1961: But will my heart be broken?
1962: chugga chugga motion like a railroad train
1963: Shooby-dooby-dooby-dooby doo wah bah
1963: Da Doo Ron Ron
1964: Woh oh oh – the things he likes to doooooo
➢ At Facebook, the legendary UK soul deejay Robbie Vincent writes: “ We have lost a real Soul Brother in Bobby Womack, one of the greatest. We go back a long time and he used to call me Old School Robbie. Respect to an amazing and talented musician and a real gentleman. At this time I wish I was on air to pay tribute… Delighted to say you can hear again my last interview with Bobby Womack at Mixcloud. Thanks to Mike Vitti for his help in making it possible for you to share words and music from our Soul Brother. He was in fine form too. ”
➢ When Robbie met Bobby… Robbie Vincent’s Essential Rhythms interview with the legendary Bobby Womack on Jazz FM in January 2013, in three parts – James Brown, hiding from the tax man, pretending to be blind, Sam Cooke, Wilson Picket, great music, this thing has got the lot.
➢ Soul legend Bobby Womack dead at 70 – Rolling Stone obituary: “ Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. ‘My very first thought was — I wish I could call Sam Cooke and share this moment with him,’ Womack said. ‘This is just about as exciting to me as being able to see Barack Obama become the first black President of the United States of America. ”
❚ NOVEMBER 9 SEES maverick deejay Chris Hill front the fourth Official Gold Mine Reunion back this year on Canvey Island at The Monico, a stone’s throw away from the site of the nightspot renowned as the birthplace of British jazz-funk.
Other members enlisted from the South-East’s Funk Mafia who ruled at Caister weekenders and the big soul all-dayers will be Jeff Young and Snowboy and ace record-shopkeeper for the rare groove scene, Gary Dennis. The reunion will be echoing to sounds from Donnie Hathaway to Chick Corea, from BT Express to Mastermind. But first, a taste of the Gold Mine’s tenth year as I reported it 31 years ago…
[First published in The Face, August 1982]
❏ SOME SAY THE whole of today’s style scene has its roots here… The Gold Mine, Canvey Island, has passed into countless legends for the trends it has set and on August 14 manager Stan Barrett pulls a champagne cork to celebrate his club’s tenth birthday.
Mind you, feet have pounded its original sprung maple dancefloor since 1949. Southend and the towns of the Essex style triangle have reared cults since the word was invented, so when in 1972 the Gold Mine began playing what rivals then called “silly music” – My Guy and all those soul sounds – the local hipsters took their cue. It was that wild man among deejays, Chris Hill, who, as the only one south of Lancashire playing soul, put Canvey Island on the map and ushered in the soulful new Age of the Dance.
Stan Barrett says: “Chris played Singin’ In The Rain one Saturday and of course even kids who couldn’t remember the original knew the words to it. Everyone started being Gene Kelly on the dancefloor, dressing as Gls and Betty Grable. So he played Moonlight Serenade then the Andrews Sisters’ Boogey Woogey – that’s when they all started to jive and to dress up.”
The Sun, the tabloid daily paper which has a remarkably consistent record for picking up trends first, featured the Gold Mine. “Coaches came from Newcastle, Wales, everywhere,” Barrett remembers. The rest is undisputed history for the influence of Essex stylists on emergent London nightlife scene has been visible from the 60s Mod scene to Chaguaramas and the Vortex to the Blitz and beyond.
The key to the Gold Mine’s success? Impossible selectivity at the door, which may sound over familiar today. Barrett says: “Nobody too old. And only people into style which means your own style, not Gary Numan’s. It costs you at first but look how it pays off in the end. People have never come to the Gold Mine for a good drink up, always the music and the scene.”
Right now in summer ’82, Essex is a musical ball of confusion with the electronic camp of Depeche Mode and Talk Talk holding sway. Drinking with Talk Talk drummer Lee Harris at the Gold Mine the other night was clubrunner about Southend, Steven Brown, who sports a £100 PW Forte Sixties suit and reckons that psychedelia is still big there, heaven help us. He has also done time with a non-psychedelic local band of jokers called Doodle Sax: “It’s had about 35 people in it at various times but we’re not very serious.” One of them, synthesiser doodler Andy Norton, says the vibes are already about for much heavier rhythms. “Music has to turn much more macho.”
And if there are any visual indicators at the Gold Mine today, they are less fancy, more free. A regular called Andy “from Stanford No Hope” says: “Make up is so out of date, it’s like watching old crows trying to pull. The Gold Mine is much better now that we don’t get all the arty students down.”
❏ “Banging best night in ages,” reported Essex Funker Trizzles Green Trees the morning after when she posted this video of the Gold Mine Reunion’s dancefloor heaving to Brass Construction’s 1975 classic Movin’. [Click the pic to run the vid at Facebook.] She added: “We opened the door to the main room and you were just knocked away instantly by the vibe and the atmosphere… everyone was smiling and dancing whether you knew them or not.”
One of the hosts deejay Snowboy Mark called it “a road-block event” at The Monico, Canvey Island. “There were so many old faces there, going way back to the original pre-79 days… Andrea Wingrove-Dunn, Laurence Dunn, Steve Brown, Gary Turner, and pre-76 Gold Miner Molly Brown (she was under age of course!) who loved it more than anyone and stayed right to the end dancing, singing her head off and causing a stir in her immaculate 40s clothing.
“I loved playing Shifting Gears, Inside America, Mary Hartman et al – to me, out and out Gold Mine records for those that were there in the early years.”
❏ Chris Hill interviewed during a live TV visit to the Gold Mine, Canvey Island, broadcast in 1983 on Channel 4’s weekly pop show The Tube. The club closed in 1989.
❏ Northern Soul fans will recall that their legendary venue the Wigan Casino launched its first soul all-nighter in September 1973 (a year after the Gold Mine).
❏ iPAD, TABLET & MOBILE USERS PLEASE NOTE — You may see only a tiny selection of items from this wide-ranging website about the 1980s, not chosen by the author. To access fuller background features and site index either click on “Standard view” or visit Shapersofthe80s.com on a desktop computer. ➢ Click here to visit a different random item every time you click
❚ THE FIRST OFFICIAL VIDEO from the north London band Lux marks an impressive leap forward in musical confidence since their live debut in April. Though they call themselves an indie band, they are not guitar-led. Three nimble but self-effacing instrumentalists play second fiddle to the willowy male vocalist whose ethereal yearning defines a Lux tune and shapes the band’s signature. The languorous melodies are driven by Jesse Burgess, who would be gazing at his shoes if he’d come from anywhere north of the M25.
His wayward, mildly shouty delivery hints at Marc Almond, and nods towards Morrissey’s wistful introspection as the vowels stretch and float o-o-o-o’er vales and hills. It feels as if the tunes are improvised by the singer jumping aboard a lyric and treating it like an ethereal surfboard, half steering, half hoping for some turbulence his voice can mould into a theme…
Yet where the young Morrissey’s voice was informed by the pain of damaged romancing, Jesse’s is lighter, tentative and entirely innocent, that of the romantic virgin who has yet to distinguish tactics from emotions. Lux’s singer is required to withdraw into his solitude, like a latterday Greta Garbo, the ice-maiden of 1930s Hollywood movies who famously declared “I just want to be let alone”.
He does not sing of the usual teen dreams that guarantee chart hits. Lux’s two best songs do not embrace affairs of the heart. The studiously abstract lyrics to their first single Too Late to Fight — slated for an EP release soon — fret over mistakes and hesitations within unspecified friendships. “There’s no escape, I need some solitude,” Jesse sings. Nothing so poetic as Morrissey’s “running rings round a fountain”, Lux lines are open to as many interpretations as people in the room. Another neatly self-aware song titled Too 17 recognises how speedily we leave one phase of teendom while knowing we face a couple more years of shedding tears before life falls into place.
So it may seem shrewd that the video for Too Late to Fight gives this song a playful visual treatment to assure teen audiences that the soulmates in the band are actually an unstuffy bunch of regular lads. Its production does, however, come from the school of Blue Peter DIY and sends out mixed messages. When the four-piece are making cool sounds onstage or in a studio, they are as focused as any of the mentors their rhythm guitarist and songwriter Fin Kemp says he admires: Blur, Libertines, Arctics. The singer Jesse has described Lux as “indie with a bit of bluesy American soul.” Like the White Stripes? “Yep. Well, not as cool as them.”
In fact, off-stage, not cool at all. The video intermittently cuts to the lads larking around in the carefree suburban streets and parks of London NW6. They gurn to the camera like the hammiest kind of pop group invented with the Monkees in the Swinging 60s. TV fans of Jesse Burgess, whose second career is modelling, have discovered his penchant for flashing his bare bum in E4’s reality series Dirty Sexy Things — and this video predictably obliges.
Such horseplay points them onwards into the valley of pop. This video makes no attempt to reflect the songwords or the often affecting plaintiveness of the vocals. Yet the closing sequence does declare some indie intent. We find the four musicians engaged in giving a tight live performance and by now we can appreciate their sound as intriguing and memorable. Lux music has more personality than the individuals seen making it — which is curiously reassuring.
Lux’s own website says: “Their sound has been described as indie punk soul.” Three admirable goals.