Scottish Herald Article - 100 Club 1999
Here's a article ripped from scotlands top broadsheet - the herald
A few odd things in it but overall a good outside view, thanks to Frank Murphy for pointing it out
Still trying to save soul
Twenty years of dancing and forgotten American singles are celebrated this weekend. KEVIN McCARDLE sets the mood
There must have been times when the most enduring youth cult ever to have flourished in these isles must have seemed to be on its last legs. Few could have dreamed that it would last this long, including one Adrian Croasdell, the man most responsible for its longevity - indeed, for its current good health and its excellent prospects.
But this weekend sees a significant anniversary, as the 100 Club in London's Oxford Street hosts its twentieth anniversary soul all-nighter - 20 years of high kicks and back flips, of Oxford bags and penny loafers, dogtooth checks and rara skirts, of forgotten American 7in singles trading hands for the price of a mid-range BMW.
Not that the 100 Club was the first all-nighter venue, not by a long way - nights at the Twisted Wheel in Manchester, the Mecca in Blackpool, and the world-famous Wigan Casino were all flourishing long before Croasdell and fellow enthusiast Randy Cozens spun those rare, searing pieces of Black American pop to an audience of 200 in a basement club in 1979.
But what the 100 Club has is staying power - and Croasdell's guiding hand. He became interested in promoting all-night dances because "there was nowhere else to go and hear these records in London", and for someone with no experience of club promotion he's rightly chuffed that 20 years later the club is still going strong.
There have been some lean times, however. "In the early to mid-eighties, crowds were very sparse - sometimes only 100 people - and there were times at eight in the morning when everyone had gone and we were playing records just to the bar staff. One time we made £15, and I went with two of the bar staff to the Savoy, and splashed out the £15 on breakfast, looking out over the Thames."
That things picked up again is due in no small measure to Croasdell's day job, as the prime mover behind the reissue supremos, Kent records. Kent's series of reissues began in 1981 with For Dancers Only, a compilation of rare, up-tempo dance records (with outre sleevenotes from "Harbro Horace", Croasdell's compiling alter ego) that appealed not just to the die-hard soul fan but caught the fishtail parka of the early eighties Mod revival, a piece of good fortune that allowed Croasdell to keep on compiling LPs of sixties and seventies rarities with the knowledge that an eager audience existed. It's not unusual nowadays to see the rarer of the Kent LP releases on sale at record fairs for £15 or £20 or more - still a bargain when the original 7in singles of the tracks contained therein can change hands for several thousand pounds in some instances.
As Kent's reissues percolated their way into the hands of a new generation of fans, the Northern and sixties soul scenes have undergone something of a rejuvenation: Croasdell says that there are 10,000 members on the books for the 100 Club's nights, with members as far afield as the antipodes and back again. For this weekend's anniversary, one woman will be travelling from Australia, other revellers will be coming from Germany and France, the Scots will number in their dozens.
What draws them may be hard to explain but is not hard to fathom: Black American music of the sixties and seventies came so close to perfection at times that it inspires nothing short of awe-filled reverence. And to be in the company of several hundred dancers united in a common love of this terribly overlooked music is something close to heaven. For those for whom a mere all-nighter is not enough, Croasdell also organises soul weekenders at a holiday camp near Cleethorpes, where 1000 fans enjoy 72 hours of non-stop soul.
And there's so much quantity, of so much quality: for every hit by the Supremes or the Temptations or the Impressions, there were a hundred, a thousand records that never got beyond the test-pressing stage and more likely found their way across the Atlantic as ship's ballast than as items for retail - and Croasdell, owner of an estimated 50,000 singles and growing, has no doubt that there are still records waiting to be discovered. "I got a mail order list this morning with at least two dozen records on it I've never heard of."
Croasdell collects and compiles these days by label, particular favourites being the polished gems put out by the mighty RCA-Victor organisation (Kent's Rare Collectable and Soulful Vol I is representative of that company's thrilling output), and Atlantic, the cream of whose back catalogue will appear on 25 Kent CDs over the next few years.
And for the next 20 years, Ady? "More of the same - so long as I can still stay awake all night."
For more information on the next 100 Club all-nighter (October 16) or Cleethorpes weekenders, send an SAE to Flat 9, 61 Riding House Street, London W1P 7PP.- Sept 10