Wellingborough goes for Homer Banks' "Hooked by love", and also adds Al Kent's "You've gotta pay the price", The San Remo Golden Strings' "Hungry for love", Bob Wilson's "All turned on" ( what an utter gem this one is! ), and Billy Butler's "Right track" ( now, incidently back in the £5 bracket amongst collectors ).
 Soul Brother Tony Jebb who is the ever popular soul-brother who delivers the goods unfailingly to the brothers and sisters at the Blackpool Mecca every Saturday night has sent a really interesting selection. Mr.Soul-satisfaction picks "Mighty good way" by Robert Banks which he reckons is probably his all-time favorite, and also tips his hat to Little Richard's "I don't want to discuss it" which is really growing into monster proportions these days, and which, yes Tony, was the official "B" side when first put out over here on Columbia. Rose Battiste's "Hit & run", Mamie Galore's "It ain't necessary" and Nella Dodds' "Come back baby" complete his selection, and believe me they are all ace sides which you can really have confidence in because this ace brother really knows and loves his Soul music. Right on Tony!
 Alan Miller and  Bruce Hickman, two buddies from Watts Cross in Kent settle for Gene Chandler's "Nothing can stop me" - another side that sold well, but has since become rare again. Stephen Smith of Highbury in London goes for Bobby Womack's "What is this" with Bettye Swann's "Make me yours" hot after it. Ian Levine ( that walking mine of Soul from Blackpool ) has settled for Rose Battiste's "Hit & run" and this from a collection of upwards of four and a half thousand Soul singles - so that's a mighty great compliment to Rose and the ever-loving Revilot / Ric-Tic combo.
 David Cudworth of Allestree has three favorites that tie for his number one slot - Bobby Williams' "Baby I need your love", The Spinners' "I'll always love you" and The Poets' "She blew a good thing". Allen Cakwell is at present living in Germany but used to live near Doncaster. His consistent winner is The Incredibles' "There's nothing else to say baby" - oft-cited this one, and a real Soul classic in my opinion.
 Well, there are a few classics and gems for you to get seeking, and hope some of them will be new delights for you to discover and enjoy. In the next edition I hope I'll be able to write up my experiences and adventures on my recent trip to the States and tell you what Soul-land USA is doing, thinking and grooving to in 1971.
 So keep the faith whilst I'm gone. Right on now!
The Pye Disco Kid, alias Northern D.J. Supersoul, pictured at the Top Of The World, Stafford, with Barry Manstoff of Pye's marketing division. It was part of a promotional visit to launch Pye's "Disco Demand" series, out now, featuring some real northern disco gems  -  like     Jerry Williams'  "If you ask me", "What shall I do" by Frankie & The Classicals. Already schedualed for release in the near future are Wally Cox's "This man" and The Casualeers' indemand item "Dance, Dance, Dance".  ( July 1974 )
         Mr Solid Soul Sensations . . . Ian Levine.
                     Chicago Soul Review photo by "Scoop" Elson.
               Front row ( L to R ) Evelyn Thomas, Ian Levine, Barbara Pennington;
                   Back row ( L to R ) L.J.Johnson, Shelia Hart "group babysitter",
                                                                          Paul Wilson ( musical director ), Bob Mills.                                  
        ( From left to right ) "Scogge" , Frankie Ireland & Richard Parrot,
       trying to look as if they didn't see the cameraman. June 1974
             Phil Duckworth and Andy Riding, jocks at Accrington British Legion. When they saw the print neither wanted it printed 'cos of the way they were standing.
             Just about everyone, with Brian Rae and Steve Whittle
                       at the  back, at Horwich Soul Club.


DRIFTING NORTH . . the breakdown of what the misunderstood Northern scene is really about.     Ian Dewhurst - Black Music 1979
 The club scene in the North of England has long enjoyed a reputation for controversy, diversity and tenacious, almost primeval habit of creating and staying within it's own trends. The mid-sixties saw the birth of the much maligned "Northern Soul" scene which, in spite of the criticisms levelled against it, continues to flourish - the mid-seventies saw the birth of a conoisseurs' haven for obscure, treasured jazz, funk and disco releases, a phenomenon which still exists.
 It is the Northern Englands fans' almost compulsive dedication to all forms of black music - and also because there's a clearly definable, idiosyncratic scene in the area - that the idea for this page was born. For, aside from the geographical aspects of the scene, the North has thrown up some fascinating questions:-
Why do thousands of fans travel hundreds of miles each weekend simply to visit key all-night discos? Why did the All-dayer promotions start in the North? Why do All-nighters continue with such success? Why does a middle aged Welsh school teacher travel all over the country with a box of records worth thousands of pounds ? Why is a one-time Northern bootlegger now one of the world's foremost disco producers (with an L.A. pad and a bank balance to prove it)? Why were artists like Archie Bell, Earth Wind & Fire and George Benson household names in the North long before they achieved national recognition and platinum discs?
 Get the drift? The North, far from being a mishmash of conflicting tastes, is actually a lot more cohesive than is popularly imagined. To suggest, for instance, that the top clubs in the North were playing "Captain Fingers" by Lee Ritenour a full year before the Southern jocks latched on may sound unbelievable. But it's fact. Or take Bo Kirkland and Ruth Davis. They had a veritable monster with "You're gonna get next to me" in the North in '76. A year later it became a national hit - thanks to Radio 1 ! Yep, it's a rough deal here int' wilderness.

An intersting development on the scene is the declining populartity of the "on the fours" stompers, giving way to more modern releases: in fact uptempo pop disco records are now part of the scene. One such record is Millie Jackson's  "House for sale", probably one of the most popular records in the bigger clubs. When Ian Levine, Colin Curtis and Ian Dewhurst first played this release in 1976 we got very little reaction outside Blackpool Mecca. Today the record is guaranteed at least 10,000 sales thanks to the massive exposure given to it by Northern DJs.
 Penultimately a particular hobbyhorse Ian Dewhurst. As the '80s loom on the horizon it would be good to see a scene which played strong uptempo releases alongside traditional stompers - underneath just one pigeonhole:

        Millie Jackson -
  "House For Sale"

 James Wells: first time around

THE LATEST output from the Levine Machine is James Wells, who recently made a lightning trip to London to add some vocals for a new single that will be released through Polydor immediately after Christmas. Presently, James is featured on the B&S chart with "Baby I'm Still The Same Man" - which incidently, has become a prized possesion on Polydor's promotional-only 12" Disco pressing!
 Born in Chicago - his present home - on January 19, 1956, James roots are firmly in gospel music and it wasn't until he was well into his teens that he "wanted to venture out" and became involved in R&B. His first experience gained in R&B circles was with his sister as a duo Sue & James. A year later, they were joined by Sue's friend, Shirley King, who is B.B. King's daughter and they dubbed themselves Shirley, James & Sue.
 In 1972, they made their initial recordings for Stax Records but the product was never released commercially. In actuality, the trio merely added their vocals to some tracks that producer Henry Bush had in the proverbial can.
 In 1974, James flew to Europe to team up with Chicago group, 100% Pure Poison and it was in London that the confrontation actually took place. It was via this meeting that James first met Danny Leake - who was then the foundation stone of the now defunct 100% Pure Poison.
 On returning to Chicago, James teamed up with another local group, Fresh Air - which comprised James, Candi Talbert and a back-up band. An album was recorded for Epic Records under the production aegis of Stan Abernathy but again the product was never put on the streets.
 It was at this stage that Ian Levine signed James to his ever-growing production unit and "Baby I'm Still The Same Man" was recorded in Chicago with Ian sharing producers credits  with arranger Paul David Wilson. The initial success of the single in this country prompted Polydor to fly Jmaes in for the new sessions.
 "The tracks were actually recorded for Tony Austin," Ian admits, "but James sings them a lot better than Tony ever could." The three tracks are "Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow", "My Days Are Numbered" and "All I Ever Need Is Music".
 How does James feel about his second time across the Atlantic? "I love it here," he enthuses, "because the people are so nice and friendly. And they seem to like my record!"
John Abbey - B&S (1975)


 James Wells -

 "Baby I'm  
   Still The
 Same Man"