Major Lance

Major Lance - Um, Um, Um, Um, Um (Shivaree)

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I always thought that this song by Major Lance sounded a bit like Jerk By The Larks; I had an EP with this song on it, now lost in time or nicked by some git! And the list of fantastic 45’s goes on and on…just like…Um Um UM. Mr Lance was a Major player at the First and second Twisted Wheel. Um Um Um Um Um was probably the first record of his that I heard at the first Twisted Wheel club and it was soon also recorded by a local singer, who played live at the club: Wayne Fontana, who had more of a hit with the song than Major Lance.

Major Lance, despite assertions made in certain books in the 1990s, was not discovered by Northern Soul aficionados in the early 1970s but was being played regularly in the Twisted Wheel in Brazennose Street (the first location for the club) in 1963. “Rhythm” was almost the signature tune for the club around Christmas 1964.

Roger Eagle had an enormous admiration for The Impressions and Curtis Mayfield in particular. When Curtis wrote for Major Lance, Roger imported the singles from the USA. exploding the myth made by the latter day ‘Northern Soul’ crowd that they were the first to import singles in the early 1970s.

Many soul fanatics in the 1960s were importing 45s from the States.  They had music papers that printed the USA Billboard R&B chart so they knew what hot at the time. They had auction listings for USA singles – post chart discs signified by the hole punched in them to denote their deleted status.

Obviously the  best tracks from an artist got played much more than others in their repertoire. Consequently many of these were not released in the UK and became much rarer. The track  “It’s The Beat” by Major Lance is a case in point. It was strongly influenced by “Rhythm” and “The Beat” was an inferior sequel. However, in the later Northern scene it begat a new status, one based mainly on rarity, not quality.

Major Lance was revived due to his popularity from Northern Soul activity (of course applauded by us, we loved the man!) and tours the UK, based on his new set of fans. So far so good. Years later Northern Soul book writers say they discovered him and his other tracks when he had already had a first phase of appreciation many years prior. Does all this matter? Probably not but it illustrates how history is always partial and based on often uncertain knowledge of later investigators. Maybe the answer is – research, research, research.
A very smart dressed guy, tight fitting Italian mohair suits, top pocket-handkerchief and cufflinks – he’s a Mod! Look at his suit button settings – there’s no doubt he sooooo cool. “Rhythm” and “Monkey Time” are two recordings that fit into the core of records that were constantly played soul Allnighter tracks. “Monkey Time” was written by

Curtis Mayfield and played at every Allnighter and recorded by the Miracles.  Just a fantastic track with such appropriate lyrics that Wheel goers sang it about the Wheel: There’s a place right across town whenever your ready, Where people gather round whenever their ready, then the music begins to play, and automatically your on your way…are you ready..’. Hearing these tracks today still brings out goose pimples and makes what’s left of my hair stand on end.

It was due to Curtis Mayfield’s Writing genius (Rhythm) and (Monkey Time) combined with Major Lance’s performance that resulted in great Northern MOD anthems.

Um Um Um Um Um - EP

What’s that sound…that’s RHYTHM:

This was a Manchester Mod Anthem .. Literally we used to sing it on the way across town to the Wheel:

Song Lyrics – The Monkey Time – Major Lance (Curtis Mayfield)

Now there’s a place right across town, whenever you’re ready
Where the people gather ’round, whenever they’re ready
And then the music begins to play
You feel a groove comin’ on its way

Are you ready? Yes I’m ready.
You get yours, I got mine
For the monkey time, monkey time

Now this dance that the people do, don’t know how it started
All I know is when the beat brings the feel
it’s hard to get parted
And then the music begins to play
And automatically you’re on your way

Are you ready? Yes I’m ready.
You get yours, I got mine
for the monkey time, monkey time

Do the monkey yeah,
Do the monkey yeah,
Do the monkey yeah, yeah
Do the monkey yeah, yeah

Twist them hips
Let your backbone slip
Now move your feet
Get on the beat

Are you ready? Yes I’m ready.
You get yours, I got mine
for the monkey time, monkey time

Say Fee, are you ready tonight?
I’m ready baby.
But you’re ready for what, Fee?
I’m ready to do the monkey.
But are you ready for my monkey?
I’m ready, and my monkey’s ready.
Your monkey?! Oooo, you’d better put that baby on a chain!
Say baby, my monkey know what he talkin’ about.
Now stop it Fee!

Want a whole lot o’ love tonight
Treat your monkey right
Want a whole lot o’ love tonight
Monkey time tonight

His last real ‘hit’ was Stay Away From Me in 1970.
Appeared live at several Northern Soul venues in the early 70’s

On the song “Stay Away From Me” (1970) you can hear the formative styles of orchestration and production that would later emerge on many of Curtis Mayfield compositions.

You Don’t Want Me Know More: is the Major Lance track that makes it to position 66 on Kev Roberts Top 500, and he had all those we played in the sixties to choose from! We had his 45’s listed above ‘B’ sides and his LP’s and played lots e.g. Too Hot To Hold. But that’s not so surprising as I read in one book about northern Soul that on that scene they claim to have actually discovered Major Lance!!! Never thinking that he was famous in 1964 on our original Mod Soul scene.

Wikipedia: Major Lance