Discussing Northern Soul and all its implications was once described to me like opening a can of worms. Everyone had their own opinion, their own strongly held point of view. And for me having almost zero interest in much music that predated my own youth in the 1970’s it all sounded pretty much like a not so quiet storm in a teacup. Decades later when I came to interview Richard Searling and Colin Curtis about those very differing approaches to what was ‘old’ and what was then ‘new’, with the emergence of Disco and then Jazz-Funk. It did indeed feel like the clash of two era’s, which despite one laying the foundations for the other, evolved into two contrasting scenes via Wigan Casino and Blackpool Mecca. Personally, I always sided with the latter’s embrace of the new, although of course time has played out well in the formers collection of what are undoubtedly (for the most part) great songs about love and heartache. This compilation focuses on the Casino’s second room, Mr M’s and their defining, defiantly strictly ‘Oldies’ only playlist. Politics – plus questions about over-hyping nostalgia – aside when you listen to all three CD’s, look at the accompanying photographs (that word in itself feels delightfully dated), read the testimony curated from the sleeve-notes and then listen to one of the original DJ’s Dave Evison’s interview, it all breathes a nostalgic sigh of relief. Through the temptations of the music it is just possible to glimpse at the world the dancers experienced as they lived their lives through Saturday night/ Sunday morning. Words contained in songs which sang out to the converted essentially reached back to the origins of the Blues and the redemptive promise of the church, with its keep the faith inspired promise of better days ahead. The first song on the first CD is the highly charged ‘Hey Sah-Lo-Ney’ by Mickie Lee Lane from 1965. The final number from the collection is JJ Barnes wonderful cover of Ace ‘How Long’ from 1977. Preceding that is N.F Porter’s ‘Keep On Keeping On’ (1971). Little else needs saying at that point.
The brilliantly titled: TO THE OUTSIDE OF EVERYTHING continues Cherry Red’s equally wonderful series of invaluable histories. This time round tackling, or rather defining Post Punk. The tempting question here is about whether it was really just Punk after all. The ‘Post’ bit a journalist tag line applied to sell the repackage while continuing our national obsession with labelling everything that moves – look at the subdivision (monetization) of Dance Music during the 90’s. Punk was an umbrella term covering a wide variety of causes, stance and styles and subsequently that D.I.Y attitude remained intact, as did that sense of independent, non-conforming spirit. Maybe even more intensified as a reaction after the blatant commercialisation of Punk itself. Although, of course, everything boils right down to the music. Which in this case is so blindingly excellent that it still sounds and feels highly-charged, excitement-personified dragging you back to when possibilities seemed endless. Evolving from the breath of what was essentially the sneer of high-energy Rock n Roll bands felt free to do things that contradicted the original medium – thank god. All that Sid Vicious stood for, was, in the end, vacuous and meaningless (cheap swastika included). But on a more positive note there are five CD’s here to truly indulge yourself. Starting with Ultravox is most fitting as the fiery music feels and smells very much like Punk, thrashy guitars and shouty attitude, but underneath the sound of something else is happening – people are thinking. Besides all that strumming you will also find the early-ish strains of electronic music in the UK from the likes of Throbbing Gristle and The Human League. And as time moved on so did the incorporation of distant influences allowing room for manoeuvre showcased by the diversity of Echo & The Bunnymen, Poison Girls, Joy Division, The The, plus The Associates. So as you can see it covers the full spectrum and beyond. Then there’s The Slits and proceeding onto the liquid funk (not a term) of New Asia, 23 Skidoo, and Biting Tongues on CD five while finally reaching the destination outlined by This Heat who end with Radio Prague. At a time when lots of things all seemed to happen at once, colliding headlong, maybe you can indeed learn from history taking on board such a wealth of ideas. And maybe if you take time to look below the surface then that is exactly what is still happening today.
PS. Neil Taylor provides 48 pages of sleeve notes. So expect to have your horizons expanded and informed further.
Too hot to handle? At a total of 86 soul-soaring tracks this is almost too much to get a handle on. But that breathless feeling soon equates to inspiration plus good times galore. Detailing the electrifying era between 1957 to 1977 the story begins with the Rhythm &Blues/ Rock’n’Roll strains of The Falcons delirious ‘Sent Up’ and then proceeds to highlight the various soulful leanings, tempo’s and harmonies all employed by a dizzying array of groups from that period, initially pre-dating and then running along the same timeline as Talma Motown. Revealingly this plays as the other side to Detroit’s more readily familiar story to explore a stunning selection of music, which for those who like to study the development of such things, excitingly evolved while retaining that all essential element: Soul. Very much evident across the breadth of CD two ending suitably on the Just Brothers beautifully voiced, resolutely hopeful – Things Will Be Better Tomorrow, from 1967. The Wigan Casino ‘oldie’ Can’t Turn Around by Fork In The Road features on the third CD as the music proceeds to traverse those sights and sounds that came to typify the Northern Soul scene’s succinct, crisp story telling. While the third disc ends on the Edwin Starr penned and most joyous, Oh How Happy covered by Shades Of Blue. Soul On Fire secures an exemplary, trip down memory lane which at the very least provides a timely education in Detroit’s rich and most varied musical past. One that unquestionably helped lay the initial foundations of what eventually became today’s Dance Music – though you might not quite believe it!
As Buzzcocks once sang: Nostalgia. Dreams are afloat and you can dive headlong into this epic, expansive trip down memory lane. Beginning at the (almost) point of Punk Rock with Buzzcocks Spiral Scratch EP (still got mine) this selection co-hosted by the indispensable Manchester music archive MDMA gets seriously disorientating by the breadth of records on offer here across several CD’s. Indeed it might be a smart idea to explore the site as the sounds unfold to add a visual context. This brilliantly realised sequence – yes the time worn Factory legends are present (as always) – but this compilation impressively digs much deeper to reveal inclusions from people you’ve never heard of, evoking a riotous celebration of colour. As the title says its ‘Independent’ music from 1977 through to 1993 – not sure why it ends there, maybe there simply wasn’t room for an eighth! And all sorts of my personal favourites from the era are present from Magazine: The Light Pours Out Of Me, Joy Division: She’s Lost Control and so on. But also music from the next decade’s Dance and then House explosion with Quando Quango’s Love Tempo plus 52nd Street’s Cool As Ice and A Certain Ratio predating T-Coy: Carino and of course Gerald’s: Voodoo Ray. The list then delivers more typically ‘Indie’ sounds via James, Happy Mondays and the rest providing all sorts of reasons for you to investigate further. In ways you should just ignore this review and go look at the tracklist for yourself, as when is it not a delight to hear The Fall’s speedy Rowche Rumble or indeed music by the Durutti Column. When they said: Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be, they were dead right.
If the title alone isn’t enough to get readers of Magazine Sixty elevated in anticipation I don’t know what else might be. This brilliantly enjoyable romp through music that defined its own space outside of American R&B veers between the charming synthesized melodies of Party Talk by André De Koning right down to Front 242’s pulsating, caustic Principles. Expansive sleeve notes come from Dave Henderson who fills in all the necessary details but for now this 4 CD set is a must. Relish the challenging Godot Was Here by Human Flesh or the more unforgiving electricity generated by Diseño Corbusier – Flanco Dama. Either way this selection will both entertain and then toy with ideas of what is deemed acceptable, Art and perhaps another word beginning with A, proving that life and provocative music existed in forgotten, far-flung corners (until now). Besides which, Glue Head by the fantastic Yello is to found here.
Again we return to all matters Divine as Cherry Pop re-issue this album which first appeared on Bobby O’s “O” Records back in 1982. Although this time round you’re treated to a second disc crammed with the delight of various remixes etc. But back to the original with its killer line-up of material. All the early and infamous singles are present: Native Love (Step by Step), Shoot Your Shoot plus the uber trash classic Shake It Up, as well as hidden nuggets like the proto-electro Alphabet Rap. Of course it’s all about the singer, although in reality it’s also very much about Bobby O’s fierce production ethic which kicks and screams at you, much as Divine does. So onto Disc two which has remixes by Jon Of The Pleased Wimmin and Mark Moore amongst others lending their sheen to the favourites. Essential living.
Deee-Lite exploded onto 1990 with a dizzy sense of excitement that is still very much obvious with the re-release of their debut album. And typically of that year while House Music fuelled the rhythms other elements are proudly at play too. Their music is as much a celebration of club culture both historically, featuring the likes of Maceo Parker and Bootsy Collins, while placing what had gone on before in a typically contemporary setting. Never afraid to use breaks and reference points but then they didn’t shy away from injecting a brash melody into the arrangements either with Lady Miss Kier proving to personify the groups sheer exuberance. What Is Love and Good Beat sound just as hot as back then, though some of what were new sounds from that era feel dated now, as is inevitable. But equally the final track, Build The Bridge should leave you in no doubt as to the impact World Clique had and has. The album also comes with a second CD containing all the essential remixes.
Action Time Vision: A Story of UK Independent Punk 1976-1979
Cherry Red Records
Cherry Red add to their sterling series of comprehension genre selections with this fresh rendering of early Independent UK Punk numbers. I’m confessing to personal involvement with the era playing bass in the initial incarnation of The Defects around the time that Belfast’s Good Vibrations records store plus label was in full swing, and it’s timely to hear the inclusions from back then by The Outcasts – Greg Cowan’s crowning glory bassline: Just Another Teenage Rebel – and Rudi’s perfect antidote to what it all became: Big Time. The title of the compilation is gleaned from Alternative TV’s dead-pan yet catchy single of the same name and what’s so breath-taking here is the sheer wealth of energy and intense commitment to some sort of belief in ourselves. In reflection perhaps it may all sound a bit naive, or crass even, through todays more cyclical (self-centred) glance but for anyone who loves this music so many of these songs still strike that chord. Funny, I thought this would all now feel terribly dated but in fact the opposite is true. It sounds even more vital, more real given today’s fantasy society of glitz and false credit. There is of course an obvious parallel to be drawn today between Punk’s picking up a guitar and saying something with it and by contemporary readily available electronics – creating something exciting then sharing the idea. Meanwhile, Action Time Vision provides a fascinating, pointed contrast to the first blaze of synthesizer inspired noises also coming out of the UK in the later seventies via Cherry Red’s equally important compilation: Close To The Noise Floor. I guess that’s all simply down to attitude? And that’s where and when the story got all the more interesting for me as new musical possibilities blended with the thought processes’ offered by Punk.
PS. Kris Needs supplies an excellent, indespensable 64 page spread of all you need to know.
Release: December 9
Hi Pauline, thanks for taking time out to do this for Magazine Sixty. I wanted to begin by asking what do the words ‘Soul Music’ mean for you in 2016.
Feeling is the language of the Soul. I love when an Artiste have the ability to convey feelings through music, melody and words. In 2016 I find I am quite moved by Disclosure. They are extremely talented musicians. The sound of their production is quite unlike anything around. The ‘Omen” Disclosure Ft Sam Smith is very moving and soulful to me. I have noted that Disclosure only work with singers who sing from the soul, very expressed. It is my favorite Sam Smith rendition. When Disclosure collaborated with Mary J. Blige “F FOR YOU” it was apparent that these Uber Cool Cats really understood the language of Soul Music. I have a lot of admiration for their keen eye on quality Soulful productions. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to collaborate with Disclosure. The double billing at the 02 in October with Mary J. Blige and Maxwell was phenomenal. I was in a world of Pure Soul Music and possibly the best concert I have ever seen in a long time bar Michael Jackson’s showmanship. I was left feeling truly inspired.
On a slightly different note, the “House Gospel Choir”, where Gospel Singing meets House Music. Labrynth is not the only musical member in his family. His sister Shezar, who has also had a successful solo career, leads the band, innovatively mixing House music with quality vocals and amazing harmonies. This is as good as “Soulful Modern Music” gets. Gospel fused with uplifting energetic House tracks is VERY COOL. One of my the songs they Sing to is the outstanding House track “Follow Me – Aly us ” I get goose bumps just thinking about it. Shezar introduced me to Amede Unabona from the band, he now does back up vocals for me. He is absolutely awesome and an amazing person, and now a permanent member of my team as we also work together in other areas. The House Gospel Choir is performing at Jazz café in December 2016. Don’t miss it. ..I can’t wait!!
And how do you find working in today’s music industry and the digital age compared with when you were in The Chimes?
The technology that you got to keep up with is exasperating. It is a strain because of the speed of progress. The challenge is keeping abreast of the rapid pace. The advancements are frighteningly fast. Computer and Social media Specialists are now staples requirements for a successful music career.
In the Chimes so much more physical interactions and movement was necessary to produce a record. I spent long periods away from home, from my family and friends while working on the Chimes album, terribly lonely times I recall. I lost out on important occasions and ontact with so many of friends because of this, especially my friends America where I live for a year. Now, it is amazing to be able to communicate with Family, Friends, Fans and the Music Industry at large via all the advanced technology at our fingertips most of which is free.
Digital production massively reduces the costs and time of producing music. I worked with “Stonebridge” in Sweden and “DJSpen” in USA on House mixes of “HEAVEN’ found on Disk 2. I never left London.
There is also the growth of independent music. Independent Artistes are FREE to do what they want to do, without constraints or dictates, and LIVE their lives accordingly. This is particularly important for a mature artiste like myself. I have a family now and want to perue other interests outside music. Major labels are no longer the only vehicle to get music out there. If you have a computer and know how to use Logic for example, you are effectively a producer and can sell music via online aggregators. Everything from marketing, promotion and sales can be done at the click of a button. All you need is an account. This is phenomenal freedom.
YouTube is such an amazing medium. So much information is available freely on line. Where it works for artiste, it reaches people who share the same musical interests all over the world and acts as a ‘High Visibility Calling Card” where you can promote yourself, build your fan base and following.We are so privileged to live in an ere where available where infinite amount information is available freely. We live virtually, computers run out lives, that’s leaves us open to a level of intrusion in our private lives which is a necessary evil.
There is a small percentage of People who upload other people’s work online AND make money from it. This needs to be challenged so that the benefits go the right people who have created it, invested time and money in producing it. Much scrutiny and specialist knowledge is needed to safe guards your music in the digital era, because as it stands there is no requirement or proof of Ownership / ID for the Right to use another’s image or Copyright material. Proof is not a requirement when uploading content, which is “Copyright Theft” of other people’s work, and the Law so far seem inadequate to combat this.
Producing music is a fraction of the cost, it is also easy to buy just the track you want so purchase cost is also minimal, profits made in online sales, but available for sale at minimal cost for infinity once uploaded. There is no going back with Technology, models like Spotify creates the right platform, where music is freely enjoyed but they pay a revenue to the owners of the music. Compared with the days of the Chimes, we don’t make the kind of money we were used to making from the physical production of music. It was a huge financial undertaking for Major labels, but it was the golden era of Live Performances and Cd Album sales. I commend Big Break Records for taking the decision to manufacture physical copies only of ‘Chimes Re mastered .” There is also a new found of appreciation for physical CDs. Vinyl records, and Live Performance of good Music, somewhat lost in the emergence of the digital era.
Big Break Records have re-released and re mastered The Chimes debut album. How would you place the importance of the group in the context of when it was released? And if possible is there a particular track that holds a special memory for you from it?
A huge Thank YOU to Big Break Records and the team at Cherry Red for re mastering and re releasing the Chimes Double CD Album. Now 26 years old, I feel a sense of pride, as it is a testament that our music stood the test of time. A dream come true for me, in respect to paying homage to timeless music rhythms. On CD2 there are so many fresh mixes, never been released. They still sound relevant today. I will be focusing on those in my live shows. Singing familiar song with a fresh twist will be very enjoyable. I am encouraged by the interest. Re working the songs feels so surreal, a sense of DeJaVou.
When the Chimes Album was first released, it was well received by the general public. We were riding the crest of a new wave and appetite for Live Soulful yet Urban style Club Music. Where Street meets Musical Craftsmanship. Classical string productions and Brass sections were “In”…. and Phat Drums with Heavy Base lines were the order of the day.
Mike, James and I, had all served our apprenticeship in music, developing our craft, they were accomplished musicians and for me, a musical heritage inspired by the 70s era of Motown and Soulful Legends. Consisting of Raw Talent- Organic Live Sounds Musical Craftsmanship and Timeless rhythms. This was my aspiration, so it was a perfect time for the Chimes to emerged. The cream of Soul Singers, Song writers and Producers like, Family Stand- “Ghetto Heaven”, Young Disciples “Apparently Nothing” and En Vogue – “Hold On” – are joyously a few of my Peers in the late 80’s to 90’s. Soul II Soul being the forerunners, encapsulated all the above. They had a massive impact on the Street Soul cross over. The Chimes were privileged to work with Jazzie B and Nellie Hooper on two songs, “1-2-3” and “True Love So Strong”. Few bands went on to break America and the Chimes did that successfully, in particular with the USA mix of “I Still Haven’t Found What I ‘Am Looking For” on (Disc 1).
Bono making THAT comment about our version and my interpretation of
the song was quite remarkable, now a memory for others too, it always crops up in interviews, and in light of new information I stumbled across on YouTube, with Bono saying they used the Harlem Gospel Choir to get a Soulful feel, now make much more sense to me. It marked global success and achievement for the Chimes, such that it separated us from the norm and carved out our very own USP crossing Rock with RnB.
But.. the track that holds a special but “strange” memory is “Love Comes To Mind”. I still really enjoy performing it this song. The extended mix (CD2) is also a favorite of mine with the extended Base Line Groove. I am really not sure where the saying comes from. but babies are said to have been made due to this Love Song. I love it from the very Tile.. The thing I praise and acknowledge James Lock for.. Boy he could Pen a lyric. I fell in love with his poetic flow of words, hours and hours of crumpling paper until he was happy. We all took it in turns to write parts but the final editing was always down to James. This I consider HIS baby. What is more incredible, I don’t sound Drunk on “Love Comes To Mind”. WHY..? because my A&R (artiste representative) got me drunk then asked me to sing the vocals again. I DID NOT KNOW THAT WAS COMING. Seems he wanted something different from my performance that he did not hear when I was sober. Very unorthodox I know but it seemed to have done the trick. He left the studio ‘Grinning” like a Cheshire Cat. Now there is a man who knows what he want to hear and how to get the results. I on the other hand, was very proud of myself to have pulled that off. I happen to think it is one of my best vocal recordings. When I stepped into the recording booth for the second time, Marvin Gaye (my musical ancestor and guide) stepped in the studio with me like an Angel, serving as my inspiration and filling my head with melodies and harmonies in abundance.., layers and sub layers of the stuff,, Me grooving and feeling every impassioned word and nuance, state of mind is euphoric, and very relaxed while inebriated with Mike’s Peden’s Hypnotic base line keeping me in the Groove. A real master piece I think. The video to “Love Comes To Mind” is also one of my favorites. It is beautifully shot with happy loved up couples, even Myself, Mike and James appear to have a Aaaahhh moment altogether, which lends itself perfectly to the sentiment of the song. There are also members of my family in the Video, including my dear Aunt now passed. Fund memories all round.
Can you tell us about how you approach a song, either writing or singing? Do you have a preference as to what type or tempo of music you like to sing to?
I generally have a lot of energy and love to Dance. I enjoy performing songs like Heaven, and think people like songs that makes them want to move. It is no surprise that “HEAVEN” was selected for extra reworking by GRAMMY nominated StoneBridge. The producer of the Robin S classic ‘Show Me Love’ who has many Bill Board Chart toppers to date, and also with renowned US re-mixer DJ Spen (& Reelsoul Rodriquez) having worked with Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Everything but the Girl. They both bring a modern Dance twist to be found on CD2.
When I worked in the Chimes, we had a fixed way of writing. Mike and James would prepare sketches of music. I would then fly to Scotland and spend two to three weeks there. On hearing the sketches I would gravitate to one or the other, usually lyrics would flow from there. As a result I have always written that way, with a producer sending me a backing track I like then write to.
Recently I have been collaborating on new material with Carl Mackintosh who wrote for Loose Ends. He took me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to write a story first. It was like a therapy session. I realize I could no longer hide behind singing only positive pretty love songs. Carl wanted the negatives too, as without it there really was no depth. This was one of the hardest things I had ever had to do in my writing career, write about real life experiences, usually involving pain or darkness of a kind, as opposed to working from a vibe I liked which would naturally stimulate positive feelings to sing about. After challenging myself to write more honestly, I loved the end results, and very different. There is nothing wrong with either formats, just different process. I read once that David Bowie would tear words he liked from news papers and formulate his lyrics that way. So ultimately what ever works for the individual. When I wrote from the heart, the lyrics had more meaning. I can readily inform my audience what inspired me to write that song.
What is your favorite instrument? And do you own one?
I would have to say a Grand Piano. I do own both a Guitar and Piano.
What advice would you give to someone starting out as an artist?
Expect the Unexpected. If you expect to find overnight fame and fortune, think again. A lot of soul searching is needed first. A starting point would be to examine your heart. Ask yourself why you want to succeed in the music business? What do you know about the industry? The old adage, “IF YOU FAIL TO PREPARE, YOU PREPARE TO FAIL”. Make it your business to learn about every part of the business because if you don’t someone WILL take advantage of you along the way.
Because of what happened in the past with myself, not understanding the business, I am having to put on seminars to help educate artiste and musicians alike, imparting my knowledge and wisdom gained from many years working in the industry both as an artiste and as an entrepreneur. Education is key, the knowledge you gain will dictate the kind of money you earn, and your sustainability. I have a website you can visit and find out more http://paulinehenry.com
Who remains your biggest influence and why?
My Father Charles Henry remain my biggest influence to date. He instilled in me the quest for Knowledge, Wisdom, Drive, and Determination, and to be the best I can be. I have inherited his love of learning, such that I went on to study Law, did my Masters in IP Law, did a Chef Degree, also one of my passions, while raising my daughter. The extra knowledge I have invested in has helped me to grow. There is still so much more I am interested in, Horticulture, Spiritual Growth, being proficient in IT, and expand my music seminars in developing artiste alike and still mentioning my primarily passion and life’s purpose, which is MAKING MUSIC.
There will be plenty of time to relax when I am old and frail. My Dad was the same, a ball of energy always on the go, which made him an interesting and vibrant personality to be around, helping the community and inspiring young people.
My gratitude and appreciation for my Father, extends to the things that he did that were great, and the things that he did that were not so great, especially in appreciation of all the negative stuff, it turned out to be an opportunity for me to learn and grow, and the importance of developing emotional maturity to help me to be a better example to my Family. I have become all the more because of them. He is a huge part of who I am today.
What have you got planned for 2017?
2017 is going to be an amazing year. From now through to 2017 I am currently promoting the CD, with interviews press and radio promotions.
I am working with my agent on plans for some Live Tour dates and Appearances soon to be announced. Updates can be found on my website http://paulinehenry.com
The Chimes are also planning to do some Re Union shows in Australia, NYC and London. Between our crazy schedules and wide demographics, a new record is planned in 2017. It will be fun working with Mike and James after all this time.
I am also working on completely new recordings to be released in 2017, and look forward to bringing something new to the industry and taking to the Live Stage in a venue near YOU…..Thank you to everyone how have supported our Music.
Grover Washington JR.
The Definitive Collection: Deluxe Edition
I was introduced to Grover Washington JR. like many I suspect from my generation who first heard the classic break from the equally classic Mister Magic, albeit sampled on a Hip-Hop record. Some years later and this excellent compilation of the range and diversity that the artist has to offer becomes all the more apparent. Opening this double CD selection is his fiery cover of Inner City Blues – perhaps all the more incendiary, even minus the vocal. The music then blows between the smoother more melodic sounds of No Tears In The End through to the tougher street funk of Knucklehead. Also included are ‘featured on’ tracks such as Idris Muhammad’s beautiful Loran’s Dance, as well as Bill Withers ‘Just The Two Of Us’, plus the sublime Asphalt Canyon Blues recorded with Kenny Burrell for Blue Note. Do read Charles Waring’s sleeve notes too and you won’t miss a beat.