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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Going Out Guide, Northern VirginiaWashington Post, April 16th
The Bachelor Boys The band performs a high-energy mix of funk, rock, jazz, top 40, soul and swing. 8 p.m. Iota Club, 2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. 703-522-8340. www.iotaclubandcafe.com. Free. TUE 22. “The Threepenny Opera” The musical, based on the ...Read more
Last Days Of The Twisted Wheel ClubManchester Confidential, April 16th
In the 1960s the venue hosted soul nights and performances by artists such as Ike and Tina Turner, Edwin Starr and Ben E King, and it is considered to be the birth place of Northern Soul. The club closed in 1971 and went on to become Placemate 7, and ...Read more
Rhythm and booze in Middle EarthClitheroe Today, April 16th
Friday: Rambunkshus, lively Motown and Northern Soul covers band, plus soul DJ. Doors 6 pm, music around 7pm, tickets £6. Saturday daytime (£3 entry, children free) from 10.45 am: Mike Kneafsey of Sweeney Astray, Peter Aldridge, Blanty, Mog Stanley, ...Read more
Gig guideDerbyshire Times, April 16th
Crackin' Right Foot will be playing at The Bull's Head, Old Whittington, Chesterfield, 4pm start. Past Masters at the Butchers Arms, Brimington. 4pm start. Motown/Northern Soul night at The County Music Bar, Chesterfield, from 7pm. Wednesday, April 23...Read more
How John Newman's Mom Crafted the Soul Singer's Signature Soundfuse.tv, April 14th
"My mom's a huge northern soul fan," the "Love Me Again" singer explains. "What northern soul is, in the UK, it can only be explained as a rave scene almost—a scene of people that were going to these events and dancing to b-sides of Motown music. That...Read more
This week's music reviews: Rhydian, Paulo Nutini, Joni Mitchell, Northern SoulExpress.co.uk, April 10th
Well the Welsh baritone is now on to his fifth album (we can't quite believe it ourselves) and he's gone all classical crossover, meaning highly dramatic covers of Nights In White Satin and The Blower's Daughter as well as a bunch of songs we never...Read more
Comic aims to conquer and divide MidlandersBirmingham Mail, March 28th
She was born in the suburban sprawl of Croydon, but seduced by left-wing politics and the music of The Smiths, Lucy Porter has always felt her spiritual home was in the north of England. This notion is behind her show, Northern Soul, in which the...Read more
Northern Soul star Alexander O'Neal gearing up for Middlesbrough TFM ...Gazette Live, March 20th
And the Northern Soul star, known for hits including Criticize, If You Were Here Tonight and Fake, is looking forward to the show at Linthorpe Road's TFM Soundworks. “I always enjoy coming to the UK and performing,” said Alexander. “The fans here are...Read more