In June 2012 I had just had my 60th birthday. Perhaps it was a time of reflection or a time for a change. Amongst my eclectic music collection I had a reasonable amount of soul music from the sixties, some of which were Northern Soul and some which predated the movement. I had taken time to try and buy my favourite vinyl tracks on CD whenever possible and had made some steps into the world of downloading.
But then something changed – I joined Twitter.
Before I joined did I didn’t understand how Twitter worked. I knew from the media that Stephen Fry was someone who used it, but that was about it. When a couple of my friends told me that they could contact, be contacted by and keep up to date with their friends and people who they thought would never meet in life, I decided to give a go.
So the famous 4266 (as in 4-2 sixty six) tag I have used in a variety of ways was again dusted off and put to good use. In my Twitter biog I described myself as a “mod” and “northern soul nut”. Little did I know that this would trigger the site into suggesting other users who I should follow.
One of the earliest suggestions was uk, who had just started out, championing everything mod from Bradley Wiggins and Paul Weller to new mod bands, scooters, fashion and music. At the time I suggested he soon would be “Riding up in front of a thousand faces” (If you don’t get it listen to the album).
One day @Quadrophenia_uk retweeted a message about a radio programme – the Northern Soul Show.
It was from there that I started to follow the Northern Soul Show on Twitter. Soon after I was tuned into Affinity Radio between 6 and 8pm on a Sunday listening to Stuart Blackburn play 2 hours of the music from my youth. Some of which I knew, but, the majority, I did not. It was like turning the clock back to a time when I enjoyed the hunt for the sounds that I had either heard or read about in Blues and Soul Magazine. My love of soul music had been reignited.
I started out on a download quest to own the sounds I was listening to. I know that vinyl is the vogue but my old collection is virtually (no pun intended) unplayable because of white noise, hisses, pops and scratches caused by years of misuse and cheap record players.
At Christmas things took another step forward when I received a book called, The Story of Northern Soul by Dave Nowell as a present. The stories of DJ’s trawling their way through warehouses full of unsold singles in the USA to turn forgotten and hidden gems at 10 cents a go into Northern classics put my weekly trips in the early 70’s to Selecta Disc in Nottingham and Violet Mays in Sheffield into perspective. Whilst I was pleasantly surprised to see many of my favourites get a mention in the book, the lists of sounds it contains that are the favourites of the great and the good also gave me food for thought, and the search was widened (as you can imagine with little success).
And so to 2013: Time moves on. Stuart Blackburn has made Northern Soul even more accessible on the internet with the launch of Remarkable Radio playing a mix of Motown and Northern Soul 24/7. His Sunday night following has developed a strong Twitter community. Friendships made during the show over the internet are enduring (well they would be we are Northern Soul fans) and new friends are frequently welcomed into the fold.
@Quadrophenia_uk is now “Riding up in Front of 10,000 Faces” and I still am learning more about the music that was the soundtrack to my youth. Long may it continue. #keepthefaith