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Young Soul Rebels - Book Review

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Stuart Cosgrove Young Soul Rebels - A Personal History Of Northern Soul - Polygon Press - ISBN 9-781846-973338


Stuart Cosgrove is a world acclaimed author, journalist, and broadcaster on both radio and TV. In fact, in 2012 he won a BAFTA for Channel 4’s coverage of the Paralympics. He’s been Broadcaster Of The Year in Scotland, and held several executive positions at Channel 4 (And was responsible for signing the show ‘Friends’ to the Channel in the UK.), and hosts a weekly show on Radio Scotland about his passion for Scottish football.  But that’s just a disguise he wears for the day job, because in reality, he’s one of us !

To use a phrase currently in vogue, Stuart is one of the ‘Children Of The Night’, and has probably devoted for more time, thought, and energy to his lifelong passion; Northern Soul, than he has to any of his jobs over the last forty years.

As I said when I reviewed Gethro Jones’ book, it’s hard to do a review of a book like this without giving the whole game away, so I’m going to use some quotes from Stuart to illustrate how the book covers his involvement in the scene.

In fact, the very first sentence made me laugh out loud. This is how to get the attention of your readers;

“Nothing will ever compare to the amphetamine rush of my young life and the night I was nearly buggered by my girlfriend’s uncle in the Potteries”

I can see why nothing would ever compare to that Stuart ! However, to reach that point Stuart describes his upbringing in Perth, and how he was first introduced to the music of black America, and how much it would hold sway over the rest of his life. The opening sentence refers to his first visit to The Torch allnighter in Tunstall, but I’ll let you read whether he survived this predicament yourselves.

I’m also rather impressed by the way that Stuart has woven short biographies of artists into the story, songs that reverberated round the Torch by Tony Clarke and Darrell Banks lead to a couple of pages of detail about the two artists.

There are also links to events in the wider world that tie into the scene in the book as well. The Miner’s Strike (Especially as Stuart was living in Yorkshire at the time), gets a lot of coverage, as does Leeds Central Club, both of which were important to Stuart, and the chapter about the Yorkshire Ripper is particularly poignant.

A theory about why Northern Soul Clubs became popular in old fashioned coastal towns stands up to examination as well, and never having thought about this, what Stuart says is absolutely correct.

“The story of Northern Soul could be told without ever leaving England’s decaying coastal towns: Blackpool, Cleethorpes, Scarborough, Bridlington, Morecombe, Whitley Bay, Southport and Prestatyn, each in their own way played host to rare Soul venues.”

Having lived in the North of England, both Lancashire and Yorkshire Stuart’s day job takes him down to London, and with it, the opportunity to visit the States (and even study there for a while), but throughout, the Soul Boy inner core burned bright. His description of finding a copy of ‘Hey Boy’ by the D C Blossoms is sheer poetry:

“It was there, in the segregated south, in a tightly packed wall of discs, some of them splattered with grey paint, that I finally found it. For some reason, unfathomable, and beyond geographic logic, there was a copy of The D C Blossoms.”

I realise that I’m skipping whole portions of the book, by ignoring Stafford (But there again I didn’t mention Wigan either), Allanton, and The 100 Club, all of which get quite extensive mentions, but I want to focus on two more things before I end this review.

A lot of the book covers people that Stuart knew well, some of whom who are no longer with us, so it’s nice to see Bub, and Pete Lawson, getting several pages each. Not many people would have been able to write so eloquently about two of the scene’s biggest characters, both different, but both equally essential to the history of the scene, so it is nice to see them remembered in this way.

The final chapter of the book talks about how Northern Soul is thriving today, and making use of the new technologies to do so, Facebook, YouTube etc however, Stuart’s views are similar to my own on this subject:

“The media is interested again, but I remain unsure that Northern Soul wants the attention that currently shines on its rituals. It is at its best as a ‘secret’ underground and should always maintain a healthy distrust of the false promises that the media brings.”

 It’s funny, although I know nearly all the people Stuart talks about in the book, with the exception of the early years. I think I only met him twice, although I know we were in the same venues quite a few times, so I think that has allowed me to be fairly objective in my review. This really is a good book, it truly is a personal history, but it weaves its way through my own history as well, (I even get a name check on page 139) and I’m sure that is how most of the people reading the book will also feel.

That just leaves me with two things to say: Buy the book, you won’t regret it, and check out Stuart’s other book about Soul Music and social history ‘Detroit ‘67’.

Dave Rimmer. May 2016


Book Preview


New Releases, Popular Music & Culture
Pub. Date
19 May 2016
Paperback (also available as an ebook)
Available for Sale
Birlinn Ltd
No of Pages
Illustrated throughout

Young Soul Rebels: A Personal History of Northern Soul by Stuart Cosgrove 

Available to purchase via the usual suspects




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Best review I've read in ages Dave, I'll buy the book!! 

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I appreciate your kind words and support Dave. Coming from the scene that matters a lot to me.

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The book arrived on Friday and after a very quick flick through I'm looking forward to reading it - and your review makes it sound like I won't be disappointed!

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I'm a complete stranger to this scene but after having read his fantastic "Detroit 67" I had to order this book. I'm sure I won't be disapointed as he's a very talented/understandable writer, even for a non English fluent reader like me !

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Got it last week and finished it Thursday - fantastic read and not only the stuff regarding the Northern scene - but also a real social commentary about what life was like at the time and some of the events that shaped our youth.  Thoroughly recommend this.

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Great Review Dave, I'm not a big reader of books but I bought this and enjoyed reading it whilst away last week.

It was written with passion and a great deal of professional journalism.I enjoyed how the events of the time were inter tangled and the same with certain artists histories also.

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And a heartfelt thank you to Stuart for my mention in the book. I'm very honoured and very humbled. Respect x

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After giving up on getting the cheaper version decided to splash out to celebrate my first northern record purchase on wed with the book.

finished it yesterday and as someone not from the scene Finally there is an explanation of the schism on the scene that isn't just a description of mecca versus Wigan but a well explained description of oldies upfront etc.

I also found it refreshing that the seventies were truly depicted regarding the randomness of violence that seems to be getting airbrushed from some misty  eyed memories of the era.

I found one typo and the first mention of  one of my favourite books of all time album sulphate.

I have started flicking through it already looking for info to memorise so although I can never agree with the author on the best football team in Scotland I will be enjoying this book for a long time and no one will be getting a borrow..




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I received it last Friday, read the first 40 or so pages last night, didn't want to put it down, enjoyed it that much!!  but you  when you want something to last [like a nice 45]

Thank you and thumbs up Stuart Cosgrove


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Unlike most on the subject IMO this is a great and accurate read, really well written and also doesn't just stop the story at Wigan.

Really is worth buying. 

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Halfway through and absolutely loving it. Superbly written and a genuinely authentic account; as you would expect if you've read his other stuff. A must buy!

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21 hours ago, Byrney said:

Unlike most on the subject IMO this is a great and accurate read, really well written and also doesn't just stop the story at Wigan.

Really is worth buying. 

Totally agree. Also tells the real story of Wigan along the way...

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Finished it just half an hour ago. Excellent book, lots of great detail without losing the page-turner feel of a well written piece of literature. It brings people and the music to life; despite the sad personal note at the end of the book, it is an uplifting account of the past 50 years and points towards decades to come.

Although I recognised aspects of myself in the various references to the obsessive nature of our craft, I did manage to resist reading the glossary and index! I was also very pleased to see that it had been very well edited - although I found Detroit '67 interesting to read, it was littered with typos.

Look forward to the next book!

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Received mine today - well maybe yesterday, I wasn't in the office. My room is quite old and still has an old mantle piece - it's sat on there. A few people have picked it up and sort of mmmmmmmmmmmmm'd at it..................................... :D It's like the black arts. 

Thanks  Dave.


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Very good and enjoyable book, with some excellent stories and interesting photos, and pleasing to see that the typos that slightly spoilt Detroit'67 have been sorted out. 

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I got this at the weekend and finished it in two days of glorious Irish June sunshine - which in itself is as rare as some of the records described in the book .

Its an excellent read I couldn't put it down , it must be up with the best books I've read on the Northern scene .

Refreshing to read a book that's honest  and doesn't think the world begins and ends in Wigan .

It was nice to read about Cleethorpes , Stafford and the 100 Club and the part they played in the scene as well as a few places I'd never heard of .

Some interesting and witty sidelines like the legend of the mighty Bub or the story of the Japanese collector who donned a forensic suit , gloves and mask before trawling through the records at Soul Bowl or another guy who prayed over the records hoping to make a rare find . 

It also worked well giving a social and political setting to what went on in Britain in the 70's and 80's and how that also shaped the scene . 

Well worth purchasing .

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Just finished reading the book and I feel kind of low as i wish there was more, its that good ! 

Finishing the book , reflects getting that record you've always wanted ,only to want another one ! (never content )

It is a Great read , it's down to earth from a young persons perspective , who doesn't want to be force fed commercial music and won't accept that there isn't something more out there.

Characters from across the nation being drawn together by something within themselves.

I Totally recommend this book , "A Must Have" for any Soulie.

Good factual cover of the scenes progressive years too.

Welldone Mr. Cosgrove .

"Keep the Faith"

Frank   Webster  ,    Norwich  Backstreet soul club.


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Just finished this book got it on iBooks 

Fantastic book that captures the feel of what it was like to be part of the "scene" in the 70's

As I left the scene in 1980 only to come back in 2002

It fills in the missing years for me 

Thanks to Stuart and all of the collectors and DJ's that have kept the scene alive and kicking.

Wether it's discovering new gems playing rare sounds or blasting out good old classics long may this true under ground scene survive 


Speedy spikeeee

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I received the book for Father's Day yesterday which was nice so read it while listening to Stuart on Richard Searling's Radio Stoke show talking about it and selecting songs that are mentioned in the book.  It was a good way to combine reading with appropriate listening.

The Radio Stoke show is available for 30 days to listen to online or download at:


A full track listing is at the show page.

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Stuart's doing a Young Soul Rebels reading, Q&A, signing session and guest DJ slot in Glasgow next Saturday (27.08.16) - there will be copies of the book for sale on the night... 

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Just starting chapter 9 of 11.

Great Book.........even "The Motown" in Shaw gets a mention!

Now that's truly comprehensive writing.

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