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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SENTINEL PEOPLE: Chris still carries a torch for the Northern Soul scene...Stoke Sentinel, August 30th
MORE than 30-years after the licensing committee thought it had silenced Northern Soul music in Stoke-on-Trent – the symbol of the city's iconic Golden Torch still burns bright. It was in 1973 that the long-suffering residents of Hose Street, in...Read more
Northern Soul: How Gavin Slark turned things around at Grafton GroupIrish Independent, August 29th
Northern Soul: How Gavin Slark turned things around at Grafton Group. Gavin Slark skipped university to work his way to the top of the corporate world. Now Grafton is showing the results of his hard work, writes Donal Lynch ...Read more
A Northern Soul night is coming to Derby this weekendDerby Telegraph, August 28th
A new music night at a very special venue hopes to put Derby on the Northern Soul map. A converted church on London Road will host a brand new Northern Soul night on August 30 in what hopes to be a popular night in the city's music scene. Queen's Hall ...Read more
5 ways to celebrate Northern Soul in ManchesterWOW24/7 (blog), August 26th
Frank Byrne has been a prolific DJ on the Northern Soul music scene for over 30 years. This August Bank Holiday he brings the first ever Manchester Soul Festival to The Printworks, in aid of The Christie hospital. Here, Frank shares five ways to...Read more
Carmine Appice and Dean Parrish to Release New Digital Only EP 'Northern Soul'Broadway World, August 25th
Legendary drummer Carmine Appice and New York 60's hitmaker, vocalist Dean Parrish have reunited after 50 years to record a new 7 song EP of 60's soul music, commonly known as Northern Soul music. Aptly titled "Northern Soul - I'm On My Way", the EP ...Read more
Manchester bars to celebrate Northern Soul with new festivalBar Magazine, August 23rd
Bars, pubs and restaurants across Manchester are supporting the city's first Northern Soul Festival, organised in aid of specialist cancer hospital The Christie. Taking place on Sunday August 30, The Printworks complex in Manchester city centre will...Read more
Days of Northern Soul gone by ...Fife Today, August 23rd
From the excellent revival policy from Kent Records Northern Soul's Classiest Rarities has now reached Vol 5. The ballrooms and dives that celebrated the soul rarities may themselves be rare these days but the music continues to fascinate and excite...Read more
Keeping the faith with Sheffield bar's mod and northern soul weekendThe Star, August 19th
A Sheffield bar is turning back the clock to the 1960s and 70s with a mod and northern soul weekend. The Green Room on Devonshire Street is hosting Out on the Floor from September 4 to 6. There will be a clothing and accessories market, a photography ...Read more