Northern Soul does not refer to a music genre per se. Rather, it is the phrase used to describe the late-1960s-though-1970s dance club and music scene in northern England. The kids at clubs like The Twisted Wheel and Wigan Casino would dance all night long (literally) to fast-paced 45s of Detroit and American soul.
Unlike most types of collectible vinyl records, the Northern Soul 45s that are generally worth the most today are not necessarily the ones by the best-known artists. Gloria Jones, Jackie Wilson, and the Imperials were all popular in the clubs, but when it comes to Northern Soul 45s, the more obscure the artist, song, and label, the better.
The reason for the focus on the lesser-known 45s is the scarcity of the discs that were played, and subsequently popularized, at these clubs. In some cases, each club had its own playlist, if you will, based on the prized 45s in its DJs collection. Today, serious collectors attempt to replicate not just the sound of the Northern Soul experience, but also the sound of particular clubs by searching for the 45s that were their signatures.
For example, according to former Wigan Casino DJ Kev Roberts, back in the day the most popular Northern Soul 45 at his club was an unreleased single by Frank Wilson called "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)." Wilson, who worked for Berry Gordy at Motown, had recorded the song in 1965. Of the 250 or so demos that were pressed, only two are known to have survived. Yet this arcane track was a monster on the Wigan dance floor. In May of 2009, one of the copies sold at auction in England for £25,742.
Other collectible Northern Soul vinyl 45s include "Because of My Heart" by the Butlers with Frankie Beverly (Rouser); "No One Else Can Take Your Place" by the Inspirations (Breakthrough); "Lady in Green" by the Magnetics (Bonnie); "Show Stopper" by the Cashmeres (Hem); "Let Me Make You Happy" by Billy Woods (Sussex); and "Can’t Get Over These Memories" by Jon & the Weirdest (Tie).
One of the many interesting aspects of Northern Soul was the belated popularization of songs that had languished for years in the States only to find new life in Great Britain. The most illustrative example of this phenomenon was "Hey Girl Don't Bother Me," which was recorded by The Tams in 1964 and reached number 41 on the U.S. charts. Seven years later, in 1971, that same song charted at number one in the U.K. for three weeks, thanks exclusively to its popularity with Northern Soul enthusiasts and club DJs.
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Technology helps keep tabs on lighting, forest firesSan Francisco Chronicle (subscription), July 5th
Thunderstorm cells with strobe-like thunderbolts followed by soul-shaking thunder arose in pockets Saturday night across the high Sierra, Cascade and Shasta-Siskiyou ranges. No fires ... In Northern California, we've dodged the fire bullet so far...Read more
Naidoc week 2015 mixtape: Emma Donovan, Bart Willoughby, Radical Son and ...The Guardian, July 5th
But as she began to absorb new influences from her father's record collection – American artists like LaVern Baker and Etta James, along with Indigenous Australian acts No Fixed Address and Archie Roach – her music took a left turn into blues and soul...Read more
Cookies on the BBC websiteBBC News, June 26th
DJ Mark Robb northern soul gig at socialist celebrationClydebank Post, June 24th
Mark Robb, 43, is a crowd-pulling DJ and political activist, known for his northern soul parties, which come with the tunes, dancing and mod style alike. The former nightclub boss is pulling the show together with fellow colleagues in the Scottish...Read more
Turning the tables on soul musicSpalding Guardian, June 23rd
The ten-piece Northern soul outfit, including members from Holbeach, Long Sutton and Wisbech, crusade around northern and central England spreading the gospel of a music form brought to new audiences by the British film, Northern Soul, starring Steve ...Read more
Northern soul dance class in ClitheroePendle Today, June 22nd
One of the main reasons for her choosing to come to Clitheroe is that there is such a vibrant soul scene in the town with the Sunday and Saturday soul sessions at St Michael and St John Social Club, in Lowergate, run by Neil Grainger, who also has the...Read more
Men's fashion: Topman taps into Northern Soul and New York punkThe Guardian, June 12th
Northern Soul was the most obvious – its influence was seen in wide-legged trousers and vests (all the better for spinning around the dance floor) and patched jackets – while classic New York punk references came in the form of studded denim (very...Read more
Northern Soul show at StablesNorthampton Chronicle & Echo, June 9th
They have previously performed with the likes of The Temptations, Ben E King and The Four Tops as well as playing to audiences at the V Festival and on The Jonathan Ross Show. The Northern Soul Tour heads to the Wavendon venue on Saturday, June 13 ...Read more