Tuesday, 26 April 2011
Wigan's Chosen Few - Footsee (1975/ No. 9/ 11 weeks/ Pye)
A curious record indeed. The Northern Soul scene of the 1970s consisted of high-tempo soul records of the 1960s being played to cognoscenti audiences of frenetic and participatory dancers, and was an absolutely massive movement in the north and midlands of England, but one that happened largely away from the eyes of the media and press. The most famous club was the Wigan Casino, although each one had its own rival set of DJs and particular take on the music. In being based around imported records - and generally pretty old ones at that - a cachet surrounded a lot of these songs that came from their rarity and obscurity, real insiders' music.
However, once somebody managed to track the rights to these songs and managed to reissue them, they managed to become bona fide chart hits. There were a lot of these for a few years in the mid-1970s, often great Billy favourites; I'm Gonna Run Away From You, Heaven Must Have Sent You, Here I Go Again, Sweet Talkin' Guy, You're Ready Now...
Footsee is a strange one, though. It is, in essence, a bootleg. An anonymous Canadian record dealer, Simon Soussan, managed to source a copy of an obscure mid-sixties beat instrumental by the actual Chosen Few, and elected to modify it, I would imagine to claim co-composer royalties. So the horn section is taped over with the sound of kazoos, and the thing is madly overdubbed with cheering crowd noises and "Ah yeah"s. Most strikingly, at one point the whole thing stops, replaced with a cut and pasted blaring klaxon and roaring crowd, sampled from the 1966 Wembley FA Cup final.
As you might expect, such a meretricious exercise enraged purists, especially when a troupe of anonymous dancers appeared on Top Of The Pops to promote the record. The peculiarity of the project makes it gloriously compelling to me, though, and it precisely capture the very particular excitement of hearing a favourite record being played in a club.