Probably for the first time ever, I woke up excited to get out of bed on a Saturday because I couldn’t wait to go on the search for some vinyl gems.
As you can probably tell by the above image, I wasn’t disappointed in my quest around Cardiff’s best record stores and charity shops. And the record collecting didn’t stop there as I made further purchases on discogs.com when I got home!
The record purchase that excited me most was Northern Soul classic, If I Could Only Be Sure, by Nolan Porter. It’s one I’ve known for years and it’s synonymous with the scene.
I could probably buy these songs for 99p on iTunes but having these 7-inch singles and having to sit down in a quiet room to listen to them really makes you appreciate them and give them the attention they deserve.
If I Could Only Be Sure (A-side – Keep On Keeping On) – Porter said he wrote the opening guitar riff – probably the highest of several high points on the record – with Gabriel Mekler, an Israeli producer who also worked with Janis Joplin. ‘Gabriel was a really talented person,’ Porter told the45sclub.com.
The mix of Porter’s pleading voice and the unique guitar work is particularly pleasing to a rock and roll fan. When we think of soul music, we probably think of the brilliant singers first, but, the instrumentals involved really make these songs enduring classics.
The A-side, Keep On Keeping On, is a grower. I didn’t take to it straight away and it is partially hidden by the shadow of the great track opposite. The guitar riff reminds me of the intro to Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to hear the Stones in soul songs as the rockers were heavily influenced by black music, especially Muddy Waters.
If I were to describe the A-side with one word, I’d say ‘funky’. It’s a nice change of pace to soul I usually listen to.
Marvin Gaye – Never Let You Go (B-side – Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide) – Now to a couple of tunes from my favourite singer; the late, great Mr Marvin Gaye.
Once again, this is a re-issue, but that didn’t stop my heart leaping out of my chest like a Disney character when I saw it.
I’m in the very early stages of record collecting and I’m not approaching it with any particular finesse or consideration. I have a good idea what I like and the top five records I want most of all and this will guide me.
I know I love Marvin Gaye and despite it being a re-issue, the record was there in front of me so I didn’t think twice about buying it. And of course, the record is in perfect condition so that’s a bonus. I’d love to have all 50-year-old original records but my main priority, especially at this early stage, is to start building a collection of great music I can enjoy listening to. And I feel like I’ve already gone a bit OTT where spending is concerned.
Never Let You Go was a track on a Marvin Gaye ‘best of’ CD my Mum bought me circa 2002 and I listened to that CD in bed night after night, thinking about the girl I liked at school who seemed to be more interested in bad boys, which I was not.
It’s an uptempo number that makes you want to dance – it doesn’t exactly lull you to sleep…
There are tracks by the legend that are more quintessentially ‘Northern’ (although he’s seen as a predominantly Motown star) but who’s to say what defines Northern Soul?
The B-side is Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide which has more obvious gospel influences, not least the angelic-sounding backing singers and the organ playing.
I’d listen to any song by Marvin but this one’s a little slow-paced for me. Something to listen to on a Sunday afternoon.
Here’s an article with some background information to Never Let You Go https://motownjunkies.co.uk/2009/11/27/78/.
The Dells – It’s All Up To You (AA-side Wear It On Our Face) – This is a Record Store Day re-release from way back in 2015 which was hanging around in the sale section of Head Records in Cardiff, for £8 (reduced from £13). The cheapest at the moment on Discogs is £9.99 before shipping so I probably saved a few pounds – winner.
That wasn’t the only good thing to come out of this buy though and it shows why it’s worth making speculative purchases. I didn’t know who The Dells were (I know, I know) but they sounded like they could be a soul group. The song, It’s All Up To You, had a soul ring to it too. So when I got home and played it, I was delighted to discover I knew the A-side very well.
And, like Nolan Porter’s If I Could Only Be Sure, It’s All Up To You has that Northern Soul sound. It evokes images of dark dancehalls, sparse lighting coming through beads of sweat, a dancer spinning, a wall of sound, hedonism.
What was even better than this discovery was that the AA side is better. In fact, Wear It On Your Face was the track that really got me clicking my fingers. It’s such a happy record, as you’d expect really.
Other records bought:
Supremes – Who’s Loving You, Buttered Popcorn (Record Store Day 2016)
Dee Edwards – I Can Deal (With That), I Can Deal (With That) plus strings (Record Store Day 2016, one of 750) – Additional information at Soul Brother