Mirwood’s style was born with ‘The Duck’, but was epitomised for the UK’s uptempo soul fanatics by the pulverising tempos and shimmering sounds of ‘Do The Temptation Walk’ and ‘The Shotgun And The Duck’. ‘Do The Temptation Walk’ was the second song to be bootlegged for the burgeoning Old Soul scene way back in 1970 before the term Northern had been coined.
Though Mirwood undoubtedly aped Detroit’s Motown machine and Chicago’s slick soul sounds, the small indie label came up with its own recognisable brand. The instrumentation was always spot on, never over-embellished, but it was those upfront, uptight, girly vocals that proved to be the Mirwood watermark. In Sherlie Matthews the company had not only a great songwriter and singer but the best and most creative backing vocals arranger in the country.
Those distinctive feminine interjections on the hit ‘The Duck’ must have been noted and by the time of the LP’s recording and the next single ‘Your P-E-R-S-O-N-A-L-I-T-Y’, (interestingly not featured here) the girls’ vocals were even more to the fore. On ‘The Duck Pt 2’ and ‘Do The Temptation Walk’, Jackie and the girls are in call and response mode.
On this LP, a nod was given to Berry Gordy’s inspiration with the inclusion of ‘Dancing In The Street’ and ‘Do You Love Me’, but the subsequent Mirwood application gave those old songs (in pop terms) a new twist, that must have been both vibrant and exciting at the time. Like most US albums cashing in on a hit, it’s instinctive stuff and funnily enough it is tracks such as ‘Hully Gully’ and ‘The Bounce’, probably used to give Fred Smith some songwriting royalties, that embraced the new groove as well as any.
Coming out in 1965, I was a little too young and poor to carry this icon around at school, advertising my hipness. I’m sure a few of the old modsters will stick their hands up to that. Like Major Lance on his Okeh photos, Jackie looks the business; a hip young black guy with neat cropped hair and a sharply cut cardi to show those dance moves in. This disc will take your mind back to those halcyon days; even if your body can’t quite make the trip.
By Ady Croasdell