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“You’re all I need to get by” could have only been written by a two people who would be married within a decade and remain so for another three. As it could only be sung by two best friends who truly loved each other, staring into each others eyes, teenagers laughing at each others’ jokes over ice cream sundaes.

The writers were known by their last names, Ashford and Simpson. Whereas the singers were known by their first, Marvin and Tammi.

Marvin was heartbroken when Tammi died. Even though she’d been so sick that Valerie Simpson had to fill in ghosting some of her vocal tracks on their last duets, it came as a hammer blow. Many say he never got over it.

“You’re all I need…” is their swansong, their highest watermark. Two condors soaring together over peaks that would remain forever unscaled by mortal men.

One of their last singles, the twee “The onion song,” could never touch it. Nor could the flip, a version of another Ashford and Simpson song, “California Soul,” that didn’t sit right with them the way it would with someone else.

No, Marvin and Tammi’s version isn’t the best “California Soul.” Not by miles.

That one came out a few months before on the Cadet record label, sung by Marlena Shaw, only to sink largely without a trace until it was rediscovered by soul freaks on a cold archipelago a couple of thousand miles to the east in the following years and decades.

Now this version had something. The break was so snakeskin tight it’s been sampled a thousand times. It was a genre defining staple of end-of the twentieth, turn of the twenty-first Century dance music. Its finger snap snaps like a steel bear trap, and is instantly recognisable.

Marlena Shaw could sing. She had timing, range, power and control over an astonishing, deep voice, but she was usually at her best singing dinner table jazz. Her most famous track is one of her rarest of forays, one into dynamite soul. Her label didn’t really know what to do with her.

Their greatest moments had passed.

Cadet, and her brother label, Chess, the greatest blues imprint ever dragged into existence, were struggling by ’69.

They would put out records like Solomon Burke’s ludicrous “Music to make love by,” an album that drips with sweat and stinks with a heavy breath of messy sexual congress, but could easily be misconceived as a pastiche were it not so clearly serious.

They would try to reintroduce themselves to a new generation with LP’s like “Electric Mud,” which has a certain fuzzy style to it, but lacks any of the natural menace of Muddy Waters’ earlier stuff.

California Soul is homeless. It’s looking towards the West, and the state that would suck Motown in and spit it out. A place so far away from the Chicago of Chess, or of Simpson’s Bronx. It is based on a fantasy.

There had to be an escapism in black American music of the late 1960s. The mythical California of sun-kissed skylines and pert, tanned arses, must have held a fascination to the poor youth of the windy city, just as deep space did to George Clinton in Detroit. It was an essential tool for survival.

Look away.

For there had to be somewhere better.

But I got to know it in a different world entirely. My own fantasy world. Brighton, England, at the turn of the century, where we were pampered and cossetted and certain that we were the coolest motherfuckers to have ever walked the earth. Everyone was in a band. Everyone knew everyone, as they coveted the rarest of records and the even rarer women.

“California Soul” sat amongst Tom Jones’ “Looking out my window,” Shirley Ellis’ “The clapping song,” Stevie Wonder’s superlative “Superstition,” and even the highlight of “Electric Mud,” Muddy’s re-recorded, “I just want to make love to you,” on the record decks of the Pavillion Tavern.

Apolitical music that sounded cooler than anything we’d ever heard before, but that lacked bite. That was, with hindsight, somehow pretend.

It is for me the sound alongide the oven-cleaner-bitter taste of cheap speed, dabbed off a paper wrap, washed down as quickly as possible with a flat and watery Stella. The punctuation to the overwhelming waves of the first rush of ecstasy pushing up from the knees, through the guts, threatening to burst out of your chest like a boar on all fours charging out of the scrub and the brush.

We were never going to change the world. It was just one fleeting moment of many that come every year in a transient and parasitic place like Brighton. I loved it, as I had more fun there than I could ever imagine. I played with my best friends, people who I still love, and I worked in the coolest record shops, but I was probably, actually, just passing through on my way somewhere else.

Somewhere like here.

The Pavillion Tavern won’t be mourned by too many now it’s closed down at last. At least not by those who didn’t know it as intimately as we. It’s sticky blackened carpets can be burned like they should have been done years ago. The lines leading all the way up from the basement to the upstairs club will finally get the cleaning they’ve always needed. The beer always tasted like piss up there anyway, but that wasn’t the point.

But it will come back as a memory, a pavlovian hangover, a hazy thudding at the back of my head reminding me of when I was dead certain that this was everything that was right with the world.

Whenever I hear that beartrap fingersnap at the beginning of California Soul.

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