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Reaching Different Shores. Subculture Rediscovery of The Tempests - E. Mark Windle.

More than a decade on from the release of The Tempests' Would You Believe LP and break-up of the original recording band, important life events had taken over. Day-job careers, university education, the armed services and raising families; the musical activities of their youth were becoming distant memories for many of the former Tempests members. 

Across the Atlantic, the love of soul music from an earlier era remained. It would be safe to comment that, at one point at least, mainstream America was oblivious to the enduring popularity of old blues and soul in other parts of the globe. The Belgian popcorn scene features an appreciation of a mix of lesser known jazz, blues and soul records. Old R&B and swamp blues singers form the US were being plucked from obscurity and transported to the live blues scene of Scandinavia and Holland. A loyal market for deep soul and southern soul music could also be found in Holland and Japan. For The Tempests, little did they know the music they made would gain a new lease of life through re-discovery by a vibrant underground youth subculture in the UK.

The Would You Believe LP remained virtually unnoticed in the UK until early 1983 when certain tracks from it were championed by UK collectors and DJs. Would You Believe broke the mould of 45rpm favouritism in many ways especially as two of the tracks, Someday and I Don’t Want To Lose Her, were unavailable on 45 format. These tracks with their rhythmic yet moody mid temp pace suited the mid 1980s northern soul scene perfectly, as it embraced beat ballads and mid-tempo dancers. The origins of how the record was popularised at Stafford op of the World All-nighters lay with collector Martin Meyler from Crewe:

“I was a regular at the 100 Club around the same time as the demise of the Wigan Casino all-nighters and had become quite friendly with a bunch of lads I travelled with to soul music events, including DJ Keb Darge. I reckon I have a pretty good ear for music but didn’t have the money for the big 45s at the time. Nobody was really interested in LPs then – they were too bulky to carry around venues for one thing. However for me, they were affordable. I was acutely aware that there might be other great recordings hidden away on an LP that otherwise wouldn’t see the light of day. I knew some of the collectors from Stoke who travelled over to the States for vinyl, and asked them to bring back LPs. Some good, some hippie crap. Anyway, I ended up with The Tempests LP that way, and was astounded by the content and the lead singer’s vocal presence. A few phone calls were made to check things out regarding how well known it was on this side of the Atlantic. Whilst the Smash 45s may have been known among a few collectors, they had never really been played out to my knowledge, and nobody seemed to know the LP or the Someday track. Maybe it was by-passed as the tempo was not right for Wigan Casino at the time. All I knew was I was onto a good thing and that Someday really deserved to be played out to an audience. As I wasn’t a DJ, I gave the LP to Keb Darge with the intention of some exposure on the soul scene.”

Legendary DJs Keb Darge and Guy Hennigan were well known for their friendly rivalry on and off the decks. They are among the key individuals associated with the phoenix-like rise of the northern soul scene when it was at its ebb around the time when Wigan Casino eventually closed its doors. This period was characterised by the acceptance of more diverse tempos and sub-genres; certainly inclusive of what the scene was previously known for, but also embracing related musical styles such as latin-soul, contemporary releases and raw early 1960s R&B. Guy recounts how Someday was presented to the wider northern soul scene:

“Martin gave it to Keb to cut an acetate of Someday from it. Keb turned up at my flat in Derby on the Friday night before Stafford all-nighter with the cut. As normal, over the next twenty-four hours we did some swaps and sales. Part of the deal involved me getting another cut of The Tempests. I suggested to Keb to cover up the recording up as Bobby Paris, and to play it that night at the Top of the World. However.…I was on before him that night. We used to switch around on DJ spot timings. Not only did I play Keb’s copy of the disc…I played it twice. It went massive that night, just off those couple of plays. Even though Keb played it later in his spot, I got the credit for breaking it. It was a very competitive period between DJs then, in particular between Keb and I. But I can justify my sharp trick of stealing Dargie’s thunder on that one, with the simple fact it sounded so much better after I’d introduced it! Ha…you know what, he has never really forgiven me to this day!”

I Don’t Want To Lose Her was also later played out on the northern soul scene, covered up as Cecil Washington. The LP remains a popular and in-demand item, fetching ever-increasing prices at auction and on rare soul sales forums. Since its original discovery, white demo copies have also appeared, stereo and mono formats, and a European release. The Dutch manufactured Phillips LP carried the same cover but with a title change to Well-Tempered Soul, and appears to be intended for Dutch, German and possibly a wider European market. The existence of a transatlantic release was unknown to most of the band members. UK based Poker Records would also reissue the LP as a CD format in 2007, including their Smash single releases to the album tracks for completists.

The existence of a 45-rpm format of Someday was deemed mythological; the track was never issued as a Smash single. Therefore the latter-day discovery of an original Mercury acetate by DJ / collector and record dealer Alan Kitchener has created a high degree of interest within the northern soul community in recent years:

“Being an avid follower of the newly discovered 1960s revolution which re-kindled my passion for the soul scene in the early eighties, The Tempests song Someday summed up the direction of the scene at that time: on hearing Guy Hennigan then Keb Darge playing it, and Guy coming clean on the whole story some years later. Guy was correct in that he could really introduce a new record like no one else on the decks. Initially I thought Someday was a strong, pounding tune that was perfect for the dancefloor but after a couple of listens you realise it is so much more than that. When the secret was out regarding the true artist and record, I managed to get a copy from a record fair in the USA while on a record hunting trip. I still have the same LP to this day. I did always think to myself ‘If only this came out as a single’ or ‘there must be an acetate somewhere’. Carrying an album around to DJ with was too much of a ball-ache and cutting it to a dub by then seemed a little dirty, so I dreamed on. Around 2007 or 2008, I bought a few acetates off an individual on eBay. He had purchased an estate from an undisclosed record label owner and producer. I had bought the first of what turned out to be two copies of Dee Dee Warwick’s Worth Every Tear I Cry (DJ Mark ‘Butch’ Dobson grabbing the other one later) on a lovely Mercury 7-inch acetate. A real thing of beauty. I had asked him about any other interesting pieces he may have been listing. A few weeks later after my Dee Dee Warwick acetate had arrived it wasn’t as good condition as he had originally described. After I politely pointed this out, he agreed and said he owed me a favour on anything else I bought. Low and behold a couple of weeks later a lovely Mercury acetate entitled Someday, and on the B side, I Cried For You (also from the LP) appeared in his eBay listings. No artist was credited on the labels but it was pretty obvious who it was on listening. After a quick email conversation it was confirmed. By then the Soul Source online discussion forum curtain twitching had already begun, speculating how much it would go for. I thought it better to seize the chance, so I emailed him reminding him of the favour he owed. He agreed to do a deal on the acetate and remove the eBay listing. It was sold to me for a very fair price and a couple of weeks later it was in my hands. The acetate version has a slightly different intro, and to my ears a much cleaner production. So, one happy collector. I’m not surprised about the longevity of this recording. It had all the qualities of a northern soul classic and has become just that. It is still filling dancefloors all over the world to this day and deservedly so; at the same time a great record in its own right for collectors. As good as any record played on the soul scene in its long history.”

Excerpt from the book The Tempests: A Carolina Soul Story by E. Mark Windle. Available to order from the new book section.

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