Anyone who read my last post will probably have realised I was having a playful dig at the world of OVO, but given that once again the same old arguments and insults are being tossed about, I’ll offer some more serious observations, and maybe everyone could just put this tedious debate to bed once and for all, having agreed to accept that we are never all going to agree on everything, but there’s room for different approaches in life.
1/ Supporters of OVO often bemoan that others deride them. I would suggest that that is simply an understandable reaction to non-OVO folk being accused of “watering down the scene”; having “no place behind the decks”; having “not paid there dues”, etc, etc. If you insult someone, they will insult you back.
2/ There is a constant conflation of “boots/carvers” with “licensed reissues”. That needs to stop. They are not the same at all. Most people don’t like bootlegs. I don’t want a fake 45 anymore than I want a fake Rolex. Bootlegging is a parasitic industry. Moreover, licensing means that artists might actually get some money for their work. (Let’s not get into the “they’re mostly dead anyway”, debate. It’s a principle thing)
Licensed reissues also provide a great opportunity for lots of people to get their hands on some brilliant music at affordable prices; to a degree, they also undermine bootleggers, because every licensed reissue that becomes available is one less record it’s worth bootlegging.
3/ There’s an often propagated myth that the scene is full of Del-boys with fists full of boots putting on Northern nights for personal gain. Highly unlikely! Anyone who has been involved in promoting old soul nights will no that there is no gravy train; it involves hell of a lot of time and effort to do it well; that the pay-off is a room full of happy smiling dancers, not a suitcase full of cash. If I work out the hourly rate I make for organising soul nights, it is, without doubt, the worst paid job I’ve ever had by a really really big margin. No one does this unless they genuinely love the music.
4/ There is nothing wrong with being an OVO enthusiast. It’s partly that collecting thing that drives thousands of other hobbyists. Even as someone who buys a few licensed reissues, I’d always rather find an original record, and that’s the fun of crate digging. It still gives me a thrill after many years to find something unexpected in a box in a junk shop. Doens’t happen often, mind! There’s also room for OVO events because for some on the scene, that is important, both for DJs and dancers. All power to you, I say… as long as it stops short of slagging off anyone who isn’t bothered about OVO. After years of doing a variety of events, albeit mainly soul, I would argue that the most important job, as a DJ, is to fill the floor with happy dancers. On a good night, if you get it right, you can mix it up with well-known fare and some lesser-known gems, and the floor just keeps moving. As a DJ who plays originals and reissues, I get to drop Frank Wilson every now and then. So “no one cool listens to Frank Wilson”, I hear some of you chant. Tell that to the packed dance floor and see what they make of you. Believe it or not, back in the real world, that tune continues to go down a storm. Any real DJ will tell you, most people still only dance to what they know, and the real skill is to get them dancing to what they don’t know.
5/ My final observation is that all the soul nights I’ve been involved in share one characteristic: the tangible atmosphere of love and joy that permeates the venue as some of the greatest music ever committed to vinyl, both original and reissued, blasts across the floor. It’s all about love my friends, and if you can’t understand that, you don’t understand soul music. And when it comes to promoting nights and DJing, as long as it does what is says on the tin, no one has any business bitching and complaining.