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Baker's Dozen

You Got Soul: Norman Jay's Favourite Singles
Yousif Nur , January 20th, 2016 10:42

After releasing his latest Good Times compilation last year, the DJ talks Yousif Nur through the early musical experiences that shaped his taste, from northern soul nights to crate-digging for 7"s, in picking his top 13 records


Various ‎– 'Casino Classics Three Before Eight'
When I first went to Wigan Casino, I didn't know any of the tracks there. It was a total culture shock. In 1977, I can remember punk rock just beginning to happen, disco was exploding in a massive way across America and in the south of England. So when I went up to Wigan it was a very inward-looking scene, playing all these old records that sounded crap, frankly, because we didn't know any of them. I liked the experience of the Casino because I'd been reading about it in Blues & Soul magazine four or five years before I ever got the opportunity to go there. In that year, I went up there three or four times, because that was when I got my first car so we were able to drive up. I remember out of the five of my mates who drove up there, I was the only one who loved or embraced it, even if I didn't know any of the songs that were played! The only one I recognised was Judy Street's 'What'! I also remember the 'Three Before Eight' fondly – 'Long After Tonight Is All Over' by Jimmy Radcliffe, 'Time Will Pass You By' by Tobi Legend and 'I'm On My Way' by Dean Parrish. RK Records in the UK had also reissued them on an EP and that was how I was able to buy it.

I heard about these records for years but had no way of buying them, because they didn't play what they deemed northern soul in the south of England. I had no problem with the divide, but my friends did. The north was playing new old discoveries, but you can't base a scene on old records, as there's only a finite amount of them. But being in London, we were hipsters always looking for only the brand new and the latest things, continuing on with the mod scene, always looking forward. We didn't like yesterday's music. Where Wigan Casino was packed out week after week and had been playing Major Lance and with him selling out the venue, in America he wouldn't even have got arrested at that time! The music spectrum I was into was all about the new, though, with acts like Brass Construction and Brooklyn Express. They were selling a million records in the state of New York alone! With 100,000 pre-orders each! So as for going to Wigan and listening to '60s records? I eventually grew to love it.

It appealed to me because I was also a record collector. I remember going to a stall and seeing all the prices of 7"s I'd never heard of and seeing astronomical sums thinking, "I'd never pay that! What's the point of this?! I'd rather spend £100 on lots of new music! Why would I pay that for one old single or a four-track demo at best?" I'm being pretty scathing, but I loved the scene all the same. I had no problem with old songs and then going to Global Village under the arches in London, hearing tunes that wouldn't be out for another six months.