Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Northern Soul

A big thank you to my soul sister Nora who recommended ‘Cider with Roadies’. It’s a sort of autobiography/ recent history of pop music by Stuart Maconie.

He writes - ‘Soul music the sound of the streets, the sound of youth, the sound of passion, freedom, the night. To be fully attuned to the pulse of soul music in the 1970s, to feel its beating rhythm and heartbeat in the sounds of the metropolis around you, in the traffic, in the bars, the schools, the clubs, the songs of the shop girls and factory boys at downtown bus stops, you had to be living in one of only a handful of places; Memphis, Detroit, Chicago, New York ….…or Wigan.’

Wigan - also famous for pier, pies, rugby and where Kaz passed her driving test as a schoolgirl from Chorley. I’ll forgive Stuart for his snide references to persons from Chorley because I love his self-effacing low-key sense of humour - he’s so like the lads I grew up with.

He takes us from watching the Beatles as a toddler with his mum, through the 11+, college, unemployment, teaching sociology in Skelmersdale and his career as music journo on NME.

But, although Beth told me about his dancing, I’d no idea that he had been a Northern Soul Boy from the legendary Wigan Casino. Carrying his Adidas bag containing a change of clothes and Johnson’s baby talc to make the floor slippier for his rolls, dives, slides, spins and back flips. He ‘spent the best part of 1974 dancing’ - defying the inherited DNA of the white, male heterosexual stereotype.

He writes about his music passions from soul, progressive rock and punk to the Fall, the Smiths and Blur.

According to Peter Kaye ‘Stuart Maconie is the best thing to come out of Wigan since the A58 to Bolton’.

Read it!



Blogger Murph said...


Who can forget Freda Payne and her immortal 'Band of Gold'. "...but that night on our honeymoon, We stayed in separate rooms". And they said people were more promiscuous back then!

11:16 am  
Blogger Betty said...

A girl in our class at school used to have a bad festooned with patches and badges of northern soul clubs. Not that she'd ever been to them (she was eleven!). Her brother was a DJ though, which she would always drop into conversation, just so that she appeared cool. To think, in the mid 1970's, Wigan seemed so glamorous to someone living in the West Midlands (come to think of it, anywhere is probably more glamorous than the West Midlands).

3:53 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

Murph: 'snot true! We weren’t terrified of AIDS - just of getting pregnant.

I just wrote a comment on a blog and typed ‘Hail Murphy’ instead of ‘Hail Mary’! What would Freud make of that?

Betty: Wigan was certainly not glamorous when I lived round there, and by the mid 1970s I was a married woman in Manchester.

The last time I went to Wigan was for the legendary Bickershaw festival in 1972.

6:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I approve. Good thinking Kaz.

Arthur P. Freud

9:22 pm  
Blogger Murph said...

Apparently Mr P. went to a disco in Orrell Rugby Club in 1966 but I believe Northern Soul, aklong with vinyl records, hadn't been invented at that stage.

9:25 pm  
Blogger Beth said...

The only person I knew at school who claimed to have been to Wigan in the 70's was also an Elland Road regular.

She was dead hard, but she was always alright with me....hmmm... it's been ages since I thought of her...

9:26 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

Well would you believe it? I too was at that disco in 1966 and
I remember it very well.
Tell Mr. P there's no need to apoplogise - it was all a long time ago!

Beth: For an Elland Road regular to show up in Wigan she must been very dead hard indeed.

10:27 pm  
Blogger Ruby in Bury said...

I wasn't hip enough to be into soul in the 70s - but used to zip about the school playground with a Bay City Rollers scarf tied to my wrist. It wasn't even a proper Bay City Rollers scarf, (mistake asking my grand mother to buy me a tartan scarf - she chose a woollen one). So that's how cool I was in the 70s. Quite a dab hand with the clackers, though.

11:18 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

I'm very attached to a little tartan scarf that I've worn for years with my grey 'Scully' coat.
It's amazing how often I get asked it I used to be a Bay City Rollers fan.
Without the tartan they'd probably have been forgotten long ago.

11:11 am  
Blogger Geoff said...

Will there be any "talcum powder" at the new Manchester casino?

1:22 pm  
Anonymous NiC said...

Good book, that "Cider with Roadies".

4:42 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

Geoff: That's a very good question.
According to the Evening News - Manchester will now be the centre for organised crime rather than organised soul.

Nic: Glad you liked it too!
Obviously the humour wasn't 'lost in translation' on its way down south.

5:43 pm  
Blogger Flaming Nora said...

I'm really pleased you enjoyed it Kaz. Stuart's got a new book just out called "The North". I'll wait till it comes out in paperback before I buy it. Hardbacks are no going for reading on the Tube, or in the bath.

7:33 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

Thanks for the recommendation - I loved it as you can see.
I'll try the library.

In Manchester, the Tube is where our tootpaste comes from.

9:21 pm  
Blogger Flaming Nora said...

Update on the book. It's not called "The North", it's called "Pies and Prejudice". Clever, eh?

5:01 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

Thanks Nora - What happened to Rita?

8:28 pm  

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