published: 8 /
Dave Goodwin in 'Vinyl Stories' talks to Northern Soul record collector and DJ Neil Self about three classic double A-sides in his collection
This month's 'Vinyl Stories' comes from a guy I met not long ago. It turned out we had a shared passion in the lovely black wax and the soul sound of the Sixties and Seventies.
Here we have a guy who is, and can only be described as, a proper soulie. He lives and breathes his music, and is quite honestly mad about it. In the past I have had to let some of my prized records go from my collection and not long after I was able to add to it again, but the loss of certain records due to having to sell them because you are short of cash kills a bloke. It really does. This guy has collected, lost and rebuilt again, and has come out the other side still bonkers about his passion for soul music.
Amongst all the records he owns, Neil has picked three tracks that he has picked up for, let's say, not a fortune but they constitute everything that he believes in a good soul record. Can you remember those Eighties acts, when I think this phenomenon was at its height, such as the Beat, the Police and even the Human League with 'The Sound of the Crowd'/'Love Action'? They were all championing the double sider. A vast majority of records since the dawn of time have had a 'Plug side' or an 'A side and B side', and then some bright spark introduced an 'A' side on BOTH sides! Genius! Enter the double-sider!
Three Great Double Siders
When I asked Neil about his soulful escapades, he told me this: "For the last 38 years I have been a record collector, DJ and more recently an event promoter. I have a particular passion for Northern Soul music. It’s fair to say this music has shaped my life. I met many of my dearest friends in the early days at Northern Soul events up and down the country, and I even met my partner on the soul scene. Currently I promote a soul event in Gloucestershire called 'Soulfusion' which I have been running for the last nine years with great success."
Not many people outside the Northern scene understand it, and they understand it less when told that it's not only confined to these shores. Neil has put himself about over the years, and there is a massive underground interest in the music abroad in countries such as Italy and also in Spain where they are going bomkers for it and where I have witnessed this craziness myself at The Boilerroom in Barcelona.
He went on, "I also DJ at some of the major soul weekenders in the UK and I have also DJed in most of Europe and the USA. In my pursuit for certain records and also to visit some of the places where this wonderful music was produced and recorded, I have travelled to the USA on several occasions."
"I was born in Doncaster in 1960 and I remember the mod culture and the music associated with the mod scene during the mid-Sixties. At the time I didn’t realise what a massive influence the music of that era would have on me. For me, the golden years between 1960 and 1970 are my favourite era. Like a lot of people I started off spending my pocket money buying one single a week, mainly Motown releases to start with, but then got introduced to similar sounding records at a youth club I used to frequent. The rest is history!"
A little later he we got into the realms of buying and selling. Now I personally started collecting records with a view to selling on and dealing, but my love of black-orientated music got the better of me and instead of letting tracks go they would sneak into another box that quickly became my DJ box and would in time cost me a small fortune.
Even now some people find it hard to believe that there are pockets of undiscovered items out there either in the States or elsewhere in the world. When records were cut, some were just stored for a later date waiting to be released or bought in small quantities by companies to sell but were never actually unleashed on the streets to buy, and so they just got stockpiled and basically forgotten about.
Neil continues: "A few years back I fell on hard times and reluctantly had to sell some of my prized collection. This was a hard decision as I knew I would have difficulty replacing the items again. Prices have soared since then and I am no longer able to afford the big ticket numbers I used to own, so I decided to collect lesser known items as these can be sourced at lower prices if you know where to look.
"In my quest to build a decent collection quickly I have bought several collections off friends, so have filled some of the gaps. I have also managed to find a few records that possess two great sides. So here I am reviewing three great double siders that I have found on my travels that represent not only great value for money but also save room an my DJ box!"
Neil's first double sider goes like this...
The Ravenettes – 'Talk About Soul'/'Since You’ve Been Gone' – USA Shurfine 025
"USA female vocal group backed by St John and the Cardinals producing an iconic 60’s mod sound. No release date on the record but I would guess 1965."
Side 1 'Talk About Soul': running time 2:15
"The girls boast about their prowess on the dance floor doing the trendy dances of the day!"
Side 2 'Since You’ve Been Gone': running time 2:25
"The girls tell a story of heartbreak and loneliness of a spurned lover who is not able to cope without her boyfriend and is waiting for the phone to ring!! Both sides are penned by Frankie Redman and produced by Wendell Parker! Highly recommended!"
The next out of the box is this...
The Fantaisions – 'That’s Where the Action is'/'Unnecessary Tears' – USA Satelite 2006
"Another great USA female vocal group with terrific lead vocals and group harmonies."
Side 1 'That’s Where the Action is': running time 2:40
"This side finds the girls in the coolest club where the hippest music is played and the hottest guys with the sharpest suits hang out."
Side 2 'Unnecessary Tears': running time 2:40
"This side tells a story of a girl reluctant to get into a relationship with a guy with a bad reputation. This is a sublime outing and my favourite side.
This could be easily mistaken for a Marvellettes record but was actually released in October 1965 out of Chicago. Both sides are penned by Monk Higgins plus assistance from Jimmy Jones on the A side and Robert Hill on the B side. Highly recommended!"
And his final choice...
The Gambrells – 'Jive Talk'/'Find a Love' – USA Pioneer PRSD 2109
"Again another USA Female vocal group this time hailing from Detroit. This release is from 1966 and I believe their only outing on the label."
Side 1 'Jive Talk' : running time 2:19
"This side written by Carol Clayton who I presume is a member of the group is an up tempo number. The vocalist sets out her terms and conditions for forming a relationship and tells of previous bad encounters."
Side 2 'Find a Love': running time 2:34
"This side written by Pat Hunt is a sublime mid-tempo number sang beautifully where the vocalist tells of her desire to find a love, someone who is going to look after her and not hurt her unlike her previous boyfriend. Both sides are arranged by Milt Olson. Again highly recommended!"
In his own words, "So there you go three great double siders with that authentic 60’s Northern Soul sound to add to your soul collections. That’s if you haven’t already discovered these gems!"
Neil chose these tracks because it is a shining example of some of the quality sounds that you can still pick up quite cheaply in this climate today. As we were talking, Neil showed me a website on his phone that has a copy of Darrell Banks' 'Open the Door to Your Heart' on an English London label." So what?", I here you mutter. Well it's got about a week and half left to bid on and its already fetching over ten grand. Yep, you heard it right. TEN GRAND! Here he has found some sublime sounds just as good as the one for sale but for a fraction of the cost.
Call Neil what you like, I have. Call him a bit anal. Call him a proper old soulie. Call him absolutely bonkers if you want. One thing is for sure. You're never likely to find a bigger fan of vinyl than this chap.