1983 was a turning point for me in a lot of ways. Where music was concerned it was the moment where I stopped simply discovering music from it being played to me via the radio or TV and went out and found it. It was the year I became a soul fan.
Several things came together to make that happen. I started to become interested in what influenced the bands I liked. Before then the records they made seemed to be in a vacuum. They came fully formed and I didn’t really care who the bands had listened to to come up with their music. It was all new.
But in 1982-83 I started to realise that these bands didn’t exist in a bubble of their own, they were part of a bigger thing. Weller would talk about Motown and The Clash and The Who. Joboxers took over presenting a radio show and talked about Northern Soul, Madness did something similar and talked about Costello. Costello would talk about Burt Bacharach. And then when you would work your way backwards through those people you would then find that, hey wait a minute that sounds familiar and work forwards again through other bands. So, while Weller loved Motown, so obviously did the Human League. Joboxers loved Northern Soul and so did Soft Cell.
And so it began.
A couple of years ago my mum was retiring, moving out of London and going back to her hometown in Wales. When she packed up I gave her a hand and found a couple of suitcases in cupboards filled with my own stuff, leftovers from my teens that I’d never taken with me when I left home. There were old comics and pin-ups, copies of Smash Hits and old school jotters. Some of those were filled with lists of songs that I would hear on the radio and make note of so I could get them later. One in particular was kept by the radio specially for a show that I used to listen to on Capital Radio, Pete Young’s Soul Cellar. In the winter of 1983 that became a huge favourite of mine as I claimed that particular style and sound for my own.
Flicking through that one I realised that I actually owned most of the tunes listed these days. But back then though you couldn’t get some of the sounds for love or money. Well you could, but you had to be prepared to spend loads. Today’s sounds are a selection of that list. Listening to them now I can remember that feeling in the pit of my stomach, that excitement at hearing them, but also that desire to own them myself.
Booker T & The MGs – Slim Jenkins’ Place
The Soul Sisters – I Can’t Stand It
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – If You Can Want