2 January 2012

Footsie - Condition Red/ Cabbage Patch

Label: Tangsong
Year of Release: 1975

I've explained before that the Northern Soul scene in the seventies became an incredibly broad church with some niteries (not least the Wigan Casino) adopting songs which were closer in style to uptempo mod-styled sixties floor-fillers than soul as such. In the same manner that the great hunt for the next buried "psychedelic" record has led us to describe some very bubblegum discs as being "popsike", the desperation for new nuggets in a heavily mined genre led to similar behaviour with old soul music in the seventies. The numerous snide YouTube comments under videos of tracks describing themselves as "Northern Soul" these days points towards the fact that a great many punters were disgruntled by this activity (and remain so) but it didn't seem to hurt ticket sales for the nights at the time.

So then, here we have a slice of supposed Northern Soul. I say "supposed" because it was clearly recorded in 1975, and seems to have been engineered for the dancefloors of the time in the same manner that artists like Wigan's Chosen Few and Wigan's Ovation were. It's a strange little record consisting of a very squeaky electric organ playing a jolly melody over the top of some mid-tempo pounding, and as such these days it sounds closer to a jokey Misty's Big Adventure out-take (such as this one) than Dobie Gray. The fluffy English Shepherd dog sitting amongst some flowers on the record label also seems peculiarly out of place, matching the tweeness of the record near perfectly, but having very little to do with a talcum powder covered dancefloor. Perhaps more oddly still, it's actually merely a cover of another peculiar Northern Soul favoured track by The Baltimore and Ohio Marching Band. You wouldn't have thought a record like this one would easily exist, much less a cover version of such a beast.

Apparently this did enjoy a number of spins in the clubs at the time, and copies of it are surprisingly easy to come by these days, which would suggest that it did sell reasonably well (as indeed many Northern discs did, selling steadily over the course of many months rather than storming the charts). What seems peculiar now obviously passed as a semi-credible disc at the time, and I must admit that I do enjoy the jauntiness of this record - but I've a sneaking suspicion that if I tried to spin it at a club night now, I'd be accused of taking the piss. But maybe, just maybe...

As ever, if anyone knows the story behind the band Footsie (who I suspect were just some session folk) and the odd label Tangsong, please do drop me a line.

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