Tuesday, 25 February 2014


Label: GRAPEVINE; Format: 7'; Cat.: GRP 110; Year: 1978; Country: UK

Looking today at a couple of Northern Soul released issued on Richard Searling's Grapevine label - distributed via RCA here in the UK.  One you'll know and one you may not (depending how much a talcum spin devotee you are!).
The first up is the more obscure of the two - 1978's offering from The Happy Cats.  The A Side gives you their take on the Lee Hazelwood penned "These Boots Are Made For Walkin' ".  First issued on Omack it's one of those instrumental Northern tracks that were popular in the latter half of the 70's - especially at Wigan Casino. And as in a lot of these things it's a question of whether you're a fan of the happy-clappy type/instrumental type Northern tunes - personally I'm not generally but I do like this one. Mainly in part due it being a Lee Hazelwood song who I'm a fan of, and that it's got a bit of Mod/Ramsey Lewis vibe to it.  Taste has a lot to do with I suppose.
The flip side is the rather good "Destroy That Boy" and unreleased until it's appearance here on Grapevine.  A good uptempo track that nods in the direction of Ray Charles and Margie Hendrix - especially on that intro and horn riff that almost sounds like The Genius' 'Don't Set Me Free'.  Valuewise  - this seems to worth around the £8 mark.  And thanks also to Soul Forum post on the Soul Source website for some the info here.

Artist: JUDY STREET; Title: WHAT; Label: GRAPEVINE; Format: 7"; Cat. No.: GRP 106;
Year: 1977; Country: UK

Next up is a Northern track that you should know!  Judy Street's classic "What".  Recorded and originally released in the State in 1968, the song's written and produced by H.B. Barnum.  Again it's one of the tunes that found favour at Wigan Casino - and it's also the only Northern track I know that's got a cello solo on it!  First came across the song via the Soft Cell hit version of the early 80's which then put me on to this one - and finally tracking down a copy at a stall at the first All-Nighter I went to at Stoke Town Hall.

The flip side is a cover of Melinda Marx's "You Turn Me On" - which has intended as the A Side - but getting flipped in favour of 'What' when it arrived in the UK.  Tunewise it's the slower tempo of the two sides on offer - okayish but nowhere in the same league as the A Side.
As is in a lot of these cases Judy Street was unaware of the popularity of "What" until around 2005 - as she'd never toured in the UK. The song's been ranked as being the 23rd most popular Northern Soul tune out of the 500 listed in a poll.  Thanks on this occasion to Judy Street's Wikipedia page for some of the info used here.

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