Friday, December 17, 2004

Godin ya, son

Lotsa good stuff in the old Guardian Arts section this week - profile of Bobby Friction & Nihal, BBC radio's Asian overground DJ duo; a review of the recently-late Dave Godin's latest Deep Soul Treasures compilation, which serves, according to the review, as his fitting epitaph; and a cool piece on The Most Beautiful [record] Sleeves of 2004 (or go straight to the photos here).

Hadn't really thought before about the proximity of Dave Godin's and John Peel's deaths, but really, there could hardly be anyone whose lives in music have effected my personal tastes more than those two. Peel, of course, for those late night weekend gatherings at Raia Pixton's house, fawning over the few Peel Session EPs she had stacked on the shelf (Siouxsie, Joy Division), and all the intrigue that they held. It's rare that something - especially a rock music something - can remind me of that feeling of intensity, of a completely welcomed yet unknown world, that the artists of those initial Peel Session exposures exploded. I never really liked Siouxsie, but I still get all stomach-churny when I learn something new about her; Joy Division still makes me feel the romanticism of a whole world that is so elementally distant yet completely correct.

It still happens of course: The only other true explosion of musical-cultural passion like that for me was northern soul. Dave Godin didn't just give it its name, he might as well have fathered it, turning Tamla Motown out on the UK, giving little bored kids in Wolverhampton and Wigan and other horrible places I never want to go that start with W, something equally mythological: Black American music. I can hardly conceive of what it was like in the 1960s to be a young Brit, wartime parents still growing victory gardens, and hear the downtrodden-yet-hedonistic joy of the Supremes or Vandellas or Miracles - imagine "Going to a Go-Go" when your biggest night out is a round of bitter a block away? But I bet it's something akin to hearing New Order in Binghamton, NY, when your previous exposure to modern non-radio music was Rush. Only bigger.

Northern soul was equally big for me: All the blow-up of Anglophilia combined with the frantic passion of black U.S. soul music - give me all of it. And like all the best personal experiences with music, it's taken me everywhere else: Every dance music I like is informed by the history and the sound of northern, from Metro Area to disco to Fatboy Slim to funk.

So thanks, Dave and John, for everything. A couple of eccentric - perhaps even weird - chaps with insatiable musical passions opening doors for other people. May there be more like you, and it diminishes you not to guess that there will.


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