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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Elixir for the mindfulThe Economist (blog), July 28th
America and its northern neighbour now boast levels of tea consumption usually associated with the tea-drinking cultures of Britain, China, and India. According to Packaged Facts ... Partnering with Teavana, Oprah invites you to “Steep Your Soul...Read more
An evening of soul heads to Burton Town HallBurton Mail, July 28th
Burton Town Hall will be filled with the popular sound of soul on Saturday. Popular DJs Mark Johnson, Jason Hunt, Kev Massey and Pete 'Casper' Davies will be playing classic hits from the past at the northern soul night. The evening is scheduled to get ...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
VIDEO: Flash mob hits Market Place shopping centre 'to promote Bolton'The Bolton News, July 21st
Mr Jackson, said: “We went for Northern Soul because Bolton is close to Wigan and many people of a certain age remember it and it is becoming big among the young people age.” Bianca Rudman, aged 32, from Farnworth, said: “I never thought I would be ...Read more
Northern Soul: Living for the WeekendRadio Times, July 13th
Not in the know about Northern Soul? Prepare to be bombarded by the most fantastic records you've never heard, as the intros of classic stompers by Luther Ingram, the Contours, Leon Haywood and other nearly-weres flash past, as fresh and urgent now as ...Read more
Wigan comes to St Ives for special dayCornishman, July 3rd
THE summer's biggest Northern Soul event in the South West will take place next week in St Ives – and it will be a date for the purists. A 12-hour all-dayer that runs noon to midnight will see aficionados travel from across the country and beyond to...Read more