Six Of The Best is a semi-regular feature that pokes, prods and persuades your favourite bands, bards and barometers of hip opinion to tell us six of the best tracks they’ve ever heard. The tracks could be mainstream million-sellers or they could be obfuscatingly obscure, it doesn’t matter. The only criteria set is that, aye, they must be Six of the Best. Think of it like a mini, groovier version of Desert Island Discs…
Stuart Cosgrove is, to most folk in Scotland, the owner of that distinctive voice with the Tayside twang barking and cackling its way out of the tranny each Saturday afternoon between 12 and 2. “Ah yes indeed Tam!” could almost be his catchphrase. As co-presenter of BBC Radio Scotland’s Off The Ball, he’s a bringer of much needed humour and mirth to suffering Scottish football fans up and down the land.
‘The most petty and ill-informed football show on the radio‘ is a must-listen to in my house – it’s the central part of my pre-match warm up before I head off to Rugby Park to watch my team lie down to whoever they’re up against that week. Although primarily a football show, there’s a fair smattering of music references. Sometimes, one of the guests will be of that ilk, other times Tam and Stuart will discuss their musical preferences, with Stuart the black music obsessed yin to Tam Cowan’s cabaret ‘n crooners yang. And there’s always a record to play out with, a thematically-linked song that encapsulates the mood of that week’s big (or petty) talking point. It’s my favourite show on the wireless by some distance.
In the 70s, Stuart was a buttoned-down and baggy-panted Northern Soul fan, a collector of rare 7″s who was fond of hopping on the overnight Perth to London train and disembarking at Wigan just in time for the Casino to open. In the 80s, Stuart indulged his musical passions further by writing for the fanzines before graduating to the NME and The Face. He was an early champion of electronic dance music and his job gained him access to all sorts of musical royalty, from Stevie Wonder and Jimmy Ruffin to Prince and the hallowed halls of Paisley Park. He’s long-since moved onwards and upwards (would you still want to be writing for NME nowadays? What/who could you muster up any enthusiasm to write about?) and is now a high heid yin at Channel 4. Somehow, inbetween the radio work each Saturday, working in London through the week and going to as many St Johnstone games as he can fit in, he’s found the time to write a book.
Here’s the blurb;
Detroit 67, The Year That Changed Soulis the story of the city of Detroit in the most dramatic and creative year in its history. It is the story of Motown, the breakup of The Supremes and the implosion of the most successful African-American record label ever, set against a backdrop of urban riots, escalating war in Vietnam and police corruption. The book weaves through the year as counterculture arrives in Detroit and the city’s other famous group, the proto-punk band MC5 go to war with mainstream America. The year ends in intense legal warfare as the threads that bind Detroit together unravel and leave a chaos that scars the city for decades to come.
It’ll be right up my street, and no doubt many of yours too.
Ahead of its publication at the end of March, Stuart somehow found the time to contribute to Plain Or Pan. Keeping with the Detroit theme, Stuart tells us his six favourite Detroit musicians. In what must surely be a serendipitous moment, most of them have graced this blog countless times already.
The original black crooner who wanted to be the black Sinatra but ended up fronting the greatest album of all time ‘What’s Going On.’
Marvin Gaye – Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)
The bespectacled lead singer of The Temptations was the most complicated character at Motown and at war with himself. He eventually died of a drug overdose.
The Temptations – Message From A Black Man
The Queen of Soul came from a famous Detroit family whose father was the city’s most flamboyant preacher.
Aretha Franklin – Save Me
Often seen as ‘the other Supreme’ caught in a bitter war between Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, but her voice effortlessly floated from jazz, to soul and even opera.
The Supremes – Automatically Sunshine
An outsider who often won local talent contests in the Motor City but was in his sixties before he joined The Four Tops as a stand in for the legendary Levi Stubbs.
Ronnie McNeir – Lucky Number
Jonnie Mae Matthews
The godmother of Detroit soul and a pioneer who had a voice rougher than sandpaper and smoother than silk.
Jonnie Mae Matthews – The Headshrinker
Stuart Cosgrove is the author of Detroit 67. You can read more about the book and its author on the Detroit 67 Facebook page. Afterwards, you’d best get on the good foot and pre-order your copy from here (or your usual online book retailer.) I’ll see you at the front of the virtual queue.