Allanton Sunset


Some folks were lucky enough to attend legendary music venues like the Twisted Wheel or the Warehouse in Chicago; some cats got on down at The Flamingo Club, The Wheel, The Mecca, Stafford,Wigan etc. My legendary soul music location was ‘Shotts’ in Allanton Lanarkshire, Scotland.
For this skinny working class teenager in the 80s Allanton was to become my soul capitol of the world, although I’d never heard of the place that only added to the mystery that was Northern Soul. Allanton was not a glamorous or slick location for many but the very mention of the name sends the shivers doon my spine right to this day.

I caught the soul bug around early on in life, it was part of the language growing up in Dundee, you heard it at youth clubs,disco's etc it wasnt hard be converted, cos the music is quite simply astounding. I felt an an instant connection to this sound, the style of it all the mystery and in particular with the artists making the music.

Logo for new project 2014

My girlfreind Lynn and I attended our first Ruff Cut Soul Club all niters at 16 years old in 1987, we had heard about Allanton at an All niter up in Aberdeen the previous week and I was informed of a bus that leaves from Aberdeen picking up Dundee folk on the way. The all niter Scene was new to me yet I was already into collecting soul records I had a thing for the Sue label I had big sue labels painted on my bedroom wall, soul music and knowledge of soul became a massive obsession , I can remember swapping records to my mate Brian Wilson for a Richard Domar record sales list when I was about 14, this wee list was like bible for learning the names of artists and record labels, it was virtualy impossible to get any information on soul music back in the 80s , it was all word of mouth, attending all niters soul nights, looking in record shops, buying tunes, swapping C90 tapes, studying names on the records, that was how you learned about soul music back in the good old olden days.


Roabie, Briggsy , Wee Jimmy Broon on the Allanton Soul Express 1987

The Dundee crew (mostly young crowd early twenties/ late teens) would meet at The Unicorn pub (A carbon copy of Arthur Daily’s local) to await the ‘Aberdeen/Dundee/ Soul Express’ to Shotts.
This was 1987, northern soul wasn’t as fashionable as it was in the 70s especially 60s Northern soul, the music was back underground, Allanton was not a tribute night to some old soul venue it was rare soul music tsunami, it was about the undiscovered, the underplayed, it had its own kinda sound, Some called it newies I called it heaven, yet it was an important period in rare soul’s club evolution.

The romance of the pilgrimage is an understated part of loving soul music, it's a spiritual feelin', memories of the journey, the anticipation of youth, a mix of fear and adrenalin. The journey is a crucial part of Soul Life, soul nights, service stations and dodgy Little Chefs have entirely alternative meaning to soul folk they are catalysts for memories of soul travels and pit stops past with a soundtrack to melt your DNA.

I loved hearing new tunes on the coach provided on C-90 tapes on route to the All niter was such an exciting for a newbie, the conversations were all about this music " whas heard "Jimmy Ellis .... or I hope he plays 'Moody and the Deltas'...
Most of the folk that travelled were working class , there wasn’t a lot of money or jobs in Dundee, I was on a YTS earning £28.50 a week. I had to save up for this, everyone on the coach were always very friendly which was a unexpected I quickly became lifelong friends with many of those cats.

Poster Art/custom font for Limited Edition Box Set

I couldn't eat food the week before going to Shotts the excitement was too much, to say I loved this all niter was a massive understatement. I can remember my first night, the atmosphere, the sound, the impact of the music quality hits you like a square on boot in the puss! Boom! The high ceiling only enhanced the music adding that classic reverb to the acoustics ,Youre first steps into the hall you l see a stars n stripes flag thinking…yes! these guys love soul. I always remember thinking after going to Shotts that soul all niters played the ultimate in rare Mod music , it wasnt a mod nite tho but it was.
I remember being dumbstruck at the jaw dropping quality this music in this setting, this was not a tribute night,it was pure and simple a love of sou lmusic that was a driving dynamic, 98% of the tunes were new to me, eventually tunes would become familiar through regular attendance and C90 tape swapping. I always felt totally at home in this place, if you bumped into anyone it was alaways no worries nice to meet you, a cracking vibe.

Allanton in full swing

One thing I remember was that people dressed impeccably at Shotts, that stood out . There was a distinct look at the time which was like a 40s/50s vintage style, high wasted tapered baggies worn with Byford style tops, shirts collars over a dress jackets, Ripped Levis 501 jeans, docs, loafers, oxfords, plenty of Brylcream, Blazers, people made an effort to dress well it was very stylish and smart, Allanton also attracted some mod and skin cats in dapper fine tailored gear and button downs.

There was great anticipation of Colin Law’s sets among the travelling Dundee crew .I never knew any of the tunes at first but it didn’t stop me hitting the floor all nite, Colin Law was a passionate soulie whose dance floor Encouragements became legendary at Allanton. Keb Darge was another great personality on the decks and over the mike, his charismatic sets stood out for me, I loved dancing to his brand of northern Soul – it was fast, tuff, bluesy, funky even. All the DJs were very good I dug all them cats, each DJ had their own style and taste, it was all about the tunes, it was so unique, and that’s why it was so dam good.

Thanks to everyone involved in making The Ruff Cut Allniters happen, the DJs, Record Dealers, and punters traveling from England and every where. I was inspired here to get into DJing and collecting rare soul music. I was impressed by a lot of the older DJs Record Dealers etc. having time for a young enthusiastic soul fans making C90 tapes etc. In particular Alan Walls, Brian Welsh, Foxy, Hosie, Blondie, Stewart Spence Big Harry.
Shotts all niters laid strong foundations for a lifetime’s obsession for collecting, dancing to, and enjoying quality underground black music, I am so glad to have exprienced Allanton.

There was a great turnover of mesmerizing soul music played at Allanton, some of these sounds that have became part of Northern Folklore. I’ve made a list of the big tunes I remember being played at Allanton (there’s so much more I don’t know, please get in touch if you know any more tunes), to my shame I only learned of ‘The Magnetics- When I’m with my baby’ a couple of years ago, that was a huge Allanton sound, its chorus was lodged in my brain for the last 20 odd years, I found it via a search engine typing in the lyrics i.e. ‘I don’ need money, just my baby etc ’ hey prestoz.

*The Blinding Allanton Sunset, Jim and Hosie, Tam Taylor and Ricky? Allanton Soul Express

Soul Clans and Allniter Venues of Scotland © 2015

33 Allanton Classics

The Phonetics – Just a Boys dream-Trudel
Gino Washington- Now your Lonely-WIG
Gino Washington - When You’re Lonely-Creed
Big Ella-Too hot to hold-Salem
Geno Washington - Ill be around- Abet
Jimmy Ellis-Put it on your mind-Salem
The Volumes –My road is the right road-Inferno
The Volumes –Baby You Got it-Inferno
Jamo Thomas-Stop the Bairn-Conlo
Collins and Collins-Tap oh the stairs-am
Irma Thomas-Don’t Mess with my man-Ron
Linda Griner-goodbye cruel love-Motown
The Delegates of Soul-Ill keep running back –up look
JNR Parker- I got Money-Blue Rock
The Magnetics-When I’m with my baby-Sable
Towanda Barnes-You didn’t mean it-Groovy
The Imaginations- Strange neighborhood-fraternity
The Fantastic 4- Im gonna live up to what she thinks-Ric Tic
Dottie and Millie- Nothing in this world-Topper
Pat and the Blenders -Just because-Fast Eddie
The Phonetics- Pretty Girl-Trudel
Troy Marrs- The Rhythm Message-Sure shot
Mark 4 and Shades of Soul- If you cat tell me something good-Brite Lite
Flowers-for Real
Sam Dees- Lonely for ya-SSS
The Rotations – Put a dime on D9-Frantic
Jack Montgomery- Dearly Beloved-Scepter
Little Charles and the Sidewinders- Talking Bout you Babe-Decca
Charles Johnson- Never had a love so good-Alston
The Commands- I’ve got love for my baby-dynamic
Jimmy Bo Horne – I can’t speak-Dade
Margie Joseph- One more chance –Volt
Jackie Wilson- Because of you-Brunswick

Allanton Miners Welfare Hall All niters and the 'Aberdeen Soul Express' became the inspiration behind a limited edition set of prints and clear vinyl release. Showcased as part of an exhibition for the Impact International Print festival in 2013. Many Thanks

Mark Wallace 2014

The Shotts Story

*Images ©Joe Laidlaw

home page