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4.7 out of 5 stars103
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on 5 September 2013
I took this book to bed, started reading and sat up reading it nearly all night - I just couldn't put it down.
This book really took me back and accurately summed up what it was about from various perspectives, dancers, collectors, DJs and substance users. Meanwhile the authors provide informed background information about the social and economic climate of the times without the usual cliched political statements.
Apart from the way it conveys why it was a thrilling scene to be part of, there are some high moments that the book creates itself. I won't spoil it but there are some great quotes from Ian Levine and Chris Brick, amongst others, that I will be borrowing for a while.
And what about the photographs? A combination of original photos from venues across the lifetime of the scene plus some world class stuff from world class photographer and co-auther Elaine Constantine.
If you only ever buy one book about the scene, this is the one.
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on 5 September 2013
A great book that calls upon many of the Northern Soul world's premier authorities, plus a whole raft of eye witness accounts to present a portrait of a past, present and future of this most stubborn of 'youth' cultures. The look and feel of the book, the rare footage and the layout mark it off from its predecessors.
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on 13 September 2013
I read this great book in one sitting and couldn't put it down. It is unlike any other book on the subject, it has the contributions of well known DJs, punters and collectors including Guy Hennigan, Butch, Rod Shard, Gilly, Jock, Dave Malloy, Chris Brick etc and as well as the usual Wigan, Torch, Wheel stuff actually encapsulates the Stafford / post Stafford 1980s 'underground' ethos which every single book on the subject has failed to do.

If you are to read one book on the subject of Northern Soul this is it. Well written, warts and all account of a dance music scene spanning more than 5 decades.
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on 5 September 2013
This was a labour of love for the authors, and it shows. Great accounts of the Northern Soul scene from those who were (and still are) there. Top read.
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on 6 October 2013
An essential book for anybody interested in this most enduring of music scenes...

I have read many of the books available on the subject and this is probably the most evocative to date, leaving you with a real sense of the passion it still generates to this day. Making a big contribution to this is the large collection of photographs that spin and back-flip from every page (though some are stills from the author's forthcoming and highly anticipated film). Most of these feature real people on the scene, bussing it up and down the country, queueing outside heaving venues, dancing, flicking through record boxes - all the things that made Northern Soul what it was for those who were there.

This pictorial record, along with the recollections and reflections of a large army of original soul boys and girls paints a wonderfully vivid picture for those of us unlucky enough not to have been there. The book covers the complete story from its early beginnings at the Twisted Wheel in Manchester in the late '60s through to the heyday of the mid to late 1970s and continuing the story right up to the present day. What it definitely and quite deliberately is not is an attempt at being the 'definitive' Northern Soul book. Compared with, say, David Nowell's "Too Darn Soulful" or Neil Rushton's "Northern Soul Stories" (both also highly recommended by me!), it is not densely packed with the kind of train-spotting minutiae real devotees might crave. Instead, it paints a big, bold
vivid picture of what it was like to be there. For the average reader, this is probably the most perfect warts and all introduction to Northern Soul you could wish for. It is also a very beautiful thing just to look at, a piece of soulful treasure. Fingers crossed that the film is half as good...!
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on 30 December 2013
I will start my saying it's the best book I've read about the Northern scene, I'm 49 so the history of the scene up to 1978 was quite enlightening. The coverage given to venues of my era apart from Wigan and Stafford was very sparse, don't think there was even a mention of Derby assembly rooms or Birmingham Locarno. The other thing I have to say is yes a lot of people did speed but a lot didn't it was a music scene with drugs in the background not a drugs scene with a musical accompaniment.
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on 19 October 2013
I'm not a huge reader by any stretch and I downloaded this book to keep me company on a long haul. I've read a couple of books dedicated to the Northern Soul movement which have been factual by and large, so I was really looking forward to reading something not covering the same old ground. As this one was advertised as a book of individual and personal experiences of the scene with personal images from along the years you can imagine the anticipation was relatively high. And by and large it delivered in a very enjoyable read. I was particularly interested in the formative years. Understanding the history and heritage, the drive and flavour of the movement, the pushing of musical boundaries, the regional and personal styles which drove the scene forward were all of interest. Coming into the scene late 77 through til 81, this book really helped fill those gaps and bond on an emotional level with the early pioneers. Drugs were never an integral part for me but getting an insight into the use and the dealing of the chemical enhancers, the relationships between dealers, users and police was a fascinating subject in itself. Catching up through the eighties through to the modern movement makes me question whether I did the right thing to leave the scene behind for so long but that's my path that I chose. Image wise, I expected more than the book delivered. Elaine's images were always going to heavily adorn the pages and rightly so but I can't help feel there were too many photo booth passport type photos where I wanted much more dance and venue images. Overall though a thoroughly well written and enjoyable book both as a must have for the devotee and as a piece of social history for the uninitiated. And not one mention of Frank Wilson's "Do I Love You"!
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on 20 June 2014
The first thing to say is this is anattractively put together publication with some excellent insights into the early evolution of Northern Soul from the Mod culture of the 60's. But the content of the contributions and many of the chapters places too much emphasis on the drug scene which allnighters have always attracted, since the early days of the Twisted Wheel. This is largely due to the use of a limited number of contributors for whom attendance at all nighters was predominatly to take or deal in drugs. This is a self fulfilling editorial technique, if you only interview drug users you only get the perspectives of those users with regards to the scene. As someone who was involved in the scene from 1972 and attended venues weekly around the country for many years, this is not the Northern Soul scene I encountered. Sure you knew that 'gear' was part of allnighters and who was dealing and taking it. But users largely kept to themselves and pushers did not try and force pills on those who had no interest in taking them! The vast majority of people had three primary reasons for attending NS events across the country. The music, the dancing and the cameraderie. Many, are still fans or rare soul today of all genres. The book fails to capture and convey the magic of those years, when for a time we shared a wonderful experience with fantastic music - on no more than a few Pro Plus!
I hope the forthcoming film is better balanced than this book.
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on 12 December 2014
The huge achievement of making the film, promoting it and seeing through such a huge project is to be applauded, but this book, by all measures a side project, is an absolute must-read for anyone who has been involved in the scene, or wants to understand what all the fuss was about. It's a first-hand account of a remarkable self-made youth culture that will never be repeated.

I knew a bit about what came before the 1980s scene, but the detail, and the honesty, of those who recall their experiences in the first person makes this book hard to put down.

The 70s scene was very different from the 'relatively' civilised northern soul events that I started going to as a teenager and which remains today in various forms. Some of the stories are hysterical, genuinely way-out, but entirely believable however, given that I knew many of the protagonists personally, or people very like them.

What you're left with is a sense of awe. This was, is, an entire way of life created from within by those who were doing it, no marketing, no big business, no corporate drivers. It evolved in an era pre-digital, pre-cheap flights, pre-muti-channel TV, pre-everything familiar today, when Manchester was a world away from London, and a fair trek by bus from Blackpool. The idea of a self-contained music scene today in the 'North' is nuts, it would be blown wide open by social media in weeks and be big in Dalston within a month.

If you finish this book - superbly compiled from interviews and including a mix of vintage pics and film stills - you may decide that being viewed as a 'div' is worth the price to venture out and try it for yourself; or you may swear to avoid this organised chaos at all costs! At worst you will have more understanding of the ultimate British underground music scene than when you started, how the hell it happened and why it could never happen again.
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on 28 September 2013
Enjoyed the pics (of which there are plenty!) and they create such a powerful nostalgic trip! Indeed I am fortunate to have been forever immortalised in two offerings within these covers!
I am currently reading this and am so far impressed by the general depth of research involving the politics and social unrest of the era, leading upto, as well as including the conception of The Scene itself!
Elaine Constantine certainly uses some pretty 'advanced vocabulary' even for myself, but thanks to the internet and the good old fashioned Oxford Dictionary I will persevere! It definitely seems worth it!
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