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Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 2:35 pm
by Alan Balfour
Garth Cartwright wrote:I'm sure you are right Pete. My research did suggest that those groups went to listen to Guy cos he got hold of often very obscure R&B tunes - apparently he had someone in Louisiana who would send him packs of 45s. So often he had the only copy of a new swamp pop or Muscle Shoals etc in the UK. So, yeah, they were clued into the music before they entered the clubs but he turned them on to stuff they might otherwise have not have heard.
In the main those US 45s were the bedrock for Guy's enterprise - the Sue label.

Here's someone who seems to be putting his Sue collection on the net.

http://suerecordsuk.wordpress.com/the-singles/

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:13 pm
by Hugh Weldon
Pete:
That's right on Stevens and Macinnes, Garth, but I would question one thing: the groups you mention, the Beatles/Stones era, certainly knew what was to become Mod music before they'd ever been to The Scene. A cursory look through their first material shows that. Lennon got his records, in 58/60, from the Liverpool guys who worked the Cunard Liners and these included those sounds that triggered Motown and Stax.


Going back to Andy's point up north there was no need for a mod scene because there was a bigger scene already established in Merseybeat with around 300 groups playing regularly, not the harder R&B associated with the 'Scene' (with the exception of The Roadrunners) but musically a more poppier thing appealing to a wider audience rather than cognoscenti though MacInnes influence on Ray Gosling is interesting with his clubs in Leicester and Nottingham and eye for style - that, and Roger Eagle's Twisted Wheel in Manchester actually booking all those black American acts.

Lesser known obscure R&B being imported by merchant seamen or 'Cunard yanks' is a bit of a myth though. Spencer Leigh told me years ago that most of the US records covered in the Merseybeat era were released in this country - interminable versions of 'What I'd Say' and 'Some Other Guy', and when he interviewed Chris Curtis of the The Searchers he got the following response:

"Whenever we needed new material I would get hold of records by the Coasters and the Clovers and we'd Blanco them up. We were white boys's voices singing black man's soul and it worked.'Sweets for my Sweet' of course and 'Goodbye My Love' which is an even better example.. The story about the Cunard Yanks bringing the records in is a load of bollocks. How would the sailors know to buy records by the Clovers? Some of them brought country records in, but that was about it." He refers to a shop called Youngs in Stanley Road.."they would watch me going through boxes of 45s and I would buy things like Bobby Comstock's 'Let's Stomp'."

It wasn't mod up north then though the influence was certainly there in the skin/smooth styles I was becoming aware of by late 60s/early 70s. Any style subculture such as Ted or Mod or Rocker was in the early days secondary to a large amorphous genuinely popular scene.

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:53 pm
by NormanD
There'd likely have been more music brought in via the US military bases, though I'm sure that most of their musical needs were catered for via their own in-camp entertainments and AFN radio. They used syndicated discs of shows like Grand Ol' Opry and I've no idea if there was a black equivalent. American troops would be a good source for cigarettes and booze, as well as sweets and gum, probably more so than 45s.

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 6:34 pm
by Pete Fowler
The Cunard Yanks weren't entirely a myth, Hugh, though I accept, of course, your greater knowledge of Liverpool at the time. I successfully bid for a pile of dosh a few years ago (European, I think) that got a short film made on the Cunard Yanks and the guys definitely knew their music and definitely did bring singles back from their New York trips. I wonder what happened to that film. I failed in the greater mission, going over to New York to try and get film companies interested in the story....I only wish we'd taken a couple of the old Yanks over, still with their quiffs after all these years, and really good story tellers. Theirs was a hoot of a story. Especially when they started bringing back washing machines as well.

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 7:35 pm
by Rob Hall
I've often thought there must be a book/play/film, whatever, in the Cunard Yanks. Myth or not, the idea is rich with possibilities. I'd love to know more if you ever find that film Pete.

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:23 pm
by MartinOwen
There were records you could by at NEMS that you couldn't get anywhere else. Liverpool (and greater Liverpool bands - such as those in north Wales ) would seek out stuff to compete with each other in much the same way as the DJs in the northern soul era would seekout rare grooves.

I can not confirm it was "Cunard Boys" - however the music was available.

Gerry Marsden's repertoire was taken almost entirely from Arthur Alexander and Chuck Willis. The set lists of MerseyBeats, Escorts, Undertakers.... any of the bands I may have seen in my 14-18 period came from records that were otherwise unavailable in the UK. Sometimes you would hear the originals on Caroline North - probably down to DJ Tom Lodge.

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:37 pm
by Hugh Weldon
Well I stand corrected Pete - what would be interesting to know of course is what records they were bringing in and identify titles that actually made it into the groups's repertoires - anyway the film sounds fascinating, there appears to be a trailer on youtube but nothing more. I do recall seeing a photo exhibition either at Liverpool Museum or maybe the Tate on the Cunard Yanks some years ago so I was aware of them, though their impact on music in Liverpool is hard to assess. It didn't seem to have touched the Searchers anyway.

The influence on Country music in Liverpool seems more verifiable. Hank Walters started his Dusty Road Ramblers in the late 40s, the University Institute of Popular Music did a book about it which I must try and dig out.

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 10:09 pm
by John Y
I was looking around for info on clubs other than the Twisted Wheel, such as the Mojo in Sheffield (I guess even Peter Stringfellow had to do something culturally worthwhile, just the once … ), the Torch in Stoke-on-Trent, the Beachcomber in Nottingham, the Nite Owl in Leicester, when I came across this string of, I would say overwhelmingly working-class east Midlands reminiscences, complete with unreconstructed laddishness and all. Although the website itself seems to be more Northern Soul oriented, and virtually all the anecdotes etc (some of which do make a turgid read, be warned) seem to date from around 1966 onwards (as opposed to the 1964 setting of Quadrophenia), I think it does give something of a flavour of how it was.

http://www.soul-source.co.uk/soulforum/topic/86047-nite-owl-leicesterdungeon-and-beachcomber-nottingham/

Maybe worth remembering the impact of Ready Steady Go! too, (which began in August ’63, so would have been an active force in the immediate period under discussion), in disseminating the new breed thing nationwide. I don’t have a copy to hand but I remember George Melly making a similar observation in Revolt Into Style.

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:34 pm
by Pete Fowler
Hugh and Robert: I'll have a go at tracking it down...I did some bizarre things in my time in Liverpool, and none more so than getting money for various lost causes: I got money for running multimedia courses for sacked dockers in 2000; money for creating a Web Site for the old Militant crowd in 2001, kicking that off with an absolutely insane meeting with the old 47 councillors in the Adelphi Hotel (minus those who'd died) and running the meeting with Jimmy McGovern, who I knew I could trust; and, spinning out of these, money for the documentary of The Cunard Yanks, which was directed by one of the guys who ran the Dockers' campaign, Dave Cotterill.

The trouble I have is that I retired from working in the City in 2002 and I am completely out of touch (deliberately: I'm telling you, and Hugh will know, Liverpool is a minefield for the innocent; and I'd done my bit and had enough). But since I would like to see that film again, I'll track it down and give you some workable link to it.

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:51 am
by john poole
Site about Cunard Yanks here -
http://www.cunardyanks.org/index.htm

I remember a Radio 4 documentary a year or two back, but can't trace it at the moment.

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:50 pm
by alister prince
I've had/have tech problems so am late to this strand. A few memories which may or may not add to life's rich pattern. I used to go to Guy Stevens Monday night sessions whenever I could afford it and I could persuade (con) my mum and dad into not asking too many questions about where I was off to on a school night. As has been said the crowd was a real mix: more north of the river than south (me),mainly mod, not very 'grammer school'' in my memory, quite a lot of young black guys. Mainly male, but not macho and not aggressive. Guy Stevens played great music regular favorites as well as new stuff. He was accessible and friendly which was great for a school kid like me. I used to do allnighters there and at The Flamingo (I had great and long suffering parents!), also Studio 51 (Ken Colliers). Of the UK bands Georgie Fame stood out with Zoot Money and a few others. Fame came over as one of us, Mod (didn't know about his backing Billy Fury then) and a penchent for pills. I remember seeing Inez and Charlie Foxx and loving them and loving the fact I had Mockingbird, Sue's first release. The houseband at Studio 51 were The Downliners Sect who took over from the Stones. Their leader Don Crane's mum used to run the club. They had a mean lead guitarist Terry Gibson.
We used to buy imports from Transat in Soho, I've got a block on the street and the guy's name, but it was in a basement and he drank red wine all day and smoked Gitane or Gaulois. We loved that as it fitted in with the cool French ethos. I've got more to add but will come back later.

Aly

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:51 pm
by alister prince
I've had/have tech problems so am late to this strand. A few memories which may or may not add to life's rich pattern. I used to go to Guy Stevens Monday night sessions whenever I could afford it and I could persuade (con) my mum and dad into not asking too many questions about where I was off to on a school night. As has been said the crowd was a real mix: more north of the river than south (me),mainly mod, not very 'grammer school'' in my memory, quite a lot of young black guys. Mainly male, but not macho and not aggressive. Guy Stevens played great music regular favorites as well as new stuff. He was accessible and friendly which was great for a school kid like me. I used to do allnighters there and at The Flamingo (I had great and long suffering parents!), also Studio 51 (Ken Colliers). Of the UK bands Georgie Fame stood out with Zoot Money and a few others. Fame came over as one of us, Mod (didn't know about his backing Billy Fury then) and a penchent for pills. I remember seeing Inez and Charlie Foxx and loving them and loving the fact I had Mockingbird, Sue's first release. The houseband at Studio 51 were The Downliners Sect who took over from the Stones. Their leader Don Crane's mum used to run the club. They had a mean lead guitarist Terry Gibson.
We used to buy imports from Transat in Soho, I've got a block on the street and the guy's name, but it was in a basement and he drank red wine all day and smoked Gitane or Gaulois. We loved that as it fitted in with the cool French ethos. I've got more to add but will come back later.

Aly

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:59 pm
by will vine
Wow! Aly this officially ranks you as Supercool and, I suspect, puts you in the older-than-you-look class. I thought I was cool just having those old Sue compilations.

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2014 5:37 pm
by Adam Blake
Aly is indeed supercool and if you ask him nicely he might tell you about the time he saw Zoot Money with this funny looking black American guitar player who'd just stepped off the plane in company with Chas Chandler.
(Or did I imagine it, Aly?)

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2014 5:45 pm
by Alan Balfour
Transat Imports, 27 Lisle Street. The basement was where it all happened and the owner was partial to Stax 45s, masses of them unplayed.

I recall mentioning this to Leon when he was building his Record Shop Archive.