Ian Levine Presents...Reaching For the Best - The Northern Soul Of Blackpool Mecca

The latest Sanctuary Records Soul music release turns the spotlight on The Northern Soul of Blackpool Mecca with the tracks selected by the main DJ there, Ian Levine.The history of the Mecca is told in detail in the CD booklet along with a track by track commentary by Levine himself, but to cut a long story short in the summer of 1973 after a few false starts the DJ established himself in the Mecca's Highland Room, which was a smaller ballroom above the large ballroom which featured a danceband playing the pop hits of the day. Levine while on holiday in Miami purchased in a charity sale four thousand ex radio station records which along with his DJ colleague Colin Curtis created in his own words 'the so called greatest team up in history of Northern Soul'. Between 1973 and 1979 Blackpool Mecca created its own brand of Northern Soul, always in competition with Wigan Casino, the clubs playlist gradually moved away from the out and out 100 MPH 'stompers' to the then new releases which were generally of a slower tempo.

The Carstairs "It Really Hurts My Girl" is considered by Levine to be the record that heralded this change and over the years has come to be regarded as the Mecca's anthem. The Voices Of East Harlem's gospel inspired "Cashing In" is a slice of Chicago magic. The Detroit sound of Motown was created by Holland-Dozier-Holland who continued their hit making after their split with Motown with their own Invictus label from which a record that didn't register with the record buying public, but was acknowledged by the Mecca crowd as a classic, was Eloise Laws "Love Factory". One of the best Motown sound-alikes is included, the underrated Debbie Taylor's "No Deposit, No Return". Lamont Dozier also makes an appearance as a performer on his own original version of the Odysyy hit "Going Back To My Roots".

Some of the tracks have a soupcon of the incoming disco sound about them, heard to the best effect on Bessie Banks "Don't You Worry Baby" and to the worst on Carrie Lucas overlong "I Gotta Keep Dancing". Levine has chosen to include several of his own productions, but for this listener only the Barbara Pennington track cuts the mustard. Gil Scott-Heron's social commentary "The Bottle", recently covered by Paul Weller, is included and viewers of the recent "No Angels" TV Series will recognize "Landslide" by Tony Clarke.

So you have fifty tracks to either relive your Mecca days or if you weren't there a chance to get a different slanton Northern Soul through classy tracks by the likes of The Anderson Brothers, Larry Saunders, Derek Martin, Charen Cotton and Diane Jenkins to name just a few

Derek McCann

Post your Mecca Memories comments on the Message Board