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Watery, marketable, Northern Soul

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How many times have I been to a club just to hear overplayed watery, marketable so called Northern soul? Sorry mate can hear that stuff in me kitchen!

There seems to be an influx of new people entering the scene, which some promoters pander to, by palying unimaginative played out, heard it a thousand times before tunes, along with disco sounds under the guise of 70's soul.

It's great to see people loving the music, but since when do you dance with a bottle in your hand and spill it all over the floor? Found myself picking up plastic pint pots off the dance floor recently.

Suppose I'm either a snob or a traditionalist who prefers the scene to stay underground.

Thank God for the rare soul scene. I can escape from the stiletto wearing, bum wiggling, beer drinking, is me hair flicked, disco Diva, taking up my valuable dance space. (Meow)

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Deanne,

interesting comments but you must remember us forty somethings who have returned to the scene from the late seventies early eighties. There is some very knowledgeable people out there who I ask probably stupid questions from time to time but sometimes at venues the popular stuff from that era is necessary to remember those heady days. I will not be the only one and with a good mixture played new sounds are keeping me interested. These are oldies for me but some may like the crossover style.

I certainly agree with you NO DRINKING ON THE FLOOR!

Mike

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As a DJ, I find I'm getting asked to tell people to get off the dancefloor with drinks more and more often.

Shame really, it was always part of the etiquette that you didn't smoke or drink on the dance floor.

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in hind sight maybe it was a good thing that the casino was a dry house for ale(unless you sneeked tinnies in a holdall).paul

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Suppose that is what people want to hear, so eventually it will become played out and same-ish to them too. People will either drop out when the novelty has worn off or start looking for more venues, more variety and keep a genuine interest in the scene.

I come from Derby, someone has to. The popular venues such as the Pennine and Rolls Royce are palces that older people (non-soulies) will go to. They'll enjoy it and treat it as a social event. Oldies and Mowtown are popular on the playlists.

But that's not the true scene. Is it?

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Why does it always come down to the oldies versus newies tussle? I try my best not to argue with anyone, escaping from the scene to curb my consumption of amphetamines and turning to Buddhism was part of that, but I'm back now, maybe sanity, or insanity, brought me through, it still doesn't stop me enjoying the oldies, and if the floor gets filled with something that is considered played out by the younger soulies, then surely they should spend the couple of minutes getting a well earned rest or drink. There should be room for us all to enjoy the music that still manipulates our lives even if after a break of 20 years. There are far more important issues in life, maybe! KTF, DavidC

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dave rimmer. i thought your problem was gettin' people on the dance floor not off it. sorry dave-new mag out yet.

You're so right Mick, it's always been a bugger of a job getting people back onto the dance floor after one of your spots :-)

New mag came out on the 1st of March. See you Thursday if you're at the 100, but don't tell Johnny Weston, it's going to be a horrible surpise for his 40th Birthday.

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I'm compelled to write, since I was going to say something very similar a few weeks back after Prestatyn. It appears the key phrase nowadays is, 'Back to the oldies..', great records that have sadly been played out ad nauseum. Since we're constantly being reminded that 'big DJ's' have these massive collections, it's becoming pretty obvious that few of them actually know what to do with them once they get behind a pair of 1210's.

Since there are umpteen thousands of soul records spanning the 15 or so years that we draw our music from, why are we STILL, in 2004, being spoonfed the same 500 records like a bunch of helpless babies(sic)? The Top 500 was a GUIDE to Northern soul. Not a Bible. As Q, Record Collector, MOJO, etc. often suggest.

The biggest reason for this is a growing amount of lazy DJ's, pulling nothing but the same records out time after time. Because of this, many of the best recent finds (heart-breakingly Dottie & Millie and The Vanguards) have been slaughtered to death because (and someone pllllease explain this to me) DJ's are starting to play the same record 4-5 times, A NIGHT!

This is nothing more than arrogant egotism. By playing the same record after someone else, DJ's only show themselves to be playing to other DJ's, and not a dancefloor of paying punters. If I wanted to listen to a record over and over, I'd preprogram my CD player and move the rug. So DJ's, please listen to what other people have spun and stop repeating previously played records. It's simply unacceptable and makes you look a fool.

What I find most frustrating is that there are hundreds and hundreds of records out there which I'm never going to get the opportunity to listen to. There are also hundreds of records I know which never get played out, because creatvity doesn't seem to figure in the life of most so called big name Northern DJ's. It's more about the money. And the infernal 'current biggie'.

As much as his head will grow after this, Mr Smith playing Linda Griner, Martha Reeves and The Temps (three amazing underplayed soul records) at the 100 Club, just highlighted how scared other DJ's are to pull out a track that hasn't been played in the last 6 months.

As a paying punter, I'm getting more and more disillusioned with the narrowmindedness and complacency of the people who are supposed to be filling our dancefloors. Since I appear to be one of the youngest dancers on the scene, it's to be hoped it doesn't carry on the way it's going. If there's no hope for me, then you've got no chance of retaining a young regular crowd. Figure the rest for yourselves.

With regards to prevoius comment, there is more than enough room for oldies, but I'm oft reminded that Wigan ran for 8+ years. If this is so, then please play more of the blinding records that Richard et al. gave to us, instead of the same two dozen week in, week out.

If some of you big name DJ's fancy a reality check, I'd very much suggest checking out the allgirl allnighter at the next 100 Club. These DJ's play records for musics sake, and not for the rarity, inevitable prestige or fraternal kudos. Unfortunately, I'm fearing the only thing that it may produce is an inflated price rise on the great VASTLY underplayed records these special collectors are likely to pull out.

For the sake of a healthy soul scene, I beg regular DJ's to dig deep into your collections and spruce up a scene who's music is, in parts, beginning to needlessly wither slightly at the edges.

Thanks if you got this far.

Matty

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Matt, you make a lot of sense, and I agree with most of what you say.

Do you not though, like me, find that you never really know how you are going to react to records until the actual night begins? Some nights I can hear stuff like say Epitome of sound, or Ronnie Mcnair, and think fantastic, timeless classics (which of course they are). Other nights I will be grumpy and wish they would play some different, or even new tunes. But how many new tunes played at a night, before people start drifting off because they dont know any of the records, and just want to dance to something they know, and feel comfortable dancing too? Dancing to a record first time you hear it isnt always that easy? Does the beat change? When does it stop? etc etc.

I agree it is great when a Dj pulls something out of his box that you havent heard played at a do for years. I went to the Half Time Orange in Leicester last year, and had an absolute stormer of a night in the oldies room (It wasnt until midnight I discovered the main room) dancing to New York in the Dark etc. Then in the main room bopping around to Wake up to the Sunshine girl. In both rooms I met lots of people I hadnt met before. All were great. All hed smiles on their faces. All moaned about the odd record. Isnt that all part of a soul night? I remember at the hight of Capitol Soul Club's popularity, people still moaned that they only played records if they were worth X amount of money. Or too much RnB, or too many new records no-onne had heard of. Now I hear people complaining that too many oldies are played.

Unfortunately not all venues can have multiple rooms to split the music up a bit, so many styles will have to be catered for in the one place. And as they always say, you cant please all the people....

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Here, here Matty, spot on comments which i totally agree with, however it's not as easy as it sounds to play different tunes, recently i've been doing a lot of gigs nationwide and i'm getting a little bored with playing the same style or set of tunes and i've got some very good records even though i've been selling a few bigger things or classic oldies in the past couple of years, basically down to if i ain't got them i cant play em' and the huge price tags for otherwise average,classic, standard tunes.

Often infact all the time many DJ's play the safe route, tried and tested if it ain't busted don't fix it ethic which is a shame as there are hundreds of records we could play as you pointed out.

The thing is that the dance floor dictates the music poilcy, play something new, semi known or underplayed and it don't matter if it's the best thing since Gwen Owens you will lose half or more of the dance floor.

Some of the venues are to blame or rather the vast amount of the same type of venues all basically doing the same thing and playing the same stuff and in time people will simply get fed up with it if they a really into the music.

Northern Soul has always been about progression and moving forward but to be honest it's hardly moved on since Stafford has it?

With the exception of places like the 100 Club and a few other venues there is no reall on going upfront in your face newies venue around today, plus there is not the volume of quality new 60's soul records to be found now but thats simply down to time as less and less stuff is there to discover.

We are however at the best possible point we can be in terms of we have some four decades, eras and styles of music to select from so we should be able to select and source the best possible blend of quality music.

The R'n'B thing has totally got out of control and has very little to do with the roots of Northern Soul and as i sported the R'n'B corner a few years ago but have basically turned my back on it as Barbara Dane, Larry Trider, Faye Simmons and Co are totally non Northern in my book and i refuse to be drawn into a sub standard so called music which has been invented and cultivated by people who care very little about Northern Soul infact they don't even like it.

So don't insult me by palming off some uptempo late 50's dross and call it Northern because it ain't!

If you like this type of thing then there are specialist clubs or seperate rooms which cater for it, but not in a Northern room please unless it's the Ray Agee, Hayes Cotton,Nat Hall standard. QUALITY is the issue here always has been, i care very little of the era or style Sam Williams, Dena Barnes, George Blackwell etc. etc. are simply just quality tunes as are thousands of others but we just don't need to hear them all the time week in week out do we? Tunes being played four or five times at a gig often the big money ones is total bollocks as you will get more respect and a buzz out of playing something different whatever it's value.

Communication is all important.. example Mr Rimmer and myself hold many of the same tunes but now make a point of a quick chat before the spots and listen when the other is on to avoid playing the same records as good as The Brooks Brothers, Joann Courcy etc. are we try to avoid double palys of anything.

The oldies V newies debate will continue always...me i just like quality Northern at all costs.

Keep It Real Mark Bicknell

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Matt, spot on mate. It is very difficult at a weekender perhaps, not to duplicate a record played the day previously, or hours & hours ago but at Prestatyn we got fed up of saying, f*** me, not this one again. That is not a dig at Prestatyn because I had a fantastic weekend there, but surely there's no need to hear the same record 5 or 6 times. I guess it comes down to a broad range of DJs who play certain records in their sets at different events all over the country & can't

or won't "pass" on a record just because someone else has played it. It all comes down to "f*** the public, I'll play what I want". I can't think of anything less I would want to do than play something that somebody else has already played. Surely the fun in DJing is to play something different, or am I missing something here?

Dave G www.soulitc.co.uk

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weather it be the 100 club, keele or cleethorpes i'm there from the start. i can remember every track played. there for i'll never play a track that's been spun. the only exception is the vanguards i love it. having grown up with motown for the last x amount of years i rarely play it but at the last 100 club i thought hell lets spin some. the reaction was great so i guess i'll be spinning a few more in may. the temps track one of the greats. i love these djs who arrive an hour before there spot and spin sounds that have already been spun. the only dj who can get away with that is butch-cause we ain't got his records.

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which Temptations and Martha did you play Mick as a matter of interest

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Well said Mick. It's totally unacceptable to turn up at a gig halfway through the night, throw on a couple of records get paid then f*ck off home. But I still don't think that's the reason people play records twice. The only reason you're there all night is cos you don't have anywhere else to go! There were rumours at one time of you sat in Keele Uni cafeteria for weeks.

It's about time that DJ's experimented a little. A lot of them just don't have any leadership. I'm not talking about Nazi dictatorship, but the ability to pull out great records irrespective of their cost or most recent spin (see 100 Club above).

Dan, the tracks were 'I've Gotta Let you Go' and 'I've Gotta Find A Way To Get You Back'. The Linda Griner was the best track I've heard out in ages. Not because it's my fave track ever, but because nobody else has had the creativity and sensibility to play it out on the Northern Scene in the 7 years I've been part of it.

In an attempt not to seem to disappear up the backsides of the 100 Club DJ's, my point is that if I've only been listening to Soul for 7 years, and I've yet to hear amazing tracks like that out, how many more incredible records are cruelly getting neglected?

Mikey, I agree with your comments about hearing newies all night. What I was perhaps failing to get across was the fact that you and I and everybody else know an enormous wealth of unfathomably beautiful songs, yet what percentage of those actually get played out?

It's tragic that so many great records should get under/unplayed....

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my point is that if I've only been listening to Soul for 7 years, and I've yet to hear amazing tracks like that out, how many more incredible records are cruelly getting neglected?

And its a very good point. I've been on and off the scene for more than 20 years now and I know there's loads of stuff I've never heard. For example The flirtations Nothing But a Heartache I only know about because of the KFC ad.

Admittedly a lot of it is my own fault - if I don't go I don't get to hear new stuff, but I usually have 'time off' when I start to get bored of having my own record collection played back to me

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Some great comments have been posted on this topic, and many of them I feel should be taken on board. And because my good lady wife started the topic off, I feel I ought to add my sixpence worth.

Firstly, one observation I've noted recently, is the amount of " oldies " venue's that have sprung up, run by people who don't seem to have been on the scene for five minutes. O.K so someone may ask me to name names, and point fingers, but I ain't going to get into that. Unfortunatly, lack of knowledge, and the readiness to to take a trip back down memory lane, usually means out come the Anthems, the Classics, Northern top 500 what ever we want to call em.

Secondly, D.J's are employed to spin the classics, who once again don't seem to have been on the scene for any time at all, a box full of pressings, the odd current spin ( Futures, Brothers, etc. ), and suddenly your a D.J. Throw in the fact that over the last few years people have joined the scene, who wouldn't know a good Soul record if one punched them in the nose, and what have you got ....your monthly local oldies night. Watery, tepid, Northern Soul.

For me Northern Soul, always will be a Rare soul music scene, A D.J's reputation is earned by playing imaginative, progressive rare soul music. A Promoters Reputation, will only be earned by putting on knowledgeable, seasoned D.j's, with a good feel for the music. And wouldn't it be wonderful if everytime a record got played that wasn't commonly known, punters would rush to the decks to find out what it was, this is the only way people will develop knowledge.

Unfortunatly , Many people who attend venues would rather sit around and moan, rather than get involved.

I do honestly believe, that what will happen eventually, is what happened, in the early eighties. There will be a big exodus away from the scene. This will then leave the scene in the hands of the real Soulies, just like what happened before. And what did we get Stafford, Quality Northern Soul, played by Imaginative D.J's, to progresive minded Soulies. Let's hope anyway.

All I'm asking is for those people who are new to the scene, or have returned after years away, try and find out what's new, rather than listening to Anthems. D.J's love it when people show interest in what they are playing. Take a pencil and paper with you, write down a few tunes that you've heard, ask the D.J's to play them, you'll be getting involved, and it's alot of fun. And don't give the promoters an easy ride, if you feel your not getting your monies worth let em know about it. What we want is quality Northern soul music, don't be affraid to ask for it !.

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This will then leave the scene in the hands of the real Soulies, just like what happened before. And what did we get Stafford, Quality Northern Soul, played by Imaginative D.J's, to progresive minded Soulies. Let's hope anyway

Well said John, couldn't agree more.

If you or anyomne else fed up with watery northern soul, anthems top whatever then get along to the Lifeline all-nighter on 17th April and hear the rarest of the rare. Not just rare for the sake of it but dance floor orientated rare. The last one was a sell out, the only one yet at Sheridans. So if you want tickets got to the ad elsewhere on this site for Andy or MickH's contact details or give me a shout.

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what is the true scene?

Is that you Parton?

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[ Lifeline all-nighter on 17th April and hear the rarest of the rare.

we went to the last Lifeline all-nighter. As you say it was a sell out and was a truly an excellent night. Looking forward to the next one. John May's good lady wife.

Cheers Chalky!

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Some very good points made here. There is always a difficulty in getting the balance right in terms of keeping the dancefloor busy and introducing new or rarely previously played records.

DJ-ing is not as easy as people make out. The promoter wants happy customers, and 'most' want to hear and dance to records they know.

What I find difficult to understand is that most of the Northern crowd have been on the scene since the late 60s/early 70s and in those early heady days were so receptive to new sounds - it was part of the culture of constantly seeking or wanting to hear something new every time we went out and is why so many brilliant soul records were discovered. Why is it now that the majority of very same people seem so reluctant to listen (let alone dance to) something that isn't a tried and tested oldie.

If a DJ does spin a number of newer sounds during a spot (and in just the 1 hour that we tend to get, you struggle to play more than about 20 records) the chances are that the dancefloor 'dies' and the likelihood of a repeat booking becomes more and more remote.

Added to all that is an often constant stream of requests for records that either have been pretty well played out ('can we have Out on the floor please?'), or you know you will find it very difficult to fit in (in the middle of the spot 'Any chance of playing Long after tonight is all over - NOW?').

Very difficult to get things right I'm afraid - and I don't think it is neccessarily DJs being arrogant or lacking a willingness to be flexible.

I really do wish that we the open-mindedness of our youth was still alive and well now. Where has it all gone?

Brian

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I really do wish that we the open-mindedness of our youth was still alive and well now.  Where has it all gone?

Brian

Excellent Brian, Maybe that final comment could be put on the bottom of fly sheets. Top and bottom, that is the crux of the problem with the soul scene. I think it was Dave Rimmer who once wrote that every record at one time was a newie, every record you ever heard, you once heard for the first time. I think some of us have still held on to that thirst for listening to new sounds. Some us of us though seem to have lost it. Also let us not forget that there are two words in Northern Soul, unfortunatly, that little last word is often forgotten.

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I really do wish that we the open-mindedness of our youth was still alive and well now.  Where has it all gone?

Brian

Excellent Brian, Maybe that final comment could be put on the bottom of fly sheets. Top and bottom, that is the crux of the problem with the soul scene. I think it was Dave Rimmer who once wrote that every record at one time was a newie, every record you ever heard, you once heard for the first time. I think some of us have still held on to that thirst for listening to new sounds. Some us of us though seem to have lost it. Also let us not forget that there are two words in Northern Soul, unfortunatly, that little last word is often forgotten.

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Old sounds ? New sounds? As I mentioned earlier, when you come back to the scene although I remember some of the sounds my new are probably your old. I was always a dancer and although my knees are not what they used to be if it moves me I'll dance!

D W Mick

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Very difficult to get things right I'm afraid - and I don't think it is neccessarily DJs being arrogant or lacking a willingness to be flexible.

I really do wish that we the open-mindedness of our youth was still alive and well now. Where has it all gone?

Brian

Well the Lifeline crew have a policy of 60's with some 70's, upfront, lesser known, unknown, forgotten gems, anything but the played out or top 200/300. The night is advertised as such and folk warned not to ask for played out usual stuff in case they are offended by the reply ;-)

The night itself was a roaring success, a sell out and a full dancefloor for most of the night, it was 11.30 Sunday morning when we left ;-) It does show there is a market there for the rare unknown, lesser known and forgotten gems and folk don't have to rely on the same old same.

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Good to hear Chalky. More power to your elbow (or turntable!) mate. Hope it really goes from strength to strength - oh that more venues would have a similar policy.

Brian

PS You didn't by chance play The Snake (LOL)!!

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Good to hear Chalky.  More power to your elbow (or turntable!) mate.  Hope it really goes from strength to strength - oh that more venues would have a similar policy.

Brian

PS You didn't by chance play The Snake (LOL)!!

Cheers Brian, but all credit should go to Andy Dyson and Mick H, i'm just the cyberspace advertising executive :-) Others help out too, Janine for a start hands the flyers out everywhere we go so down to a few the success of the night.

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Evenin' all! An interesting debate re:oldies and newies and in true style, I'm gonna pretty much sit it out and watch comments from both sides. Reason? Simple, both sides are right because personal taste is what influences the music we enjoy.

My only contribution comes as someone who has the chance to DJ fairly regularly at venues up and down, with policies as varied as their locations. My usual opener at the mic is to encourage requests and a commitment (within reason!) to play them. The result is usually a mixed bag ranging from the 'heavily played' stuff, up through the 'lesser played' end of my fairly humble DJ box and I tend to play between 30 - 40% requests in an hour. This tends to give a natural balance to the music I play and the only trick is to blend these carefully and fill out the rest of the hour with sides that complement the requests and, again, attempt to please all comers. True, you can't be all things to all men but it is common courtesy to at least try to make sure that no-one feels 'left out' of the mood of the room.

It ain't always easy and there's always some helpful Soul on hand at the end of your set, ready to call you a wanker for not playing 'The Theme From Police Story' or some similar horror show. You gotta take that on the chin or you're in the wrong game. I firmly believe that the scene will continue to move forward. Maybe not at the pace that some would prefer but, with the progressive DJs being spread so thinly around a still growing (I would say diluting) scene, it does take time for the real winners to come through.

It is also increasingly the case that the newer sounds that do get a rapid and positive dancefloor reaction are tending, more and more, to be much rarer records than the 'newies' of yesteryear. This has two main impacts. Firstly, it takes longer than before for a sound to become widely known. Secondly, the depth of the pockets of the DJs comes into play and there is only a relatively small number of lads who can hope to keep abreast of these tracks (or unearth them in the first place) which leaves the myriad of forgotten sounds and unknown 45's that are (reasonably) easy to come by to work with. All that's needed then is DJs who are prepared to risk 6 or 9 minutes of their set to mix them in and crowds who are prepared to with them. Slip em in carefully enough and it can work.

As a final comment, great to see the 2 Motown tracks that Mick referred to. Both brilliant dance records and both very popular at the town hall in Bury so at least I'm getting two records right!! Just as an aside, the Tempts version of 'Hey Girl' on the same album is stunning....give it a listen if you have it to hand.

Neil.

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Hard one to call this ,but a couple of points to ponder.

Of the recent returnees, how many are Soul Music lovers, that is were into soul, usually the more commercial stuff, Stax Atlantic Motown etc before they ever entered a Real Soul Club and how many are Wigan Casino Fans?

Cast your mind back to the old days and the first club you went to.

For me it started in 1972 at the Pendulum in Manchester. I thought I knew what soul was, but stuff me this music blew me socks off.Back then ,as has been said before, newies were all we wanted,whenever a record had been overplayed, re released pressed or whatever it was dropped for something new.

BUT and it is a big but, back in the day all these clubs The Torch, The Mecca,

Pendulum, Blue Room and later Wigan were all weekly events inside of a month a new sound could have been heard 5 or 6 times making it that much easier to become 'known'.

Nowadays most nights are monthly, we're getting older,we've got other commitments and dont get out as often ,so you might hear something new twice in 3 months so sounds are that much harder to break.

So when someone plays something you don't know give it a chance, who knows 25 years down the line it might be your favourite oldie,and any way its odds on

you'll like the next one or the one after.

As the MIGHTY George Clinton said

'Free your mind and your ass will follow '

Tony

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As somebody who has been away from the scene for a long time, if the tracks played last night on asadan on R2 are representative of rare soul in the 21st century, I'll live on my memories.

KTF

Paul

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