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Academic book 'The Northern Soul Scene'

Posted

I've just finished reading this book, published by Equinox this year, and edited by Sarah Raine, Tim Wall & Nicola Watchman Smith. It was a birthday present, and interestingly I'm about to move onto another book I got for my birthday too, also called 'The Northern Soul Scene' by Steve Sayles. Two very different books I think!

Anyway, just to comment on the Equinox book, in case it's of interest to people on Soul Source. The academic aspect of the book is clearly set out, but I did find it heavy going (I do have an action-research based MA, so it shouldn't be entirely beyond me!) and found myself wavering between finding the generalist academic concerns a bit tedious while at other moments thinking "That's interesting, good point." The chapters that read with the most interest for me were by Ady Croasdell looking at bootlegs and his experience of legal reissues via Kent; Andrew Wilson relating his personal experience of amphetamines and the scene but set in the context of his position now as a Senior Lecturer in Criminology; and Paul Sadot's chapter that goes into quite a lot of fascinating detail about dancing as well as being quite strongly supportive of the key value of seeking out new, obscure soul.

Some of the threads that emerge through the book include: The position of women within 'roles' such as dancers, collectors, DJs and promoters; the lack of emphasis on live performance as opposed to the recorded vinyl; the contrast between the largely white British audience that developed the scene compared with the mainly black artists and labels of the product; and the challenges faced by those of both the older and newer generation of 'Soulies' with regard to demonstrating that each of us is a valid participant, that we have the knowledge and/or experience and love and interest in the music to not just be a flash in the pan tourist.   

If you have the time, definitely worth a read.

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Posted

Think I went to the lecture they did at Salford Uni. Will have a look out for the book. 

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Posted

Looks interesting Sean  do you have a link to buy it ?  Cheers Eddie 

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Posted
3 minutes ago, Eddie Hubbard said:

Looks interesting Sean  do you have a link to buy it ?  Cheers Eddie 

Hi Ed,

I had put it onto my Amazon wishlist, so hopefully this should work:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Northern-Scene-Studies-Popular-Music/dp/1781795584/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2NZBUQMZ4VKKL&keywords=the+northern+soul+scene&qid=1568745678&sprefix=the+northern+soul%2Caps%2C157&sr=8-1

 

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Posted (edited)

So Ady gets published on bootlegs yet my painstaking work on the subject got turned down !

An extract from chapter 38

"That's a bootleg. That's a bootleg. That's a bootleg. That's not a bootleg. That's a bootleg. That's a bootleg. That's a bootleg. That's a bootleg. That's a bootleg....."

I did throw in some gratuitous sex in chapter 102 as a selling point.

I was going to follow up with a book looking at just legs but the publisher felt I was going out on a limb with that

Edited by Modernsoulsucks
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I’ve got the book and am working through it slowly. Even though I have bits of paper from three uni’s, it’s still a tough read. It is pretty academic and presented on an analytical level. I have had the book for six months but I am only up to page 64 - the next subheading where I will pick up reading next is ‘Post-subcultural subcultural play’ so you can see this is a work to dwell on rather than a page turner.

The book contains some good sections that I am looking forward to. Trouble is, when you are a record collector, travelling the States and browsing online, important things like reading get put off. I will now set myself a target of reading some of The Northern Soul book every week.

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On 21/09/2019 at 10:06, Frankie Crocker said:

The book contains some good sections that I am looking forward to. Trouble is, when you are a record collector, travelling the States and browsing online, important things like reading get put off. I will now set myself a target of reading some of The Northern Soul book every week.

Sounds like a good plan.

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Posted

It's encouraging to see the discussion on here and my respect to those taking the time to read and critique it. It was, I believe, compiled to present Northern Soul as a clear field of academic study, which it has now been for quite a while. Northern Soul exists on the popular dance dance syllabus at quite a few universities and is also of great interest to sociologists and criminologists at university/research level. Not surprising really, as much has happened over five decades and it is a very deep and nuanced scene that belies the narrow lens and approach that many commentators have applied to it to date. Within the scenes history (and future) there are multiple avenues of study that contain valuable insights into social, political, historical, musical, corporeal and cultural developments in the UK (and elsewhere). The book will hopefully start a conversation and invoke critique(s) and responses that allow the subject area to grow and, in doing so, articulate the importance of the contribution that Northern Soul has made to the sub-cultural and cultural landscape of the UK (and beyond).

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sociologists and criminologists at university/research level?  That would be the drug culture would it not?  It is so tame nowadays would they find much of interest to a criminologist?  Maybe the bootlegging?  Yes. drugs are still about but no more than any club scene, even the local townies.

As I mentioned earlier I attended the lecture the author gave at Salford and whilst she had a basic understanding there was still much they got wrong or didn't understand.  Much of what they "lectured" was still researched from the 70s it seemed and not much from the intervening decades.  Be interesting to see how much of a better understanding they have in the passing years between the lecture and the publication.

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3 hours ago, Chalky said:

sociologists and criminologists at university/research level?  That would be the drug culture would it not?  It is so tame nowadays would they find much of interest to a criminologist?  Maybe the bootlegging?  Yes. drugs are still about but no more than any club scene, even the local townies.

As I mentioned earlier I attended the lecture the author gave at Salford and whilst she had a basic understanding there was still much they got wrong or didn't understand.  Much of what they "lectured" was still researched from the 70s it seemed and not much from the intervening decades.  Be interesting to see how much of a better understanding they have in the passing years between the lecture and the publication.

I have no idea about a lecture, but imagine that could be painful. There is no one author for the book. It has three co-editors but multiple contributors from different eras across the scene. You may have seen a lecture by one of the editors. I think the book is intended to address the Wigan-centric reflections that precede it, my chapter certainly is. Whether it succeeds or not is up to the readers I guess, but hopefully it starts the ball rolling. Sociologist and criminologists engage with it on many levels I think, drugs are an obvious one (but more retrospectively nowadays) but also cultural capital passed on through generations via records, knowledge and other things. I agree it's all a bit tame nowadays but perhaps the criminally soul-less events of some promoters would qualify or the development of criminally tasteless Northern Soul 'Pool Parties' which I just saw advertised. It's all getting very glitzy, so maybe 'luxury Northern Soul events' will be the next evolutionary stage.😉

 

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7 hours ago, paul-s said:

I have no idea about a lecture, but imagine that could be painful. There is no one author for the book. It has three co-editors but multiple contributors from different eras across the scene. You may have seen a lecture by one of the editors. I think the book is intended to address the Wigan-centric reflections that precede it, my chapter certainly is. Whether it succeeds or not is up to the readers I guess, but hopefully it starts the ball rolling. Sociologist and criminologists engage with it on many levels I think, drugs are an obvious one (but more retrospectively nowadays) but also cultural capital passed on through generations via records, knowledge and other things. I agree it's all a bit tame nowadays but perhaps the criminally soul-less events of some promoters would qualify or the development of criminally tasteless Northern Soul 'Pool Parties' which I just saw advertised. It's all getting very glitzy, so maybe 'luxury Northern Soul events' will be the next evolutionary stage.😉

 

Along side Nicola, the other lecturers were Tim Wall, David Sanjek, Lucy Gibson and Ady who gave us his insight into the record side of the business.

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15 hours ago, Chalky said:

Along side Nicola, the other lecturers were Tim Wall, David Sanjek, Lucy Gibson and Ady who gave us his insight into the record side of the business.

Ah ok. Well, I know Tim and Nicola and Ady of course. I didn't know David, but he was a well respected Professor of popular music I think, and he has a really interesting bio: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Sanjek   Sadly he died unexpectedly of a heart attack. No idea who Lucy is.

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Just received news that 'The Northern Soul Scene' book has been nominated for the 2020 Association for Recorded Sounds Collection Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research. The winners will be announced in September.

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Posted (edited)

I haven't read the book but did attend the lecture and in all seriousness it wasn't great. They may be respected in their field, I honestly couldn't say, but soul scene academics? They couldn't have been more off the mark.

The only one who actually seemed to get it was Lucy Gibson, and Ady of course. The audience gave them an excruciatingly hard time and rightly so :lol:

 

Edited by Jumpinjoan
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Nicola w smith is my mates daughter from here in bishop Auckland she was at my  50th birthday party kitch was djing also Gaz Simons and George Hunt, I know she was at collage and doing a degree and was into northern a bit but I never knew it had gone any further, cant comment on the lecture just thought I would mention it ,she also was at piercebridge  soul nite a couple of times Colin

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I did chuckle when I read this because the same  has been done with other scenes ie Punk Rock and Roll etc both of which have the durability of the northern scene . 
Every thing about the scene is subjective anyway and a very strong argument could be formulated re the cultural significance “ although I do understand that a fish shop in Grimsby has just just opened called Northern Sole  “. Lol . 

This is supported by mugs a northern soul vibrator with Donald Trump wearing baggies and lovey fashion parade outside a certain shopping centre which culminated in many Greg’s pasties been eaten ! 
Sadly most of the hardcore people that really should of been talked to re the research have sadly passed now and the scene has become a total sanitised charade with the last commercial drop been rung out of it ! 
Saying that I like the idea of a pool party but it’s minus 4 in the north east today 😂

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