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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Will Young Goes For Soul With “Love Revolution”: Listen To The '85% Proof' SingleIdolator: All About The Music, March 27th
The track pulls its influences from Motown, Northern Soul and legendary funk band Sly And The Family Stone, and allows for Will to completely cut loose, vocally. Like Adele, Mark Ronson and Sam Smith, we can now chalk Will Young up as another British ...Read more
Reissue CDs Weekly: The Odyssey - A Northern Soul Time CapsuleThe Arts Desk, March 21st
Like Banks, her single found favour on the Northern Soul scene, but in the Seventies and Eighties rather than the Sixties. Copies of the British issue sell for a mere £1000. Thankfully, the box set The Odyssey - A Northern Soul Time Capsule costs...Read more
Northern Soul night in Buxton's Octagon centreDerbyshire Times, March 18th
A large dance floor will be filled with movement andd merriment from 8pm and there will be a bar until 1am. Tickets £7. The film Northern Soul will be shown on March 25 at 5pm in the town's Pavilion Arts Centre as part of Buxton Festival of World Cinema...Read more
Creative industries get some Northern Soul as global event comes to LeedsThe Business Desk (registration), March 17th
LEEDS is to be the next city to host a global speaker and networking event, Glug, for the creative sector. The ticketed events, launched in London eight years ago take place in nine other cities including New York, Beijing and Auckland. Glug Leeds is...Read more
Watch and in pictures: Diner Northern Soul is serving up grilled cheese to the ...Manchester Evening News, March 16th
An eatery serving grilled cheese to hungry diners in the city centre is planning to expand. Northern Soul launched a few weeks ago opposite Arndale's Market taking its cue from New York's laid-back diners and the sounds of the British mod scene. It...Read more
Snapper Richard captures Northern Soul spiritBlackpool Gazette, March 10th
“Now I go to most Northern Soul gigs and events every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. “It was about the photography at first, but it has gotten to me from the music side of things now too. You can't not do with that music.” Northern Soul grew in the UK in...Read more
Sinfield backs Headingley's charity Northern Soul festivalLove Rugby League, March 6th
Leeds Rhinos' Headingley stadium will be hosting a charity soul music event on May 3, and club skipper Kevin Sinfield is giving the event his enthusiastic backing. The event is being organised by the Yorkshire-based charity, Charity Soul, which was...Read more
Albums round up: 25 by Texas; The Odyssey: A Northern Soul Time Capsule by ...Yorkshire Evening Post, February 27th
Purveyors of Caledonian soul music since 1990, Texas mark their 25th anniversary by reworking their biggest hits with the New York production team Truth and Soul, whose past clients and collaborators include Adele, Amy Winehouse and Lee Fields...Read more