He never let it down
a tribute to Dave Godin
Dave Godin sadly passed away a few weeks ago, and I only found out today I’m ashamed to say. He was one of the few reasons I have ever felt proud about coming from this town. Indeed I will never forget my delight at seeing the Tamla Motown Appreciation Society membership card in Richard Barnes’ beautiful Mods book with the address marked as Church Road, Bexleyheath.

There are plenty of people who can write more eloquently and knowledgeably than me about Dave’s unique contribution to popular culture, the important role he played in championing black American soul music, his erudite writings about the music that fuelled the northern soul scene, and so on. There is a lovely tribute indeed by soul comrade Ady Croasdell on the Ace Records website, which I recommend.

I am more than ashamed to say that growing up in Bexleyheath I was not even aware of Dave Godin. I was too busy being a punk rocker, even though ironically my love for old soul sounds increased as I grew more and more disenchanted with what masqueraded as new music. Stranger still my mother worked for many years at a play school in Church Road with a lovely Mrs Godin, but let’s not go into that one.

Like many people reading this my debt to Dave Godin derives from the Deep Soul Treasures series of CDs he collated for Kent Records over the past six or seven years. The round 100 songs that form that collection are a joy to behold and I’m going to sit down tonight and lose myself in their astonishing rich mix of humanity, daring, caring, and raw naked emotion. And god these days it feels like only the deepest of soul music can soothe the hurt and ire caused by the aggravations of 21st century life.

But there have been so many great compilations. And yet Dave’s deep soul series had something special I have never found elsewhere. It comes back to his own contention that context is everything! He placed these incredibly uplifting songs in a setting that was at once so scholarly, so enthusiastic, so aesthetically right. He had an incredible amount of knowledge about the music, wanted to share his passion, to raise the tone of what he was doing, give the wonderful performances an arena to shine. The four CDs represent an astonishing achievement in the history of popular culture. We need to give credit to both Godin and to Kent Records for making this possible.

And now we know that when the fourth volume came out quietly a very short while ago Dave was quietly dying. It’s going to be hard not to think of that now.

It seems a lifetime ago I said I would never write for Tangents again. It is even longer since I wrote about the early volumes of Deep Soul Treasures. Very little in life has made me more proud than Dave Godin sending an e-mail saying he was “truly touched” by my “perceptive comments about the Deep Soul Treasures CDs”. He also teased me for saying he looked like a chemistry teacher and added “the most subversive people ALWAYS have the most conventional exteriors!” Amen.

We seem to have lost a lot of special people this year. Bexleyheath has lost its favourite son. I think in his honour this Bexleyheathen is going to make a public pledge to “keep the faith right on now” and try to never let it down. But then I’m a sentimental old bastard so I’m still going to cry a few tears as I sit here listening to Larry Banks sing I’m Not The One.

Kevin Pearce, Bexleyheath, Kent 4 November 2004