Enmore Theatre, Sydney. April 25, 2019.

Thirty-seven years after I first heard this band I’m downstairs at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney. The crowd is surprisingly small so there is plenty of open space on the sloping ground floor. Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, all 15 of them, are five songs into their set. By way of introduction to the next song Little Steven tells us how important radio was when he was growing up and how it made him feel, deep, deep down. That soul connection. He plays the signature intro and then there are the horns:

We always stood on the same block way back then

Waiting to find out where in the world we fit in

Then something on the radio changed everything we’d been

Ever since, I need it, over and over again…

… I’m in my shed at Tasker Avenue with my transistor under the blankets listening to Mad Mel on 2SM.

I’m about to go to school, it’s 1965, the kitchen radio plays She’s So Fine – the two minutes of power pop from The Easybeats and I want to leap, fly, from Tasker Avenue to Christian Brothers Lewisham and rote learn everything they throw at me including the strap.

I’m in the infirmary at boarding school in 1967 listening to the ward radio and Stateside Records have convinced a commercial station to play the Small Faces’ Itchycoo Park four times in an hour.

I’m on the train to a factory in Condell Park in December 1969 with cheap headphones, my transistor radio and Fortunate Son.

Steve and I are driving from Kempsey to Crescent Head in 1972 at about 9pm and the local DJ at 2KM puts on the Hollies’ Long Cool Woman (in a black dress) and apparently goes outside for a smoke as the vinyl single hits a snag and repeats and repeats … and right in front of me the Disciples of Soul …

And always in the background after everybody’s gone

It was something on the radio saying come on Stevie, come on, come on

Where it comes from baby I don’t know

That same old something just won’t let me go

It’s too late baby, it’s been too long

Don’t try to stop me ’till the good is gone…

 

… I’m on the lounge with Steve in Harold Street, Newtown in 1974 and Chris Winter plays Rory Gallagher’s Could’ve Had Religion on Room to Move.

It’s January 19, 1975, at 11am in Tasker Avenue and Holger Brockman plays You just like me ‘Cos I’m Good in Bed to launch 2JJ.

In 1978 I’ve negotiated the 69 sets of traffic lights from Camperdown to Campbelltown to teach my Grade 5 class when the same DJ plays Rory Gallagher’s electrifying slide in Secret Agent and later in the same year I’ve picked up Greg from a professional development course and we are heading back to Sydney – Double J is on in the car – and we hear Sultans of Swing for the first time…

You need something in your soul that’s gonna keep you strong

 That kind of good never ever gonna go wrong

… I’m painting the white picket fence around the No. 1 oval at the University of Sydney in December 1979 and The Motels give me that seductive, slinky, multilayered saxophone solo in Total Control.

Four years later there is Australian Crawl’s wonderfully puzzling Reckless filling the car as I negotiate the Hume Highway at Yagoona on the way to work in Cabramatta.

Fast forward to 2017 and I’ve caught a taxi on the north side of Bangkok’s Lumpini Park heading to the river when I hear Won’t Go Home Without You and there it is again so I say to the driver “phom chop phelng nii” and he ignores me. Back at the Enmore, I’m crying as the sixth song in the set continues.

Stereo Story #645

 

See also, Summer  of Sorcery

Paul Dufficy grew up in Australia but has lived and worked for extensive periods in Japan, Indonesia, Pakistan and Thailand. He writes about music, travel and other things that catch his interest. To support his writing he leads a Sydney walking tour with a focus on art and architecture. Paul is the creator of the new blog SoJournal. (Contributions welcome!)