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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Victoria Baths' Un-Rest festival focuses on Northern SoulEvent Magazine, March 3rd
Manchester's Victoria Baths is hosting a ten-day celebration exploring the power of physical movement, including the Northern Soul phenomenon, with a line-up of video installations, dance and live art performances. The Un-Rest festival, launching on 24 ...Read more
Manchester's music royalty turn out for Northern Soul preview at the CornerhouseManchester Evening News, February 28th
Manchester's music stars packed into the Cornerhouse Cinema for the preview of Northern Soul, which recreates the heyday of 1970s dance club Wigan Casino. Ian Brown and Mani, from The Stone Roses, Rochdale singer and star of the movie Lisa ...Read more
Spain's northern soulFootball Espana, February 27th
Spain's northern soul. Barcelona and Atletico Madrid both suffered defeats at the weekend, but Mike Barnes says their northern opponents deserve credit for their success. Anoeta has not been a happy hunting ground for Barcelona in recent seasons and...Read more
Northern soul returns to Kingston Working Men's Club for all day partyKingston Guardian, February 26th
A new northern soul club playing all the hits from the 60s and 70s is making a return to Kingston for an all day party next month. After a highly successful debut in January, the Kingston Soul Club will return to Kingston Men's Working Club in Old...Read more
World Club Challenge: Wigan survive football incursion to remain northern soul ...Sydney Morning Herald, February 21st
Wiganers would have to offer up for consideration their strange assortment of secondary claims to fame – the universal addiction to meat pies, a boiled sweet called Uncle Joe's Mint Balls, having acted as the epicentre of the '70s Northern Soul...Read more
Bristol girl Levanna Mclean on her night at the Brits with Pharrell Williams ...Bristol Post, February 21st
He wanted his performance at the British music awards to include a Northern Soul theme – with genuine Northern Soul dancers. The style – which emerged in Northern England in the late 1960s from the British mod scene – was what Levanna had been ...Read more
Northern soul dancers take part in Tate art workshopsThis is Cornwall, February 20th
Tate Collective and Linder have invited WYS, a group of young Northern soul dancers from Wigan, pictured, who will be attending the days to share their interests, knowledge, ideas and to work with them in creating an ambitious artwork considering...Read more
My On-off Affair With Northern SoulHuffington Post UK, February 11th
Northern Soul is a music and dance movement that spawned one the biggest underground following amongst the youth that Britain has ever seen. Musically, it was about American soul music on seven-inch vinyl imported by DJ's who went there on their ...Read more