However, the single escaped widespread attention until 1982, when it became the first track on For dancers only, a high-end compilation of dancefloor-friendly soul sides. Its inclusion acknowledged that “You Turned my Bitter Into Sweet” had become a staple of UK clubs when played. In 1983 it reached even more ears by being included in the mainstream music weekly NME cassette NME Ace Case.
Mary Love was not unknown though – her singles had been released in the UK in the the sixties> She was also on the 1966 British soul compositions soul supply and soul sixteen. But until For dancers onlyknowledge of her was limited to soul fans.
More than a decade later, For dancers only was a new kind of compilation – one that, as its compiler Ady Croasdell now says, “took the music back to the club sounds of the original mid-’60s mods”. He had been a DJ and ran the 6Ts Rhythm ‘N’ Soul club nights and knew that Northern Soul wasn’t the only soundtrack to pack the dance floors.
It was 40 years ago when For dancers only really expanded the way the soul was recognized. It was a revolutionary compilation. In part, it relied on the revival of the mod that had taken hold a few years earlier. But he also acknowledged the changes in what club goers were digging.
Now this important moment is recognized by the new collection For the forty dancerspublished on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of For dancers only. Also compiled by Croasdell, it appears on the same label as at the time and draws from the same source catalogues: the Kent and Modern labels. It’s a miracle they weren’t surface mined. Surprisingly, three of its 24 tracks are unreleased. Five others were unpublished at the time of their recording and originally appeared on a series of soul books published between 1999 and 2019.
Seeking to stand side by side with For dancers only It’s a tall order and, as confirmed in 1982, tastes change, which means different flavors prick up your ears and change your feet. Thus, cleverly, the new collection does not seek to recreate the atmosphere of forty years ago.
Even so, Mary Love opens For the forty dancers. This time it’s “Satisfied Feeling,” a 1967 B-side with a haunting melodic line and an irresistible mid-tempo shuffle beat. Chic. Deviations from the possibly expected templates are telegraphed by Tommy Youngblood’s “Tobacco Road North”, a moody cut leaning on Southern soul with a brooding atmosphere, and T-Bone Walker’s bluesy “Jealous Woman”. B.B. King’s 1959 “I’ve Got Papers on You Baby” is the kind of thing that would have energized a Flamingo Club crowd in 1962. Pace-Setters’ “Freedom & Justice” (1972) is an instrumental chant dominated by the ‘organ. towards the funky. “Help Me” (1962) by Beatrice Lee is soulful with a marked gospel influence. (left photo, 1982s For dancers only)
Other selections are in tune with people on the move at any time. The Sweethearts’ wonderful “No More Tears” (1966) does the trick, as does Clay Hammond’s “You Bring it all on Yourself” (1967) and ZZ Hill’s “Bearfootin'”-esque “That’s it” (1965).
The palette has become wider than in 1982. Another difference between then and now is that For the forty dancers is fully annotated where For dancers only had minimal commentary – the new release’s booklet has an introductory essay, track-by-track notes, and tons of photos. Times pass. But just like in 1982, great music always stays that way – whenever it surfaces. As worth celebrating as the birthday of Only for dancers.