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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Recent News: Northern Soul Records
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Northern Soul fans raise £1100 for charityexpressandstar.com, August 20th
Northern Soul attracts fanatics who travel far and wide to dance the night away - and an event in Wolverhampton was no different. Fifteen DJs dug into their vinyl collections to unearth enough classic records to keep the crowd pleased for almost 12...Read more
Tracey Thorn: With music, we often only hear the side of the story told by menNew Statesman, August 15th
Admittedly, there's a lot about the northern soul phenomenon that embodies what we regard as a “male” way of perceiving and interpreting culture. As a music scene, it is as much about rareties, and collecting, and obsessiveness, and the acquiring of...Read more
At last, the true history of Northern Soul and Wigan Casino is out thereLancashire Evening Post, August 9th
Celebrated author, Northern Soul expert and LEP Business Editor David Nowell reflects on BBC 4's Living For The Weekend, available on BBC iPlayer. Northern Soul was seen as a passing musical fad when it burst into the nation's consciousness in the mid ...Read more
Blue Front Brings BBQ Back with a Side of Jazz, Pop, and Northern SoulNew Times Broward-Palm Beach (blog), August 8th
The faux-lighthouse entranceway to the retro-quirky building at Dixie and North 12th Street in Lake Worth has seen a Pulp Fiction jumble of pop culture history pass through its doors. Its latest incarnation, Blue Front Bar-B-Que, marks a very cool new...Read more
Northern Soul: first pictures of new British filmTelegraph.co.uk, August 4th
The Northern Soul movement began in the late 1960s and was at its height in the mid-1970s. The most famous all-nighters were held at the Wigan Casino, with other towns and cities across the north and the Midlands hosting their own nights. White...Read more
Northern Soul: Living For The Weekend (BBC4): TV PreviewStoke Sentinel, July 25th
THE northern soul phenomenon was the most exciting underground club movement of recent times, even more so than the Darby and Joan. At its highpoint, thousands of disenchanted working class youths across the north of England danced to obscure ...Read more
Northern Soul: Living For The Weekend will have you wishing you were Out On ...Mirror.co.uk, July 24th
That's the unlikely genesis of Northern Soul, a type of music characterised by a foot-stomping 4/4 beat, yearning vocals, lush orchestration and all the more exhilarating because it was a grass-roots trend born on the dancefloor, and not to be found on...Read more
Manchester's Cube3 introducing its Northern Soul to Londonbdaily, July 23rd
Karl Barker, CEO at Cube3, said: “We feel that we are currently in a great position to sit alongside some of the larger London agencies and, as we continue to grow our creative and digital teams, I am confident that Cube3's northern soul will find a...Read more