The swinging 60s usually conjures up images of fab white beat groups in paisley shirts and hipsters striking a suitably kookie pose down Carnaby Street for the tourists. Yet, thinking back to my younger discotheque days, 1966 onwards, I can't for the life of me remember hearing a Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Who or Small Faces record being played in any of the clubs I went to. I was far from being hip and I loved those pop records on Radio London, but the club sound was Motown/Stax/ Atlantic.
Admittedly the group at the Palais would have to play the latest hits, but that was a time to eye up the girls or sink a drink or two. By the time the DJ was back on it was Booker T, Wilson Pickett or the Drifters.
Even the local bands had gone completely soul by 1967 and Knock On Wood was in absolutely every group's repertoire. In fact, my overplayed soul backlash began when a particularly reactionary mod friend of mine threatened to hit one of the Blossom Toes, an arty progressive outfit, for not playing that, by now dreaded, number.
The Atlantic and Stax labels, in particular, were revered by DJs and dancers and interestingly it was those ballsy southern-based sounds that the boys would dance to, whereas the girls went for the prettier Motown songs.
Prime examples of mid 60s machismo are Clarence Carter's Looking For A Fox, Jimmy Hughes' It Ain't What You Got and Solomon Burke's Keep Lookin'. For a 16 year old, middle-class English boy these more than made up for the facts of life my dad was too embarrassed to tell me about.
Even the instrumentals called the adolescents onto the dance-floor for their version of a rite of passage initiation ceremony. If your feet and body could handle Booker T's Slim Jenkins' Place and the Goodtimers' Chain Of Fools you were well on your way to manhood. The call of King Curtis' tenor sax was powerful enough to overpower even grammar school shyness.
There's little point in analysing this CD in any depth. If you only know the brilliance of some of these tracks, be assured the others are equally vital. To make a CD of this genre from the Atlantic, Atco and blue Stax labels is almost cheating and is, of course, a great honour to be able to pick one's own individual choices.
Why wouldn't you buy it?
By Harboro Horace