Sunday, June 14, 2015

Cleethorpes Northern Soul Weekender

Northern Soul show organiser Ady Croasdell has a habit of attracting excellent and relatively obscure soul acts to his weekenders and this year's Cleethorpes Weekender was no exception with not one but two fine performers for the Saturday highlight.

First on was Jock Mitchell, a popular soul singer in Florida where he now lives, who proved to be a great showman with a soulful voice and superb stage act. He is best known among Northern fans for his mid 60s record Not A Chance In A Million, with which he closed his act and also reprised as an encore, but he
showed that he has a lot more to offer than just that one hit. He recorded variously as Arnold Mitchell, Jake Mitchell and Jake and the Soul Searchers, his first record Turn On Your Love Light, along with You Can Make It If You Try, appearing on the Philadelphia based Newtown label. I was surprised to find that I have the record in my collection and can confirm that it was recorded under the name of Arnold, not Arthur Mitchell, as the show programme suggested.
Jock came on stage wearing a white suit and cape and kicked off with his 1966 recording I Got To Know before moving on to Turn On Your Love Light. It was clear that he has a super voice and knows how to handle a crowd as he moved on to the slower No Mad Woman, recorded on his own Golden Hit label, before doing a soulful version of Hank Ballard's Work Me With Annie, which he also recorded, this time on Impact.
His soul credentials were underlined with a stunning version of I Found A Love, which saw Jock crawl on the floor in deep soul pain, only to be helped to his feet and covered by a cape James Brown style by his sax player. Finally it was the Northern soul favourite Not A Chance A Million, which got the crowd singing along.

If we thought that was the highlight of the evening we were mistaken, as there was much more to come with the arrival on stage of singer/songwriter Sharon McMahan. Looking very elegant in a red dress she began with That's What You Do For Me, a song she wrote for Deon Jackson, moving on to Some Day We're Gonna Love Again, first recorded by Barbara Lewis and later covered by the Searchers. Another Barbara Lewis song - Straighten Up Your Heart - followed (written, she said, when she was just 14), and then one of her own numbers Got To Find Another Guy, recorded for Ollie McLaughlin's Karen label on the same day as the Capitols' Cool Jerk. Next came the bluesy I Have No Choice, written for Johnnie Mae Matthews, Where There Is Love, Get Out Of My Life, recorded for Columbia in 1973, and finally I Can't Go On, a terrific track originally recorded by Deon Jackson - a song she said she had never sung on stage before.
Jock finished with his reprise of Not A Chance In a Million and was joined on stage by Sharon: two excellent and very soulful singers. It was a short set, barely an hour in all, but the seven piece band, along with two backing singers, did a great job and both artists deserved the tremendous reception they received. Yet another Northern Soul triumph.
Nick Cobban
Here is Sharon singing Straighten Up Your Heart.
And this is Jock Mitchell with Not A Chance In A Million.


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