Saturday, 7 July 2012

Northern Soul Classics - Soul Galore - Jackie Wilson

I was watching Soul Boy again on DVD yesterday, the film that my son Simon worked on a couple of years ago. Part of the reason for watching again on DVD was because he also appears briefly working behind the bar, and we wanted to see how much more was captured on the Extras. Quite a lot of filming was cut out of the final edit.

Besides making me want to be 16 again, and go dancing, it also made me think once again that although, I think its great to have had a film made with Northern Soul as the background, I still can't help feeling that there is something not quite right about a Northern Soul film whose story is based in Stoke, that is filmed in Stoke, that uses Stoke Town Hall as the closest facsimile for Wigan Casino, and which, whilst it mentions the Twisted Wheel, and focuses on Wigan Casino, never mentions the Torch, which only appears briefly on a poster.

I can understand the reason for that. It would not have fitted with the storyline, which required the main characters to be travelling to Wigan. But, as a writer I could have written around that. The film is set in 1974, and the Torch had closed in 1973, after all. But, as I've said before at the time, in Stoke – and most other places in the North – Northern Soul was not some underground movement that you could only experience by travelling to Wigan. From around 1969 onwards, go to any Youth Club, and College, any Workingmen's or Labour Club, lots of local Town or Village Halls, and many pubs, and you would have found any night of the week, a Motown and Northern Disco! You could say it was Northern Soul Galore. It was ubiquitous, and even the young people that didn't like it knew about it. A friend of mine, I worked with at Stoke Council, and I went to Day Release with, was into Rock Music, but it didn't stop him coming to the Torch with me on a Friday night.

The only sense you get of that ubiquitousness, and the reason why people like my friend here came to the Torch, is when Martin Compston, and Alfie Allen are playing “The Snake” on a tape in their Ice Cream Van, and a couple of girls pull up beside them, and give them a toot. And that was common. I used to take my cassette player with me, and at dinner time, sit in Longton Cemetery in the Summer. Everyday, a load of girls from the nearby textile works would come in, and sit round listening, sometimes there would be a bit of dancing as well!

So, I think there is plenty of room to cover all of these aspects of Northern Soul, and its ubiquity at the time, as well as putting the role of the Torch back in its rightful place. That, of course, doesn't take away from any of the other venues at the time, like the Catacombs in Wolverhampton, or the Dungeons in Nottingham, or Up The Junction in Crewe. Its decided me to write a novel that captures it. When its done, I'll serialise it here. Then if anyone is interested in taking it up, for another film, I'd be happy to work on the screenplay. For now, enjoy a bit of Jackie Wilson, and “Soul Galore”.

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