Saturday, 8 November 2014

Northern Soul Classics - Medicine Bend - Margie Joseph

In early 1971, I'd just had the sack.  I'd been going to the Torch since 1968.  One person who started work at the same time as me, was my friend Trevor Harley, who also worked at the Torch.  I bought my first record from Trevor - Homer Banks, "60 Minutes of Your Love/A Lot of Love".  The second record I bought was Bobby Freeman - "I'll Never Fall In Love Again", which I bought from another friend of mine at the time, the late great Phil Morgan.

There has been a lot of stuff recently spoken about northern soul dancing coming from Bruce Lee films.  It was contained in Paul Mason's documentary a year or so ago, and its a meme also contained in Elaine Constantine's great new film, Northern Soul.  But, as I've pointed out before, that is impossible.  Having also trained in Kung Fu for nearly 20 years, its something I also know something about.  Bruce didn't make "The Big Boss" until 1971, and he didn't achieve any kind of following in Britain, until after the release of "Enter The Dragon" in 1973 - the same year actually that the Torch closed.  Before that time nearly all martial arts in Britain was based on Japanese styles such as Judo and Karate, and the latter was at the time much more rigid in its stance, punches and kicks, and not at all suitable as a basis for any kind of dancing.

Phil Morgan is the clear refutation of that meme.  Way back in the mid to late 1960's, Phil was one of the best dancers when it came to doing back drops, back and side presses, jack-knifes, diving forward rolls, spins, and every other bit of gymnastic dancing you can think of.  He worked at the Michelin in Stoke, and practised his moves in their gym.

Trevor Harley asked me if I'd also like to work at the Torch, which, of course, I did.  I say work, but it was really doing glass collecting, and an occasional bit of DJing, in return for free admission, and free beer.

But, during that Summer, I also spent time helping out with work inside the Torch during the day, as the old centre stage and DJ's booth was replaced.  I also spent quite a bit of time with Keith Minshull, and our regular walkabout dinners were family sized Wright's meat and potato pies.  Some years later, when I was producing an unemployed workers newsletter, I used to meet up with Keith at Kidsgrove dole office, and go back to his house in Somerset Avenue, and listen to records.

Back in the Summer of 1971, I also used to spend a lot of time with Keith listening to records in Bews record shop.  When I heard this, back then, I loved it straight away.  Its another sound that has not had the attention it deserves, but which I used to play a lot.  In my opinion its as deserving as many of the other great sounds that came out of Stax at that time.  But, there's also something about it that has always, for some reason also reminded me of the quite different "Come Back Baby" by Nella Dodds.

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