Welcome to the Twisted Wheel – Soul Links on Soulbot.uk. The links are one way of understanding the influence and unchanging importance of this sixties soul club on the foundation of Northern Soul.
Clubs and Venues
The Working Life of The Blue Note DJ, Manchester
A Blue Note DJ and an empty dance-floor at The Blue Note Club Manchester. It’s just before the club opens. There are two mod girls in the cloak room to take the overcoats of the punters coming down the stairs. I put on a slow record onto one of the twin Garrard record decks: The Soul Children with “The Sweeter He Is”. It’s a long track and gives me time to sort things out. I turn to my open holdall. Inside are the records I have brought for tonight; lots of vinyl 45’s inside. The box is a long wooden one designed to protect the precious cargo. I get the next record out and put it ready on the other deck: “When Love Slips Away” by Dee Dee Warwick – the year is 1969 and I have been doing this since November 1967 and I would continue working at The Blue Note Club, Manchester until part the way through 1970.
The Soul Children begin to fade out. My concentration moves to the second deck. I get the needle ready to descend right down onto the next spinning disc, it’s hovering right over the beginning of Dee Dee, it drops and a seamless interchange is made.
The Blue Note Club DJ – a typical Friday Night
Sometimes I would hold the rubber mat with my fingers the metal platter spinning below, the record stationary on the rubber ready to go when I released it as the other track on the playing deck fades, and my released one steps up and takes over the audio thundering out of the clubs speakers. If you wanted to talk in here you had to shout into my ear.
Getting people dancing is the aim, one record often does it. When enough people are in the club I shift the tempo up. Motown always works; I put on The Isley Brothers “This Old Heart Of Mine” several girls get on the dance-floor. Its a safe bet to play what the girls like whenever there is an empty dance-floor, the girls lead, the blokes follow. Soon the place was rockin’ and a great atmosphere is emerging.
A DJ can make mistakes in a club that is focused upon dancing. Once you have people dancing it’s the DJ’s job to keep things moving, playing a wrong record and it can all disintegrate. Of course this happens from time to time, it’s inevitable when introducing new sounds. Once the floor is moving there can be no gaps in the music, no delays one song must merge into the next, gaps allow dancers to stop and choose to walk off . No point in introducing records or talking about them; a Soul DJ has to reduce his ego and be anonymous.
At the end of the night you need to feel the right time to introduce slower music, in this club with its real-dance floor – unlike the Twisted Wheel – people could get close and dance together smoothly. Looking back many relationships even marriages began this way right here.
And I like slow Soul ballads.
I started here because I had always wanted to be a DJ and I loved Soul music.
I had been a Blues and then a Soul fan from the early days of the very first Twisted Wheel in Manchester.
In 1967 returning from a two week holiday in Torquay, my girlfriend Denise got a job at the Blue Note in the cloakroom, and when there was a DJ vacancy she suggested me.
Roger Eagle was the first DJ at the Blue Note after his bust up with the owners of The Wheel. He took his record collection to the new club and set the scene there for a concentration on Stax records. After Roger there was for six months Lez Lee, who left leaving the club without a DJ, so the owner John Fogel stepped in. But he had few records and little appreciation of the Soul scene in the city. My girlfriend’s suggestion gave me the opportunity to continue the spread and range of Soul music there. I had a large collection of 45’s, EP’s and LPs I had been collecting for may years.
I worked there: Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesdays and some Thursdays. I didn’t do the All nighters, instead I got my pal from my day job, AVRO in Chadderton North Manchester to do the graveyard shift: DL Dave Lomas.
Stax, Soul and Cool, Cool Music
We continued the Stax theme and we imported records from auctions for deleted USA singles (45’s) The Blue Note was responsible for emerging lots of records that then caught on at the Twisted Wheel and many where later taken up (discovered!) on the subsequent Northern Soul scene.
A deleted part from a book about those times: THE MANCHESTER WHEELERS.
SOULBOT is built and maintained by Bob & Dave both were DJ’s at the Blue Note.
Blue Note resurgence sadly no longer active:
THE NEWBEAT CLUB : JANUARY 2014 – blue note club special
at The Waldorf, Gore Street, City Centre Manchester M1 3AQ
On the basis that January saw The Nu Beat’s own tribute to Manchester’s legendary Blue Note Club, our January playlist is a handful of tunes that were popular at The Blue Note in the late ’60s
William Bell – Marching Off To War
William Bell – Never Like This Before
Johnnie Taylor – Blues In The Night
Hank Levine – Image (Pt II)
The Astors – Candy
Ketty Lester – West Coast
Joyce Bond – Sugar
The Temptations – You’re Not An Ordinary Girl
Dusty Springfield – A Brand New Me
The Drifters – Up In The Street of Harlem
The Pyramids – Train Tour To Rainbow City
The Skatalites – Guns of Navarone
Roland Alphonso – El Pussycat
Lloyd Terrell – Bang Bang Lulu.
R & B Scene – Roger Eagle
1964 saw the first ever FANZINE for Blues and Soul music and its artists. R & B Scene – Roger Eagle was started by Roger Eagle, with a little help from his friends. Roger was the eclectic DJ at Manchester’s Twisted Wheel club: the epicentre in the North of England for Mod culture, Blues, R&B and Soul music. The club and its music play list inspired by Roger became the birthing centre for what we know today as Northern Soul.
Guy Stephens London Scene club DJ and Sue records manager was a pal of Rogers. Roger Fairhurst and importantly Brian Smith (photographer) contributed to the magazine that Roger sold for a shilling at the ‘Wheel’ and the nearby coffee bar: The Cona.
Brian Smith with Screaming Jay & Henry the skull
R n’ B scene: Twisted Wheel advert
Some of Brian Smiths(c) Photos:
Brian Smith’s book- BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM: pictures of the artists at the Twisted Wheel and others: see Brian Smith Fan Photographer.
Brian with Bo Diddley:
Brian Smith – Blues photographer
Brian Smith – Blues photographer, was a friend of Roger Eagle and it was Brian who photographed many of the artists appearing at The Twisted Wheel, at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester and other places.
The list of photographs of these artists ties in with their performances at ‘The Wheel’ and you can see the complete list below.
Boom Boom Boom Boom – Brian Smith Book
Now, the photographs that Brian took in the 1960’s are to appear in the book:
That title must have something to do with John Lee Hooker who appeared several times at the first, Brazennose Street ‘Wheel’.
FEATURING : Johnny Guitar Watson, Big Joe Turner, Chuck Berry, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed, Hubert Sumlin, Howlin Wolf, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, The Rolling Stones, Carl Perkins AND MANY MORE. However its been in the pipeline for years and no sign of it?
Brian’s pictures featured in Roger Eagles R&B Scene.
Millie Small (“My Boy Lollipop”) with Roger Eagle 1964. Photo (c) Brian Smith, Brian sent me lots of his photographs for use within my various Soul / Twisted Wheel websites.
The Torch – Stoke on Trent
The Torch – Stoke on Trent was The Golden Torch ballroom – Northern Soul venue in the seventies, based in Stoke on Trent.
In the sixties, Stoke on Trent was only in our heads as a place closer to Manchester hitchhiking on our way back from watching Prince Buster in Stafford.
Every Saturday there would be a convoy of mods making the trek from areas in the Midlands such as Stoke and Stafford up the M6 to the Twisted Wheel in the sixties. This may have been influential in the re-emergence of a Soul venue in a similar area.
The Torch was the first allnighter Soul venue to get going for the displaced Soulies after the closure of The Twisted Wheel in Manchester. However, it didn’t last long and closed in 1973 passing the Northern Soul allnighter baton to Wigan Casino.
The Golden Torch – Music played
As with all these Wheel spinoffs, The Torch attracted a loyal band of followers and albums of the music played there has been released.
Some of the memorable 45’s played there are on this CD:
The Golden Torch – The Northern Soul Story
1. Just Like The Weather – Chance, Nolan
2. I’ve Got Something – Sam & Kitty
3. Sliced Tomatoes – Just Brothers
4. Sweet Darlin’ – Clarke, Jimmy ‘Soul’
5. Our Love – Barnes, J.J.
6. Honey Bee – Johnson, Johnny
7. I Can’t Get Away – Garrett, Bobby
8. I Still Love You – Superlatives
9. Crackin’ Up Over You – Hamilton, Roy
10. Love You Baby – Parker, Eddie
11. Personally – Paris, Bobby
12. One In A Million – Brown, Maxine
13. Thumb A Ride – Wright, Earl
14. I’m Standing – Lumley, Rufus
15. I Feel An Urge – Armstead, Jo
16. I Don’t Want To Cry – Gray, Pearlean & The Passengers
17. Exus Trek – Ingram, Luther
18. Keep On Keepin’ On – Porter, N.F.
19. I’m So Glad – Johnson, Herb
20. Quick Change Artist – Soul Twins
21. One Wonderful Moment – Shakers
22. Hit And Run – Shakers
23. Soul Self Satisfaction – Jackson, Earl
24. That’s Alright – Crook, Ed
25. Compared To What – Mr. Flood’s Party
26. Blowing Up My Mind – Exciters
27. Please Let Me In – Barnes, J.J.
28. I Love You Baby – Scott, Cindy
29. Queen Of The Go Go – Garvin, Rex
30. Angel Baby – Banks, Darrell
The place that brought back Soul music all-nighters after the closure of other locations (primarily The Twisted Wheel) was the Wigan Casino. It became the 1970’s epicentre for Northern Soul all-nighters.
Richard Searling And Russ Winstanley were the most famous DJ’s at the venue and Russ started it all off.
After the closure of Manchester clubs like The Twisted Wheel (and The Blue Note), the soul all Nighter scene moved to Wigan after a few months at the Torch. Here the search for ever more obscure recordings became more of the fashion than the original wider known recordings.
Today Northern Soul is experiencing another revival. In the past the Northern Soul musical appeal has focused mainly upon up tempo sounds.
I suspect that as these aging fans slow down (like us older original Wheel survivors) they will ‘discover’ some of the slower richer soul in many an overlooked soul ballad. Slow soulful numbers were always popular in the 1960’s, many of which are listed in this database.
What an Amazon reviewer said about this CD: I love these northern soul compilations. Apart from the “beats per minute” requirement then pretty much any thing can end up on them. In the seventies these records certainly widened my taste in music and made me sweat in a wild blaze of euphoria on the dance floor.
Let’s face it – some of the vocalists are bad You can hear them straining to get their 2 1/2 minutes of fame – bless’em and many of the tracks are derivitive . But then again all the effort can produce something uplifting.
A lot of these sounds were produced by small labels on a shoestring budget.The instrumentation, playing and production is dire in some cases but on nearly every track there is something to love – a bassline, an organ sound, some groovy guitar lick, great horns etc…
O.K. so you could buy a Motown compilation instead but you won’t have so much FUN.
The sound quality doesn’t seem too bad either. Dance on….if you’re still able. Keep The Faith
Wikipedia: Wigan Casino
Blackpool Twisted Wheel
The Blackpool Twisted Wheel? Yes, there was a Twisted Wheel club in Blackpool. I remember a group of mods on scooters parked outside who decided that the fashion of the day was to wear school caps. The sight of these guys in parkas and various coloured and striped caps was bizarre will stay with me for ever.
I always thought that Soul Clubs had to be cellar dives (best with condensation dripping down from the roof and walls as for instance the Wheel in Manchester). This one was upstairs over a block of shops, on Coronation Street with an ordinary cafe on the ground floor. I remember being stood on the pavement outside the club when someone from somewhere across the street threw a bottle of beer at me which just narrowly missed my head.
Never one to miss a business opportunity, Ivor Abadi, owner of the Manchester Twisted Wheel, organised a coach trip there on at least one weekend -Easter Sunday 1967. I was on that trip.
We queued up outside the Wheel on Whitworth Street and the coach arrived and we all piled on. I had a packed lunch that my mum had made me! I was given two green and clears by a friend which ended up inserted into the chocolate Swiss roll that was part of my picnic…the result of taking these led to a different adventure but that’s another story…
If I remember correctly the club was run by his father. I can only remember Edwin Starr being played upstairs on the dance floor and The Impressions being played in the coffee bar downstairs. It did not stay open long but good fun while it lasted.
The first time I went to the Blackpool Twisted Wheel on Coronation Street the DJ had so many requests for SWEET SOUL MUSIC by Arthur Conley (It had just been released in the UK on Red Atlantic) that I guess it was played on that mid afternoon session well over half a dozen times.
I went to the Blackpool Twisted Wheel on another couple of occasions on my scooter, accompanied by my old school pal Chris Bean – I wonder where he is now? We kipped the night in a bus shelter and the next day were ordered to leave the town of Blackpool by a stout sergeant who took exception to Chris riding pillion, facing in the opposite direction and reading a newspaper. Blackpool wasn’t ready for us and that’s saying something today!
According to the Jethro Tull Tour Schedule (1965-1969) the group appeared at the Blackpool Twisted Wheel club on 12th June, 1966.
However, much later, the Blackpool Mecca became a venue for later Northern Soul fans in the 1970s and so Blackpool fans had a local soul club – for a time.
Blue Note Club Manchester – top soul club
THE BLUE NOTE CLUB Gore Street Manchester
Second only to the Twisted Wheel, the Blue Note Club Manchester carried the torch for Soul music in the city from 1967 to 1970 (it did continue to 1971 but at that time it became more varied and more Jamaican music influenced). It was a typical cellar soul club, not very big but with a very loyal clientele and a cool selection of music. For some strange reason the demolished building has never been built on and is now just a bit of scrap land next to the Waldorf pub.
The Blue Note has never achieved the kind of notoriety of the Twisted Wheel but in many ways it was its equal in starting and developing what today is known as Northern Soul, certainly in its choice of music.
The DJ who opened the club was Roger Eagle who left the twisted Wheel as its premier music director to launch the nearby new club. He focused greatly on Stax.
Roger got a few parcels of free 45’s direct from Jim Stewart at Stax in Memphis after writing to him. This enabled Roger to be the first to introduce and play quite a lot of Stax material at The Blue Note.
Roger Eagle Leaves The Blue Note Club in 1967
After Roger Eagle left The Blue Note he went on to start his own club STAXX on Fountain Street Manchester (1967).
Stax tracks played at the Blue Note at the time included:
Mable John: Your Good Thing / Able Mable.
Albert King Cold Feet / I Love Lucy
Johnnie Taylor: Toe Hold / Blues In The Night
Sam & Dave: Hold On I’m Comin’ / You Got Me Hummin
Derek Martin: Soul Power
The DJs that followed Roger were well versed in Soul Music and expanded the club’s repertoire, launching many of the classics and many also of what became known as Northern Soul collectibles. They also started to import ’45s from the States and formed a company to import and sell some of the rare singles they managed to acquire. One of the most successful sales was for The Dovells track You Can’t Sit Down which was played by Roger back to back with the Phil Upchurch version, a combination followed at the Blue Note.
Another Blue Note Favourite:
A note from the former Blue Note DJ’s:
Hi, Its Dave and Bob here, both of us were DJ’s at this club in the Sixties, along with our pal Dave Lomas: sad to say he passed on a few years back.
Blue Note Club PLAYLIST@ SOULDIRECTIONS
For the latest up-to-date list of venues visit the GOLDSOUL Website.
The Chitlin Circuit was the name given to a series of venues in the USA deep South States in the 1950s and 60s.
These locations were often cotton bale warehouses that were emptied of the bales and could hold thousands, usually black people only.
The artists would tour between these in small towns. More often than not the promoters would rip of the artists paying them in kind with items such as clothing (suits) even Cadillacs but rarely cash.
Blues Boy Hubbard remembers the Chitlin Circuit
Wikipedia: Chitlin Circuit