We as a community tend to forget that this music stems from a world vastly different to that of ours. The experiences of African Americans in the rural Southern states of the USA and the factories and ghettoes of Detroit back in the 60’s just cannot be related to working class Britons however much we may kid ourselves that they can, but nowadays we see it as `our’ music and want to exclude anything which doesn’t fit into our own narrow concept of soul. It can never be our music, we only borrow it from all those great artistes who put that feeling into their music and turn it into true soul. The great strength of this book is that Reg actually understands this, and he honestly admits that he enjoys soul across the board regardless of whatever little labels we as a fraternity love to put on this music. He hasn’t claimed anywhere that it’s a book about Northern soul, modern soul, crossover soul, jazzfunk or any other of those pedantic pigeon holes so beloved of the typical UK soul fan. It’s simply a book about Reg’s personal `Search For Soul’, and if you approach it with a degree of open-mindedness I’m sure you will appreciate it.
`Searching For Soul’ is written in a refreshingly down to earth style which really does add to its entertainment value, avoiding all of the literary clichés which would have been evident had a ghost writer been employed to do the job. It’s a book from the heart by a passionate fan who knows his subject intimately, and as such I would have no hesitation in recommending it to any true music lover regardless of the genre you like – you will identify with much of what’s in these pages anyway.
There’s a great quote credited to the late James Brown which goes something like `Soul music….if I have to explain it to you then you wouldn’t understand’. Hopefully this book will help you to understand us `soulies’ a little better.
As a Northern Soul fan from the 70’s it was great to re-live the memories that are so wonderfully described by Reg, an ordinary man with an extraordinary passion for the music. It is a little gem, this book. His recollections not only about the music, but the venues and the fashions of the time are so vivid and detailed that it enabled me to experience that `feel good factor’ I had all those years ago. Any true Northern Soul fan’s heart will rejoice with him by reading and sharing his particular story and can reflect upon their own past experiences.
I was once told `you can never go back’. Although we all know we can never return to those halcyon days, Reg will tell you it is still possible to follow your love of this music in the modern era and that many still do. Perhaps there’s hope for me yet….
Reading Reg’s story of a soulful life, and all it’s personal & music filled glory is a happy experience. An easy to understand tale of growing up in the south of England, with it’s many trips up north purely for the music, and people around the music. You are always wondering what will happen in this book, so much so that you will find it hard to put down once you have started. Do not expect a full on ‘records only’ type of reference book, no this is the tale of growing up from a boy to a man while enjoying two of England’s best music happenings, northern soul & caisters/jazzfunk. All the personal memories of people, places & conversations are what this book is about, and by the end you can feel like you know some of Reg’s friends personally yourself! You might recognise similar story’s to some in your own life, and this is what makes you keep on reading this book, as it’s more than just Reg’s life, it’s everybody’s life. And as the man says “You get out of life, what you put in.” Truly Inspiring, cheers Reg!!
There are people that some of the time view life through rose tinted glasses. Our dear Reg Stickings appears to live his whole life in a rose tinted bubble.
Now, this is in no way an insult; many people on the soul scene could do with living their lives in the same way Reg does. I was heart-warmingly stunned by his generous nature, his multitude of friends and his passion for the music he adores.
Like many he started out absorbing the great sound of Northern Soul back in the early 70’s and meandered across the line into the Jazz Funk scene and back again to his beloved Soul.
His book oozes positivity. I can liken him to a jam doughnut! A gooey sickly sweet centred man who leaves sugar on your lips that you just can’t help but lick off before taking another bite!
Not a man to hide his emotions and one who proudly shouts to the world about records some collectors and soul fans joyfully take the piss out of. To Reg, each and every record he owns is another pearl in his big oyster.
We’re taken through sometimes turbulent periods in his life spanning from a young school boy to the well rounded man of substance he is today.
A lot of what he wrote, I saw in myself. From the brushing off of other peoples perception about what clothes you should wear to the out and out excitement of attending his next soul night.
His enthusiasm is boundless and unhindered by egotism – how refreshing! I particularly loved his remark about champagne lifestyles with lemonade pockets. That really sums up my own predicament really and it made me smile. In fact, much of the book made me smile.
He describes his visits to a number of ‘clubs’ over 30 years ago and more, with a vividness not many of us at our age are capable of memory wise, and I’m sure this will help others conjure up their own personal memories and bring smiles to their faces and conversations in the future. Reading between the lines (although this isn’t necessary for the most part because he’s so open) I wallowed in his pride for being part of our wonderful soul scene and indeed for the lifelong friendships he’s made along the way.
I can’t imagine, in a million years, that anyone could say anything remotely negative about Reg Stickings. Even when I phoned him to place an order he was so adorable. He also took the trouble to call me a few days later to confirm that I’d received my package! Caring seems to be Reg’s middle name and he should take pride in that.
This book may not win any literary prizes but in my eyes he’s done something very special of which he should be very proud indeed.
I’ve not met Reg myself but I sure hope I do soon!
Graham “The Hat” Martin – DJ
PS Would have given it 4.9 but Amazon don’t let you do that – 5’s are reserved for JRR Tolkien 😉
I found this book an amazing read. I almost felt I was being taken by the hand to a place where we can all say we wanted to be, it’s like when you hear of the stories of love, pain and laughter that people tell and you feel you wish you had been a part of it. Reg has a heartfelt way of sharing his passion for the sounds of soul that so many of us can relate to. We are also taken on a journey of dreams and determination. As I read ‘Searching for Soul’ I found myself back in a time when music was important to so many of us. I couldn’t help but smile as I read through the list of sounds that had slipped my mind, thinking wow I remember that brilliant sound. It made me take out my old records dust them off and chill while I listened. Thank you for sharing your life of music so far……I say so far because I hope there will be more to come. I had tears of sadness and felt the loss of loved ones too. You know you made me think how lucky we all are we could follow the love for music so much easier than some can today…….I guess we have computers and mobiles to thank for that! I take my hat off to Reg he let me in on an experience that I had never been on. Although I was in my teens in the 70s and loved music. I never went to Wigan or the wonderful places the story takes us through but I feel that I have been there, even smelt the blood sweat and tears and felt that talc on the bouncing floor….through the eyes of a person who has such a passion for his music which he can relate to chapters of his life like I do with a photo album. Thank you for sharing your story told with good honest passion.
One more thing to add you are an encouragement to everyone who has ever been told, and people yet to be told, that they will not do well by our wonderful education system! For someone who can openly admit that reading and writing have been a struggle and to go on and achieve this book you are truly AMAZING – well done.
A brilliant read that I couldn’t put down – Thanks for the tears, love and laughter.
Elaine – John’O’Groats – Scotland – If you have not read this yet – go on treat yourself