(5 / 5)
A massively popular singer on the Northern Soul scene, still today 13 years after his death. One of the most popular soul/R&B singers out of Chicago, enjoying a string of hits for the legendary OKeh Records across the 1960s.
Early classics such as “The Monkey Time”, “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um”, “Hey Little Girl” and “The Matador” resulted from the patronage of Lance’s good friend, the legendary Curtis Mayfield, producer Carl Davis and arranger Johnny Pate.
Lance was also popular with British audiences, his stylish persona attracting the admiration of 60s Mods. Although his hits lessened as the 60s wore on, the quality of his output remained high, and later singles such as “Investigate”, “Ain’t No Soul (In These Old Shoes)” and “You Don’t Want Me No More” were popular on the Northern Soul scene of the early 1970s.
This prompted Major Lance to visit the UK, playing to adoring audiences and resulting in an album, “Live At The Torch”, the world famous all-nighter soul club in Stoke-On-Trent, which was actually called The Golden Torch. It was here and the venue on Wigan Pier in Lancashire, that Northern Soul was born.
A record store owner in London coined the phrase Northern Soul when lots of football fans would flood London to go see their home team play away, and pop in to ask for obscure soul records. The staff got used to these buyers every weekend but did not know how to file the records in the racks, so as they were from “ooop North” and wanted soul stuff, he suggested they use Northern Soul as the genre. Then when the shop boss wrote for a soul music magazine, and mentioned this new genre in print, it stuck.
The Stoke venue was a former cinema, a luxury nightclub opened there 1963. Designed to hold 500 people, it attracted more than 1500 at the height of its success. It closed in 1972, and the venue burned down later. There is a plaque on the site now to mark the spot of this world famous soul club where many of the biggest US soul stars appeared, including Lance and his full US band, Doris Tory, The O Jays and Edwin Starr. Lance continued to record in the States and enjoyed a career renaissance as part of the 80s Beach Music scene. He died in 1994.
A total of 53 tracks, 27 + 26, “Ain’t No Soul (In These Old Shoes)” is the first-ever compilation to boast Major Lance’s entire output for OKeh Records between 1963 and 1967, including eleven tracks which are new to CD. The booklet contains detailed sleeve-notes and period labels, record sleeves photos and cuttings.
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’