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"Reasonably accessible via the M6 and M62 motorways"
on 13 August 2015
In the slightly circuitous sleevenote that accompanies this nostalgic 25 song CD DJ Ian Dewhirst draws attention to the fact that Stoke-on-Trent's Golden Torch was "ideally placed geographically, being reasonably accessible via the M6 and M62 motorways". But it probably wasn't just the good location that drew "lovers of Northern Soul from Birmingham to Scotland" to the venue that first opened for business as a mod club back in 1965. This second instalment in Sony BMG's unspectacular looking, but reasonably-priced, The Northern Soul Story series compiles a small sampler of the tracks that were played at the Torch - as it was more commonly known - when it supplanted Manchester's Twisted Wheel as the epicentre of the north of England's blossoming soul-revival culture in the early 1970's. The Exciters' explosive 'Blowing Up My Mind' is even better than their million-selling 1962 hit 'Tell Him', whilst one of the key icons of the scene Major Lance, who had a legendary live appearance at the venue in late 1972, weighs in with two excellent Okeh releases ('Investigate', 'You Don't Want Me No More'). The frenetic, speedy pace of most Torch anthems is also accurately reflected in the running order by the likes of The Virginia Wolves, whose 'Stay' clocks in at under 100 seconds.
Somewhat frustratingly though Dewhirst's sleevenote also champions a whole heck of a lot of excellent records that can't actually be found here. However, Eddie Parker's 'Love You Baby', Rose Batiste's 'Hit And Run', Luther Ingram's 'Exus Trek', J.J. Barnes's 'Our Love Is In The Pocket', N.F. Porter's 'Keep On Keeping On', the Just Brothers' Sliced Tomatoes' and Johnny Johnson's 'Honey Bee', can be found on the excellent Goldmine Soul Supply label's slightly bigger, and even better, 30 track collection The Golden Torch Story.