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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Albums round up: 25 by Texas; The Odyssey: A Northern Soul Time Capsule by ...Yorkshire Evening Post, February 27th
Purveyors of Caledonian soul music since 1990, Texas mark their 25th anniversary by reworking their biggest hits with the New York production team Truth and Soul, whose past clients and collaborators include Adele, Amy Winehouse and Lee Fields...Read more
How Shredded Wheat chose a northern soul night in Worcester for their latest ...Worcester News, February 23rd
Organisers of Worcester Soul All-Nighter, a Northern Soul music night which runs throughout the year at the University of Worcester's Pear Tree student bar, were approached by Nestle in November last year, who wanted to film their latest advert at the...Read more
Singers and dancers needed for a 'Northern Soul' Wizard of OzNottingham Post, February 21st
Nottingham Lakeside Arts is looking for local singers and dancers to join the cast of their next major production, a Northern Soul inspired version of The Wizard of Oz... Its snappy name is indicator that this is no ordinary interpretation of the...Read more
Pub to bring 70s Northern Soul to StourbridgeStourbridge News, February 13th
For thousands of youngsters in the 1970s, Northern Soul was a secret pleasure, with fans making their dance moves in the weekly all-nighters at venues across the country including Wigan Casino. Karl said: “I used to go to Wigan Casino myself many years ...Read more
Take to the floor for a Motown and Northern Soul eveningCotswold Journal, February 12th
NORTHERN Soul and 70s Motown is making its way to the West Midlands for a fundraising event organised by the Friends of Cotswold Volunteers. The Soul evening will be held at Jubilee 77 Club, Cirencester, on Saturday March 14 from 9pm to 1am. Tickets ...Read more
Splendid Kitchen: The Best In Northern Soul FoodManchester Confidential, February 12th
SPRING may be round the corner but it's still a long way off. Warm yourself up from the inside with some Northern Soul Food from Splendid Kitchen. Not licking the plate clean will be a challenge and a half. Think fried chicken dinner with creamy mash...Read more
Special night to pay tribute to Northern Soul stalwartBlackpool Gazette, February 6th
Northern Soul music is going through a revival, but Waxy was there at the beginning, going to venues like The Twisted Wheel in Manchester and Blackpool Mecca in the late 60s and early 70s. “Waxy was also featured in the documentary The Strange World of ...Read more
Elaine Constantine: 'You may have a shit job, but you iron your clothes and ...The Guardian, February 5th
For Elaine Constantine and her debut feature film Northern Soul, rejection came in waves, and it was relentless. First it was the gatekeepers of the various UK film funds, then, once she'd scraped together the production budget, it was the turn of film...Read more