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 appoints development manager and pushes into North EastProlific North, July 29th
NS_Logo_HIRES Manchester-based online magazine Northern Soul is expanding – with a new writer announced in Newcastle as well as a development manager to take on the commercial side of the independent operation. Launched in May 2013 by by ...Read more
Finding his voice: northern soul Gunderson returns to Pub 31Southernminn.com, July 24th
Hailing from up north, Preston Gunderson is now based out of northeast Minneapolis. He will be heading to Pub 31 on Aug. 8. (Submitted photo). The singer of songs. Gunderson belts it out at the Howling Moon Music Festival in 2014. (photo by Bri Rossini)...Read more
NORTHERN SOUL to Hit Theaters This FallBroadway World, July 23rd
Before there was Coachella, underground DJs inspired a movement with Northern Soul. When awkward John Clark (Langridge) is introduced to the feverous energy of American Soul by new friend and local DJ, Matt (Whitehouse), they both begin to dream of ...Read more
Soul Jam: Northern Soul Special with Bill BrewsterSkiddle.com, July 23rd
These tickets are on sale for Soul Jam: Northern Soul Special with Bill Brewster. Skiddle.com is an official ticket outlet for this event. All credit card purchases you make at skiddle.com are encrypted through our Secure Server Technology ...Read more
Freestyle Grooves With 'Northern Soul'; Sets Day-And-Date October ReleaseDeadline, July 22nd
northern soul EXCLUSIVE: Freestyle Releasing and Freestyle Digital Media have acquired U.S. theatrical, VOD and DVD rights to BAFTA-nominated Northern Soul. The directorial debut of photographer Elaine Constantine is a look back at the underground ...Read more
theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 7 - Northern Soul, The Fall and moreThe Arts Desk, July 16th
A recent and typically excellent BBC4 documentary about Northern Soul concluded that, after a certain point, once every ancient obscurity has been excavated, the scene will, by necessity, fade. This, however, still seems in no danger of happening...Read more
Night Owl, We are Lizards and other club nights to look forward to this weekendBirmingham Mail, July 13th
Northern Soul Club The Night Owl, in Lower Trinity Street, Digbeth. Looking for a club night to go to this weekend in Birmingham? We've put together our pick of the best club nights to look forward to whether you are into Northern Soul, house music or...Read more
A first look at Digbeth's The Night Owl - the new home of Northern SoulBirmingham Mail, July 10th
Friend Matt Vause, 32, is regular at Brum's once nomadic Northern Soul scene at nights such as Soulvation's at the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath and Heart and Soul at the Irish Centre. "It's really good to find a great venue, like this will hopefully...Read more