The wheels on the bus of Northern Soul have kept on truckin’ across six decades now and they don’t appear to be showing any signs of stopping. There have been times across these decades that the scene was slowing down, but the foot soldiers kept on believing and the scene kept on evolving whilst circumnavigating venue closures. Northern Soul majored on disaster management. Stuart Cosgrove’s personal history of Northern Soul in ‘Young Soul Rebels’ marries major social events of the times with a human touch of personalities that he’s befriended since being introduced to soul music at his local youth club in the late 1960s.
Stuart covers the solid pillars of Northern Soul with chapters on the Twisted Wheel, Torch, Casino, Cleethorpes and the Blackpool Mecca with his own warm spin on events of those times. The book doesn’t stop in 1982 with the closure of the Casino like most books on Northern Soul, it offers an insight into the nights that carried the torch forward such as Morecambe, Stafford, Allenton, Rotherham and the 100 club.
No stone is left unturned as Stuart rifles his way through an attempted buggery, amphetamines, James Anderton’s puritanical reign on the Rainy City, the Yorkshire Ripper, Jimmy Saville, the death of the mining industry, bootleggers, the internal squabbles, the clouds of London and the constant search for discovering fresh analogue storage mediums. Finding fresh vinyl has been instrumental in keeping the scene moving with the constant search for an ultimate trophy piece, one that brings braggers rights. Stuart has found some right gems on his travels. One gem that Stuart gave centre stage to was the prodigious Sam Dees with an airing on Channel 4 in 1992. Stuart writes about Sam receiving “a spontaneous standing ovation after his performance.” His performance at a Fleetwood Up North weekender In 1989 left many in the audience in tears. I was lucky enough to have witnessed that initial special performance. I may have shed a tear myself.
The book closes off with Stuart’s take on the current Northern scene which has adapted to the new technologies such as You Tube, Mixcloud, forums and social media sites. A scene that is grounded in the past has found another generation to keep the faith, which is great to see. It’s even got me off my backside and attending soul nights again.
A sign of a good back is one that I read quickly because I can’t put it down. This is one of those books.
Stuart Cosgrove will be playing records featured in the book and signing books at Love Vinyl, 5 Pearson St, London e2 8JD on Wednesday 22 June between 6-8pm