(The Miracles – Way Over There)
Today I would like to take the opportunity and quote from a top ranking piece of critique on the subject of Modernist by a Cat named Johnny Spencer who lived through as well as observed the changing face of London during the early Sixties.
“In London during the early sixties as in other parts of the British Isles a tiny minority of young, (mostly working class), boys and girls known only to themselves as ‘Modernists’ were walking, talking, dressing and dancing to a different song. These youngsters who were conceived in the heady and delirious optimism that marked the end of WW II had passed onto them in their genes a very real sense of supremecy, invincibility and confidence, a confidence that was fuelled and underpinned by the meta narrative of the western world, the concept of modernity, then at it’s zenith. By the early 1960’s the social fabric of cities in England had changed radically from the period before 1945, the war had dealt attitudes of authority and deference a mortal blow, conscription had ended, and the young en masse for the first time found themselves with a realistic disposable income. With history on their side this generation of independently minded teenagers felt able to think and act for themselves, not in a quasi-intellectual way as the ‘beatnicks’ had done, or to have to rebel, like the ‘Teddy Boys’, but as a truly autonomous entity.”
The musicology is courtesy of modernist icons ‘The Miracles’, (Smokey Robinson, Bobby Rogers, Marv Tarplin, Ronald White and Claudette Rogers), whose unique and distinctive sound epitomised the emerging sound that became known as Soul. The cut that was BIG on the London scene was in fact the second version, (with strings), but in the essence of ‘Modernist’ I had to lay this, (regional) one, (without strings), on you. Recorded for and released in 1960 on Motown.
(The Miracles – Mickey’s Monkey)
another slice from the 1963 selection, the year that ‘Mod’ grew out of various shadows to establish it as more than a handful of ‘dressers’/stylists/modernists into a movement. Same year that the (New) Scene opened it’s doors in Ham Yard, (Soho), to become the premier London club and forum for all things ‘mod’ and hip in the capital.
The cut is delivered in fine style by legendary Detroit vocal group The Miracles with William ‘Smokey’ Robinson on lead supported by Bobby Rogers, Marv Tarplin, childhood friend and, (along with Smokey), former 5 Chimes member Ronald White and female vocalist Claudette Rogers. The Miracles paved the way for Motown’s success in the early sixties with cuts like ‘Shop Around’, ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’ and this one apoun which the Berry Gordy empire was built.
(Jimmy Ruffin – What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted)
A song that we, (should), all know delivered with pathos by one of the great Soul singers about a subject that is plainly close to my heart. Older brother of the Temptation’s member David, Jimmy hasn’t received the acclaim he deserves. This version, (the original), has the spoken intro which was removed for the final mix that made it onto the 45, (can’t understand why?)
Lyrics by James Dean, music composed by William Weatherspoon and Paul Riser, music played by the Funk Brothers, background vocals by The Originals, (Freddie Gorman, Walter Gaines, Hank Dixon, Joe Stubbs), and the Adantes, (Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow, Louvain Demps), song produced by Weatherspoon and William Stevenson.
(Gino Parkes – Fire)
after the ‘reunion’ at the public baths with old ‘spar’ Kevin, Jimmy has been to a party, been seen getting off with a girl, (purely for some ‘blues’), by the object of his affection and desire, (Steph), and has for the first time begun to question ‘what it’s all about’
this next, (key), section of dialogue finds Kevin, (the rocker), turning up at Jimmy’s family home on a social visit and offering to fix his ‘poxy hair-dryer’, (scooter), which leads to a great piece of acting and communication between the two childhood friends about ‘being different’. the reality is, (of course), that they are exactly the same and Kevin, (played majestically by Ray Winstone), nails this with the closing line…
What struck me about the film was the way it portrayed the disillusionment of the movement as well as it’s depiction of the ‘Mod’ attitude, (captured in fine style by Phil Daniels as ‘Jimmy’), and it’s in this exchange that it is laid bare.
the music is a 1962 cut from Detroit, courtesy of Soul singer Gino Parkes, (not forgetting the cats behind the Motown sound, the ‘Funk Brothers’), with a rare slice of the Motown pie. can’t say for sure whether it was played back then but if not, it should and probably would have been if known about.