Tuesday 15 November 2011

Tower of Song

Last weekend's Blackpool Tower Soul Weekender was an unalloyed joy.  Of course the music was immense and invigorating and moving, that was to be expected, but the unseasonably wonderful weather and the sheer beauty of the spectacle of hundreds of people bobbing in unison in a grand old ballroom came as pleasant surprises.  There were some seriously brilliant dancers.  Dancers whose feet seemed to move as fast as hummingbirds' wings.  I could've watched Sam Evans - a former World Northern Soul Dancing champion - dancing for hours.  She put on quite a masterclass early on Sunday afternoon when a lot of folks were still out enjoying the tail end of the sunshine and would've given the much younger Steven Cootes (of Edinburgh...yessss!) who a little controversially took this year's crown, a right run for his money.  Never having been to a weekender before, I got a bit of a jolt when, just flipping through a box of records, I put my hand on an original Revilot issue of Rose Batiste's masterpiece "Hit and Run" with the £250.00 price tag written casually in marker pen on its greying card protector.  Part of me wanted to recklessly throw down a bunch of tenners then and there but sense and the fact that I own a perfectly good copy of the '90s Goldmine reissue prevailed.  The most expensive record I saw?  That was Don Varner's rolllicking "Tear Stained Face" which was priced at £800.00.  I stopped looking after that.  I'm well aware that rare Northern Soul records can fetch quite a sum on ebay or John Manship but to see such madly expensive 7"s just sitting in a box on a bar table and not behind toughened safety glass was wild.  Billy Butler's "The Right Track" became the anthem of the weekend with J and I stomping the deserted streets of Blackpool chanting its emphatic string part over and over after hearing it on Sunday afternoon in the main ballroom.  When played at ballroom wrecking volume it became a Delete button for all the other melodies onto which I'd been vainly clinging in the hope of identifying some day.  Why it wasn't on either volume of Kent's "Okeh: A Northern Soul Obsession"  I'll never know*.  So, a brilliant experience and one that I'd love to repeat next year.

* - Actually, that's not strictly true.  I'm sure that the reason why it wasn't included is because the smart folks at Kent would like you to buy their Billy Butler cd, too!

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