Thursday, 8 September 2011

Can you show me the way to Temple Street?

I first had the honor of meeting Dave Godin of the Tamla Motown Appreciation Society when he visited Hitsville in 1964, and that’s when I quickly became aware of how fanatical the Brits are about Soul Music.

However, never in my wildest dreams did I think that a book about my recollections of an American musical institution would be published by Soul mad Brits rather than in the USA.

When Neil Rushton first approached me with a somewhat vague idea about obtaining permission to reproduce my archive of Motown photos, he sent me a copy of his book, Northern Soul Stories. I loved the marriage of text and graphics and that led to Neil and Bill Baker flying in to attend a Motown seminar at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor last February.

After several discussions, the idea for what has become Hype & Soul took shape and eventually became a reality. Neil, Bill and their art director Glenn Gunton have done so much to honor the Motown legacy with this labor of love.

However, I must admit that I was somewhat confused when I learned that the publishing house set up to deal with Hype & Soul had been named TempleStreet, but not as I thought in honor of being the location of a Jewish house of worship somewhere in the UK.

In reality, it was recognition by Neil and Bill of the Temple Street address in Wolverhampton in UK’s West Midlands that was the site of a long-gone iconic Northern Soul venue called The Catacombs where both were once young DJ's. It's a long way distance and culture wise from West Grand Boulevard, Detroit to Temple Street, Wolverhampton - but musically at one time not a big jump at all!

Bill has been a Motown fan since 1970 when Dave Handley, a mutual schoolmate of Neil and Bill first turned him on to the Sounds of Soul. Bill recalls that Neil & Dave were probably into Motown 18 months before him and conversely he is about 18 months older than both.

Inspired by being a young soul DJ, Bill went on to collect every single UK 45 Motown release up to about 1980, Neil meanwhile became a respected top soul DJ and promoter and this has culminated in their love of Soul & Motown in publishing Hype & Soul.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Remembering Esther Gordy Edwards

I was among the hundreds who attended the funeral of Esther Gordy Edwards in Detroit last week. I really do wish Esther could have seen and read Hype & Soul. I think it would have pleased her.

The media did a great job of reporting the details of the funeral, so I’m not going to repeat them here. But I wanted to share with you some photos my wife Nancy shot at the event. You’ll recognize Berry Gordy and Stevie Wonder, Martha Reeves and Janie Bradford. But before you look at the photo of me with Brian and Eddie Holland (and Dennis Bowles, son and biographer of the legendary Beans Bowles in the middle), check out the photo elsewhere on this blog showing how the three of us looked in 1965.

Great news for everyone who ordered their copy of Hype & Soul through the Soulvation special pre-publication offer.

Neil Rushton reports that all of the books ordered pre-publication were shipped on September 6. Watch your mailboxes!

Some reviewers have already weighed in with advance praise for the book. Take a look at what journalist Paul Nixon, compiler/producer of the UK’s A Cellarful of Motown series and Ray Ellis, writer and photographer for Juke Blues, have said:

Looks amazing is an understatement. This has to be THE Motown book or indeed music book of the past decade, fantastic pictures and terrific memorabilia - many things I've never seen before. Beautifully printed and collated - it's a must have for ANY Motown fan - you need to order your copy now if you haven't already, well done Al and Neil...

Paul Nixon

The book has arrived…and what an absolute visual delight! This visually stunning book is certainly well worth the wait! Chock full of previously unpublished material from the archives of its author, PR man Al Abrams plus many of Al's inimitable anecdotes make for an enticing read. I'm sure the book will be a sure-fire winner on this side of the pond!

Ray Ellis