Afterglow & Yr Guts

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Mt. Doubt - In Awe of Nothing Artwork

Back in February I featured Edinburgh act Mt. Doubt, describing them as ‘sonically intriguing’ and since then they’ve made an appearance in the Sunday Herald’s Guide to Scotland’s Best Up-and-Coming Bands and been selected for a spot on the T Break stage at T in the Park on Saturday 9th July.

A second album, titled In Awe of Nothing is released today on CD, digital download and 12″ vinyl and very good it is too with my favourite tracks being To a Cusp and Soak.

As singer/guitarist/songwriter Leo Bargery says: ‘The music coming out of Scotland is, as ever, prolific and incredibly exciting. We’re very grateful to be part of it all!’ I get the feeling that Mt. Doubt will be an increasingly large part of the music scene here for a long time to come. Oh and this time next year expect a SAY Award nomination for In Awe of Nothing.

The album will be launched with a live set tonight at The Mash House in Edinburgh with A Sudden Burst of Colour and Hamish Hawk supporting. And if you like indie beer as much as you like indie music then you might want to try one of the limited edition Mt. Doubt pale ales available for £2 on the night or free if you buy a copy of the album on CD or vinyl. If it tastes as good as the music sounds, you’re in for a real treat.

This slice of highly assured songwriting is current single Afterglow:

For more on Mt. Doubt:


Breakfast MUFF are a new band to me, in fact, I only heard them the first time on Monday night on Radio Scotland when Halina Rifai, sitting in for Vic Galloway, played a track of theirs called Satan. What I have now discovered is that they are a Glasgow based trio, signed to local label Fuzzkill Records, who like ‘pizza and writing songs and dancing’, although my detective skills in uncovering these facts would hardly put Sherlock Holmes to shame.

The band have been playing a bunch of Glasgow venues such as the Old Hairdressers, Nice n Sleazys and the Glad Cafe over the past year or so. Their album, Rainbow Yawn, was released towards the end of 2015 and a few months later they were chosen as a Louder Than War New Band of the Day.

According to The Digital Fix, their music ‘skilfully blends the glam punk of New York Dolls with the melodic tones of Orange Juice’ although Satan, they claim comes ‘across as My Bloody Valentine fronted by Iggy Pop.’

Now I do like I like Breakfast MUFF’s contagious punky energy but nothing could ever be quite as amazing as an Iggy-led My Bloody Valentine, could it? Okay, maybe this time last year I’d have said an Iggy-led My Bloody Valentine with David Bowie on backing vocals.

Anyway, there’s no video for Satan but here’s one for Yr Guts instead:

Breakfast MUFF will be session guests on the Vic Galloway show on Monday (20. June). For more on the band:


Young Soul Rebels by Stuart Cosgrove


Young Soul Rebels

Readers of this blog from Scotland will likely know Stuart Cosgrove as one half of the team behind BBC Radio Scotland’s weekly football chat programme Off the Ball, which advertises itself as ‘petty and ill-informed’ and sets out to have a laugh rather than to forensically analyse topics like zonal marking that will forever remain unfathomable to me. I occasionally listen in myself even though I couldn’t name a single current St Johnstone or Motherwell player.

His previous book Detroit 67 was one of my favourite reads of last year and he’s just published another, Young Soul Rebels: A Personal History of Northern Soul.

Ever since youthful nights spent dancing at the Perth City Soul Club, Stuart Cosgrove has remained a Northern Soul fanatic – the word fan wouldn’t do his passion justice. He’s a purist too, unlike your reviewer here, who it would have to be admitted is definitely more of a tourist.

Like Detroit 67, there’s a cover that will surely catch the eye of any soulie (and many non soulies) featuring award winning dancer Steve Cootes, a painter and decorator from Penicuik. Unlike Detroit 67, this time round Stuart doesn’t start with a description of the weather (Elmore Leonard would be pleased). Instead he begins: ‘Nothing will ever compare to the amphetamine rush of my young life and the night I was nearly buggered by my girlfriend’s uncle in the Potteries.’

Throughout the book’s 279 pages, Cosgrove traces the history of the movement, exploring the world of tailor made cash-ins and cover-ups; stompers and dobbers and even Do-Dos and blueys but I like his writing best when he describes his own journey from the golden age of Wigan Casino and the Blackpool Mecca (a venue that he dubs ‘the Harvard of Northern Soul), through to the era of Cleethorpes, Stafford and Allanton all-nighters and beyond – yes, cataloguing the country’s top soul clubs across the decades can read like a list of Britain’s least fashionable towns.

Originally issued on the OKeh label, this is a favourite of Stuart’s, Sandi Sheldon with the sublime You’re Gonna Make Me Love You:

Unlike many books focussing on the subject, Cosgrove connects contemporary issues with the sounds, so as well as discussions on labels such as Okeh and Ric-Tic and DJs like Ian Levine and Richard Searling we get his thoughts on subjects such as amphetamine abuse, the Yorkshire Ripper murders and the miner’s strike, the villians of the piece being God’s cop James Anderton, Peter Sutcliffe and Margaret Thatcher.

He’s particularly good on Anderton, a Christian zealot in charge of the policing of Greater Manchester (an area that included Wigan) who embarked on a mission to stop the sanctity of the Sabbath being disturbed by young dance-goers attending all-nighters with the intention of having a good time. Interestingly, his teenage daughter was a rare soul fan but one who was obviously banned from going to all-nighters.

Again, unlike much writing on Northern Soul, Cosgrove doesn’t sanitise the scene. Here he is on Mr M’s, a club within a club at Wigan Casino: ‘It was ferociously hot, like a colonial jail, and was accessed by a small corridor about which many had anxieties. Like the men’s toilets downstairs, it was an intimidating place where rip-off merchants and drug gangs operated.’

Cosgrove peppers his tale with snippets of information that I probably should have known already: one of the reasons behind the Casino’s popularity was the fact that the town possessed two railway stations which made it accessible within a couple of hours from Motherwell to the north and from Rugby in the south; he also explains the reason why soul fans usually found a warmer welcome in seaside resorts than in cities. The rise in package holidays and subsequent economic downturn in coastal towns, in case you’re wondering.

There’s some fantastic photos here too. It’s amazing just how ordinary or even dingy these legendary venues looked – the Golden Torch was a former fleapit cinema in Tunstall, its facade lacking any vague hint of glamour or excitement. There’s also dozens of flyers and posters reproduced and plenty of pictures of records, performers and punters.

Here’s a 1973 track ‘of such earthy modernity it forced a change in dancing styles and brought about the shuffling modern northern era’. This is The Carstairs with It Really Hurts Me Girl:

Throughout the book, I was reminded why I would never have lasted long on the scene before falling foul of some soul Ayatollah or other. My musical loves are simply too wide-ranging and there’s as much chance of Stuart’s beloved St Johnstone swooping to sign Christiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale during the Euros as me ever being able to commit exclusively to one genre (or subgenre) of music for life.

‘Eclectic tastes were rarely tolerated on the northern soul scene, which by the mid seventies was hardening into a zealous sect with its own strict rules.’

When he later dared to join the staff of NME, his pal Keb Darge advised him: ‘Make sure you don’t wank yourself to death listening to the Smiths.’ This was apparently said in jest but it’s easy to imagine some degree of disapproval in the quip too. ‘Fuck off and write about Bono,’ he was later told at a 100 Club soul do.

Young Soul Rebels can be very funny, Stuart and others fuming at a Perth soul DJ for including some David Bowie in his set struck me as absurdly comical, yet there’s tragedy too, such as when he gets stuck on the London Underground for an hour on the way to a soul night. The next day he discovered the reason for the irritating delay – an IRA bomb had ripped through Harrods. And among the dead was one of his cousins.

Stuart clearly possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of his subject matter  – he even chose to study at Washington D.C.’s Howard University due to it having recently awarded an honorary doctorate to Stevie Wonder and its previous alumni including several soul stars (together with the superb crate digging opportunities the city offered) – but he does get punk slightly wrong. The Sex Pistols did often venture out of London in their early days, visiting the likes of Northallerton, Scarborough, Leeds, Middlesborough, Sheffield and even Dundee, and Sniffin’ Glue is generally accepted as the first British punk fanzine rather than Anarchy in the UK.

Young Soul Rebels concludes by bringing us up to date with films like Soul Boy and Northern Soul, Paul Mason’s Culture Show documentary, Northern sets on Mixcloud and YouTube sensation Levanna McLean, before Cosgrove meets up again with some old pals at a Perth City Soul Club reunion, where afterwards he is ‘unable to fully rationalise why a scene that should have died years before was in such rude and uncompromising health.’

Hopefully, this state of affairs continues.

To state the obvious, anybody with a love of Northern Soul should buy a copy of Young Soul Rebels (and tourists too). And it’s safe to say it will very likely be making its way on to my Best of the Year book list in around six month’s time.

Stuart is on Twitter as @Detroit67Book. He’ll be signing copies at Love Vinyl in London on Wednesday 22 June between 6-8pm, where he’ll also be spinning some tracks featured in the book. He’s also just announced an appearance at the Edinburgh Book Festival on Friday 26 August.

For more on the book click here.

This Summer & That Summer!


That Summer 1979 - quad poster

That Summer! (1979)

Director: Harley Cokeliss

Cast: Ray Winstone, Tony London, Emily Moore, Julie Shipley, Jon Morrison, Andrew Byatt & Ewan Stewart

AA Certificate on release.

Running time: 94 minutes

Into June? Check. Factor 50 required even in Scotland ? Check. Two antihistamine tablets a day? Check. Yep, summer’s here and the time is ripe for reviewing almost forgotten British film That Summer!, which one blogger has suggested might just have the best accompanying soundtrack album ever.

Billed on promotional material as ‘The Summer you’ll never forget’, most folk who saw it on its release promptly began forgetting the film the moment they stepped out of the cinema, not that many people actually did see it in their local pre-multiplex screens although I was one of the rare ones who did. In fact, I saw its premiere in Torquay, the town where it’s mostly set. Long story.

It’s rarely been shown on TV and is unavailable on DVD, officially at any rate, although it does sometimes appear on YouTube. At one point it was even assumed that it had been destroyed until director Harley Cokeliss revealed he’d kept a print which, after restoration, was able to be screened as part of a Ray Winstone retrospective at the Bradford International Film Festival in 2012.

This was one of a spate of youth oriented British films of the period such as Quadrophenia, Breaking Glass and Babylon and some even mistakenly assumed it was a loose sequel to Scum, as in the first few scenes Ray Winstone’s character is on the verge of leaving borstal.

In his biography Winstone, Nigel Goodall calls it ‘a kind of punky coming-of-age flick set by the seaside’ although, despite featuring the best known track by Richard Hell and the Voidoids, clearly none of these characters belonged to the Blank Generation, the bland generation maybe – I can easily imagine the two girls from Leeds who find jobs as chambermaids in the Imperial Hotel, dancing round their handbags together to some bad disco in the 400 Club.

So, the plot. Well, after his spell inside, young Londoner, Steve Brodie, returns home to a grim, concrete estate but decides to get out pronto, hoping to take part in some long distance swimming events off the shores of Devon and Cornwall. He hitches to Torquay and lands a job as a potman in the Pickwick – which is a real boozer and one where I enjoyed some underage pints back in the day.

Also making their way to the so-called English Riviera are the two girls – Carole (Emily Moore) and Angie (Julie Shipley) – who are escaping from their lives as factory wage slaves, as well as Jimmy (Tony London) who desperately wants a break from working in his old man’s butcher’s shop and gets it by hiring out floats and pedalos on the beach.

Added into the equation are a trio of obnoxious, devious and downright nasty Glaswegian neds led by Tam (Jon Morrison). Upon spotting Brodie playing pinball in an amusement arcade, they immediately start picking on him and what would you know, a shot shows the back of Tam’s silk bomber jacket with GOVAN SWIMMING CLUB emblazoned on it, so it looks like he’s going to be taking part in the same ’round the harbour’ race as Brodie.

That Summer stills

I’m guessing I don’t need to tell you much more, there will be conflict surrounding the race and there will obviously be romance too.

The plot of That Summer could never be described as unpredictable and most of the characters lean towards stereotypes – the Northern gals are astonished by how grand it is down south as if this is the era of Gracie Fields and George Formby, while the Scots barely exist outside of some utterly negative caricatures.

The script really could have benefited from just a little subtlety.

On the plus side, Torbay is an inspired choice of setting and, for me at least, there is a certain nostalgic thrill seeing settings like Oddicombe Beach, Torquay Harbour and even Babbacombe Model Village onscreen.

That Summer 2 stills

The cast does contain some very fine actors. I doubt Martin Scorcese cast Winstone in The Departed for his portrayal of Brodie, though he does make the most of a limited role. Strangely enough, at the following year’s BAFTA Awards, Winstone earned an nomination for Best Newcomer, despite the fact that 1979 also saw him star in Scum, surely a far better performance on every count but then again, one year the Oscar for Best Film went to Forrest Fucking Gump rather than Pulp Fiction.

Jon Morrison also does well enough even if he’s nowhere near the startling form he showed in the Peter McDougall penned Prix Italia winning Just Another Saturday, a Play for Today from 1975 considered so controversial at the time that certain scenes were not allowed to be filmed in Glasgow.

Andy Byatt (George) and Ewan (Stu) both went on to bigger and better things. Byatt had a part in Radio On, another 1979 film with a great soundtrack, although he’s best known for acting alongside Harvey Keitel in another Peter McDougall BBC Scotland drama, 1988’s Down Where the Buffalo Go; Stewart was later superbly menacing in the Edinburgh set druggie drama, Looking After Jo Jo.

Some years later Tony London went on to play Steve Jones in Alex Cox’s Sid and Nancy while Emily Moore and Julie Shipley are hampered by their cliched dialogue and neither seems to have acted for a long time now.

Released by Arista, the soundtrack album was a collection of sixteen punk and new wave gems with one of the tracks, New Life by Glasgow band Zones, written especially for the movie. There’s The Only Ones with Another Girl, Another Planet; Mink DeVille with Spanish Stroll and Wreckless Eric’s classic Whole Wide World for starters. There’s also (I’m taking a deep breath here) Ian Dury, Elvis Costello, Ramones, Patti Smith Group, Boomtown Rats, Undertones, Eddie & the Hot Rods and Nick Lowe with the album compiler wisely ignoring the dated library style music that is used mostly during swimming scenes, as well as sole slice of disco, Boogie Nights. Here is New Life:

Sadly the songs, no matter how good they are, only occasionally grab you and lift the film. We get a lazy attitude to the combination of sound and visuals that seldom enhance one another the way, say, Martin Scorcese managed to do with his Super Eight footage during the opening credits of Mean Streets with Be My Baby. Here, as the various characters make their way to the West Country we get New Life; a snatch of Rockaway Beach accompanies a shot of Brodie on the beach, and the morning after sex, we see Angie rushing into work late to the sound of The Boomtown Rats’ She’s So Modern.

That Summer was advertised at the time as being ‘AT CINEMAS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY THIS SUMMER’ paired in a double bill along with spy movie Billion Dollar Threat. As I said earlier, it wasn’t rolled out to any great extent and few saw it, although I did manage to discover it did get at least one outing in Paisley.

Perhaps it would have fared better if it had come out just after the cinematic version of Scum when Winstone’s star was on the rise, rather than a month before it, although it didn’t really deserve that wide a release anyway at a time when far superior films like The Deer Hunter, The Warriors and The China Syndrome were all doing the rounds along with money-spinners like Moonraker.

That Summer Caledonian ad

If I was to award stars out of five, the film would get two although the various artists compilation album would get the full five.

If you liked this try: Nil By Mouth (1997) directed by Gary Oldman. A grim watch but Winstone and co-star Kathy Burke are both excellent. And Jon Morrison makes an appearance too. Frustratingly, today Winstone seems to spend more time making ads for online gambling companies than putting in the kind of performance he is capable of, such as his turn here as Raymond or as Gal Dove in Sexy Beast.