Saturday night soul

Apr 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: Pop thinking

Sitting in Eddie Rocket’s Diner in Limerick last night, there was an irresistible urge to use up the collective supply of 20 cent coins in the juke box.  It was Candi Staton’s  ‘Young hearts run free’ that caught the eye, it predated the memories of everyone in the restaurant, except me.  The  single I really would have liked to have been able to play was ‘Disco stomp’ by Hamilton Bohannon.

Hamilton Bohannon was an important figure in my social education.  At the age of 14 I had caught on early that girls had subtly different tastes from boys. While the male of the species might have been into Status Quo and Queen, most females preferred something softer. They liked love songs and ballads and, in 1975, they liked disco music. When you are very plain and boring, the best way to ingratiate yourself with young ladies was to say you liked the same stuff as they liked.

Here was where Hamilton Bohannon and George McCrae and Minnie Riperton and the Three Degrees and Barry White, and others too numerous to mention, came in. Being able to talk about the songs meant buying the 7″ singles so as to know the words and to be able to say you had the record. While other guys were buying tracks by rock bands, I was looking for Tamla Motown. In 1976, when it appeared in the charts, I bought ‘Young hearts run free’.

By 1979 the ploy no longer worked, one girl I knew was less than impressed by my being able to recall Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I will survive’. I moved on to The Jam and The Clash and stuff that was considered more serious (and which had strongly political content, to chime with being a student at the LSE). However, for a while, the strategy worked!

For years the records remained hidden away in an attic box.  How could someone who had seen AC/DC live admit to having a secret copy of the Three Degrees?

When I reached the age of 40, I decided it didn’t matter anymore what people thought, and bought lots more Motown CDs. When talking to a woman who had been thirteen when I had last seen her thirty years previously, she said “Do you know what I remembered about you? How you loved all of those soul tracks”.

Maybe I did, Candi Staton and Hamilton Bohannon included (though there is now a copy of every one of Bruce Springsteen’s albums lying close at hand, one must be inclusive!)

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  1. All those names stir memories of the village Discos I went to at Othery village hall Ian…….My musical tastes cover stuff from Hendrix,Motorhead, to Motown, Christie Moore, Prodigy, Mumford and Sons and……Abba!!!!!…..get to 50 and confess all..!!!!!

  2. I never saw Motorhead – but I did go to see Girlschool one time (and couldn’t hear properly for three days afterwards!). I’ve now reached the point where the time of day determines the music – I could even listen to Bacharach and David if it was after midnight.

  3. At what stage did Peter Starstead appear and who was impressed by “Where do you go to my lovely”. On Satelite TV the other evening there was a review programme of Top of the Pops concentrating 1964 to 1975. It then did a complete programme from 1976. I just saw the first bit and left the boys to watch the rest, I was thinking of you when I was watching it. Terry and I had a Ruby day yesterday – not Ruby Murray!!!!

  4. Sarstedt came from listening to Jimmy Saville’s ‘Old Record Club’ on a Sunday lunchtime! There was a particularly dark time when people like Jimmy Saville kept me going.

  5. I was astonished to discover that my 18-year-old son, who retired from a heavy metal band two years ago, is a huge Motown fan. How much cooler is he than his father?

  6. Some of the late 60s/early 70s’ Motown carried a strong civil rights agenda – Tom Clay’s mix of ‘What the world needs now’ and ‘Abraham, Martin and John’ comes to mind. Some of it is just plain fun!

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