# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Various - More Soul Than Wigan Casino

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 25 / 6 / 2005

Various - More Soul Than Wigan Casino
Label: Fortuna POP!
Format: CDS


Excellent covers EP of Northern Soul classics on the Fortuna Poplabel from indie pop acts Kicker, the Butterflies of Love, Comet Gain and Airport Girl

Covers of four Northern Soul classics on an indie pop label doesn’t look good on paper. In fact to someone who frequented Wigan Casino during its glory days it has all the makings of an absolute disaster. But being one of those who actually liked Northern Soul because of the sound rather than the label, catalogue number or rarity of the record, which was the major attraction to many, I was curious what these indie darlings had done with these sacred songs. Kicking off (ha!) with a foot-stomping cover of The Inciters ‘Since You Left’ from Kicker was a deft move on the part of Fortuna Pop. All fears that the bands had taken the project as some kind of joke and were just out to strip the songs of their soul and passion are quickly dispelled. The bassline is just how it should be, the test of a good Northern Soul song is if it makes you want to get up and dance (even if your aging body is telling you different) and from that bassline through the excellent guitar playing to Jill Drew’s outstanding vocals, it’s obvious that this is no throwaway cover version. "Pisses all over the original" says the press release, maybe not, but it comes very, very close. The band captures the feeling of the song and genre which is the important thing, not the label nor where the band originates from. Many Northern Soul purists wouldn’t give this EP a chance but that’s their loss. They ought to remember exactly where some of their hallowed, obscure 45s began life. The second song, by the usually excellent the Butterflies Of Love, is the only disappointment on the EP. To these ears the Mary Wells version of this Smokey Robinson song, ‘Two Lovers’ was never one of the Miracle man's best compositions. Falling on the more ‘soulful’ side of Northern Soul and with lyrics more suited to the Deep/Southern soul genre, the Butterflies Of Love make a fair fist of the song but they fail to inject that necessary spark which was also missing from the original for the song to make much of an impression here. Comet Gain seemed to be really pushing their luck by writing new lyrics to Dena Barnes’s ‘If You Ever Walk Out Of My Life’ especially when by their own admission they wrote them in the pub "to piss off the purists." While admiring their intentions, re-writing any lyrics is a risky thing to do to any song but must rank as a criminal offence to the Northern Soul crowd. But the new lyrics are excellent and the band push the song in a new direction, all acoustic and jangly guitars wrapped in a Spector lite production complete with handclaps and Rachel Evans' little girl lost vocals conveying just the right amount of pain. On first play the final song on the EP, Airport Girl's version of ‘Lipstick Traces’ best known from The O’Jays cover of the song, was the song which stood out most of the four on offer. Mainly because they have taken a Northern Soul classic, shoved it in the blender with the Jesus and Mary Chain's first album and highlighted the gorgeous melody. Released as a stand alone single it would attract a lot of attention but up against the outstanding covers by Kicker and Comet Gain here it looses some of its impact. This EP is a real eye opener; these four bands have pulled off the impossible and dragged four Northern Soul classics screaming and shouting into 2005 and made an excellent job of it along the way. So sod the purists, as always it’s what’s in the groove that counts and these covers have the same effect on this old soul boy as the originals do, I may not be able to move like that any more but these songs sure make me want to which is surely what it is all about.

Track Listing:-
1 Kicker- Since You Left
2 The Butterflies Of Love- Two Lovers
3 Comet Gain- If You Ever Walk Out Of My Life
4 Airport Girl- Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette)

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