It often feels as if the story of the long love affair between the culture and music of black America and British youth, which stretches back from the 1950s up to today, has been overlooked. There are a few books out there about the Northern soul and House Music movements but not much else.
In particular, the underground jazz funk/jazz dance scenes are criminally unrecognised in the mainstream version of British popular music history. Thankfully, Mark 'Snowboy' Cotgrove, a leading DJ and musician on the scene, has made amends with a superb history of this musical movement.
The book is not an exhaustive history of jazz funk and fusion but is about how this music was consumed and enjoyed by British youth. The story begins at the tail-end of the Northern soul scene and spans legendary clubs such as the Goldmine and Lacy Lady in Essex (which became almost as popular as Wigan Casino in the late 1970s), through such notable venues as the Berlin club in Manchester, The Wag, Electric Ballroom and Dingwalls in London and the Thekla in Bristol. It also encompasses the emergence of the Acid Jazz movement in London (and the music label of the same name) and how influence of this essentially British culture spread internationally to Europe, America and Japan. Snowboy's work has also managed to show how this entire story crosses back and forth over into other contemporary UK music scenes such as Northern soul, the Mod revival, New Romanticism, Brit Funk, The Hacienda/Factory Records, House music and Electro/Hip Hop, and may potentially appeal to anyone with more than a passing interest in them.
The book is divided into two halves. The first is in effect a long essay which tells the overall story chronologically and is based on a series of interviews with DJs, dancers and musicians involved. In the second half, the interviews are printed in full. Interviewees include luminaries such as Neil Rushton, Chris Hill, George Power, Colin Curtis, Hewan Clarke, Paul Murphy, Pete Tong, Gilles Peterson, Nicky Holloway and Eddie Piller. Also included are images of the people and venues involved and, for added historical significance, reprinted flyers for such legendary jazz sessions as 'Crackers', 'Cock Happy', 'Special Branch', 'Talkin Loud' at Dingwalls and the Brighton Jazz Bops. The book is beautifully packaged but, unfortunately, all of the images are in black and white. With fairly limited availability, I would tip this book to become a serious collector's item in the future.