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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Hoboken musicians banding together to recreate The Band's "The Last Waltz" at ...The Jersey Journal - NJ.com, November 18th
When The Band decided to retire from touring, the group performed a gala concert dubbed "The Last Waltz" on Thanksgiving Day, 1976, featuring a who's who of Seventies superstars and filmed (by Martin Scorses, no less) for posterity. On Thursday ...Read more
Bank on new night to lead a city Northern Soul revivalPontefract and Castleford Express, November 15th
Bank Street Soul Club launches on Saturday, November 15, upstairs at The Hop, and features a live appearance by Boston US soul legend Barrence Whitfield & The Savages. Leeds-based soul singer Samuel S Parkes will also perform and advance tickets ...Read more
Northern soulInside Housing, November 13th
Last week we saw significant progress in terms of greater devolution to northern city regions, with announcements of a multi-billion pound funding deal now coming under the control of a future directly elected mayor of Greater Manchester, with the...Read more
Dundee seller hoping Northern Soul fans will hot-foot it for Wigan Casino name ...The Courier, November 13th
Ed Sweeney has the exclusive rights to release records and host evenings under the Wigan Casino Northern Soul name. The rights have been put on eBay by Mr Sweeney, who hosted Dundee's first northern soul all-nighter in 1973. The former DJ has been ...Read more
Birches Head hairdresser crowned northern soul dancing championStoke Sentinel, November 11th
HAIRDRESSER Kieghley McGlinchey is celebrating after being crowned the winner of a northern soul dance contest. The 23-year-old beat dozens of other competitors at the annual Blackpool Hilton World Northern Soul Dancing Championship. And the ...Read more
Northern Soul entertainment at revamped Tunstall pub The BarrelStoke Sentinel, November 10th
NORTHERN soul fans are expected to pack out a town centre pub after it was reopened following a complete refurbishment. The Barrel, in Tunstall, welcomed its first customers at the weekend and is set to become a regular venue for soul and Motown nights...Read more
DVD and Blue-ray film reviews: From Detectorists to Northern SoulThe Independent, November 7th
It's Wigan in 1974 and it's pretty grim save for the promise of dancing to northern soul. The two new pals go on a musical odyssey together in Elaine Constantine's vigorous British film, which recalls Quadrophenia and Saturday Night Fever. ***. Oculus...Read more
Film review: Northern Soul is a genuine taste of mid-70s youth cultureNorthampton Chronicle & Echo, October 29th
Ok, I will put my hands up and admit that it was with some trepidation that I settled down to watch the screening of Northern Soul: The Film. My trepidation came about because of a movie about four years ago which, like this one, had a background to a ...Read more