A fresh faced youth called Pete Haigh used to do the odd guest spot there & that was where I really got to know him - asking him questions about tunes etc. I remember being invited round to his house to listen to some records - even then he had a swaps box & I had a copy of an old stomper by Earl Harrison which Pete wanted - a swap took place - he got "Humphrey Stomp" & I got 2 soul pack records - hmmmmmm - think Mr Haigh got the better deal there !!
I started going to The Mecca in the summer of '74 - it was hit & miss whether I would get in as I was only 16 at the time & got knocked back many a time for being too young. Got to know Steve better early '75. We all lived within about half a mile of each other so we started to get a taxi home together from The Highland Room - we would always get out at the "mid point" - Pete's house was the nearest to this place - hmmmmmm - think Mr Haigh got the better deal there !! I can remember waxing lyrical to Steve about a certain record by Rock Candy which was & still is a great tune. Years on Steve told me at that point he began to warm to me & a great friendship was born.
Got to know Pete Mason a few months later. The Blackpool crew & the Preston crew used to sit at opposite corners of The Highland Room & we were all on "nodding" terms with each other. One of the Preston crew was a skinny guy (says me who was 9 stone wet through back then !!) who always seemed to dance to the same tunes that I did. One night whilst answering the call of nature the said guy from Preston was stood in the next trap - mid flow he turns to me & says "That "I Don't Know" by Bobby Womack is a bloody good tune !!". We had just both been dancing to it. We washed & shook hands, introduced ourselves & have been close friends ever since. I think Pete more than anybody I know has a similar taste in music to me & it has been our bond for over 30 years.
When I first got into Soul music I was still at school so therefore I never had huge amounts of money to feed my interest. I have always enjoyed searching & mooching in shops, record boxes etc. & by getting to know names of writers, producers it became fairly easy to spot tunes with at least some potential & without breaking the bank to do so. I still hold with that philosophy now - however the shops & boxes are now mainly the internet.
Most of my digging is done by searching the various sites & mixes that are available on the www. For example a 4 track "Deep House" 12 inch might have a wonderful piece of Jazzy or Soulful House tucked away on the "B" side - the fun I have is finding them - but be prepared to wade through some tosh to get there !! Sometimes that "Jazz Lounge" album contains a brilliant uptempo gem on it. All tunes initially get the "60 second treatment" from me - first 20 seconds, followed by the middle 20, then the last 20. I have to hear something in there I like, to put it on my "wishlist". Years ago we all looked to America for our tunes - now Scandinavia, Italy & Japan (amongst others) are producing some fantastic music. I can honestly say I spend nearly every day searching for tunes. Obsessive ? No !! I just love it.
Generally by "banging on" about a tune to my mates - or recommending them to people via EMS etc. However the most pleasure I get is when I play a tune at one of our nights & one person comes up to me to ask what it is. It makes everything worthwhile & gives me the confidence to keep playing & recommending the music I love. When I am DJing I keep a pen & pad by the decks in case people want to write titles down - it also helps out when they are wondering what that male deep voiced house track I played about 11.40 the night before was !!
I have always loved the the joyous, uplifting sound of soul music. I am a total sucker for a catchy melody with a wonderful chorus which grabs you. I love to see the dancefloor reacting to people like Stephanie Cooke, Mario Biondi, Terisa Griffin etc. whose music will put a smile on anyones face. Sometimes think it is hard to balance what is catchy & what is poppy - it can be a thin line. I would like to think that giving people something to smile & singalong to on the dancefloor creates a warm & happy atmosphere. Soulful dance music certainly puts a smile on my face.
Think the quality soul & jazz music is still out there - sometimes you may have to look hard for it but, believe me, it is there. I seem to be enjoying the music coming out of Europe as much as anything at the moment but always trying to find the "good stuff" from the USA.
There is still lots of wonderful Soul, House & Jazz out there - just enjoy it !!
Q & A with Andy Lett
I went to the same primary school as Pete & Steve. They are 2 years older than me & I didn't really know them then. Pete was in the same class as my older sister so I knew of his existence from an early age.I got into the "rare soul" (it was youth club music then) scene around 1972 & started going to local clubs such as Disco 72, then Schoey's etc. Around 1973/4 I started going to a club called Gallopers which was basically a pop disco but played a lot of Philly, Motown & Northern.
1. You, Pete Haigh and Steve go back a long way. How and where did you meet? and can you remember the first topic of conversation? and how did your friendship with Pete Mason begin?
2. Andy, you have quite a reputation for digging out a good tune, sticking with it and making it widely known. When and how did all this interest start for you? and how much time a week/day to you spend searching for that exclusive tune?
3. It's a natural thing for you to spread the word of a new tune. In what ways do you go about this?
4.You were once given the nick name as "Housewives Choice" within the Soulful Dance fratenity. How and why did this come about?
5. Where is your head musically at the moment?and what direction do you see as being the most popular for the dancefloor in 2010?
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