It would appear that ‘Northern Soul’ the movie has been directed by, and with the assistance of, people steeped in the experience which has led to a loving portrait of a scene, although over 30 years old, still keeps the faith for many.
If only the same could be said of ‘Absolute Beginners’ which although did not have an instantly identifiable ‘movement’ like NS when it was made, was riding on the crest of the jazz dance resurgence across the UK. Instead the result was a ham-fisted compilation of musical numbers you would expect to see on MTV giving very little of what the original book was about.
So, after re-reading Colin Macinnes’ London trilogy I feel was unduly harsh on this novel when I first read it many moons ago, and in keeping with it here’s an alternative soundtrack minus Bowie, Sade, Ray Davies etc. but with a bucketful of tunes that accompanied the rise of the late ’50’s teenager in addition to what the hero of AB tries to describe :
“And that’s what jazz music gives you: a big lift up of the spirits, and a Turkish bath with a massage for all your nerves. I know even nice cats (like my Dad for example) think that jazz is just noise and rock and sound angled at your genitals, not your intelligence, but I want you to believe that isn’t so at all, because it really makes you feel good in a very simple, but very basic, sort of way. I can best explain it by saying it just makes you feel happy“