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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Shuffle! takes place from 11.30pm, up stairs for this month only, where Dave will spin the very best in northern soul, party funk, soulful disco, stompin' reggae, 60s R&B, barrio boogaloo and the very best in black American music in general. Admission...Read more
Chasing Elusive Flowers in South AfricaNew York Times, April 23rd
That's what I envisioned when an acquaintance urged me to witness the blooming spring landscape of the Western and Northern Cape: “Never-ending carpets of wildflowers,” he promised. When I moved to Cape Town from New York in April 2013 ... So, in the...Read more
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We're playing a gig at The Royal Standard in Sheffield city centre to celebrate the release of the single. We've got Matt Willoughby supporting us and we've also got DJ sets from the 601 Club, so it's gonna be an amazing night of indie/mod & northern soul!...Read more
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La prima, unica, vera serata northern soul della nightlife fiorentina saluta sabato 26 aprile con una mega-festa che chiama a raccolta (quasi) tutti i protagonisti di questa ricchissima stagione. Da Milano tutto il groove di Dj Henry (Hang...On The...Read more
Katherine MacAlister catches up with comedian Lucy Porter and finds out how ...Oxford Mail, April 17th
Last time we spoke, Lucy Porter was up to her ears in nappies and wondering how she'd cope relaunching her career with her comeback show People Person. Now she's slap bang in the middle of the next tour Northern Soul and totally in the swing of things...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
Soul Searching: Lisa Stansfield's Favourite AlbumsThe Quietus, April 3rd
Our Cornerhouse meet up is convenient – later that evening is a screening of Northern Soul, a new film celebrating the rise of soul music in nightclubs like Wigan Casino and Manchester's Twisted Wheel in the 1970s. Stansfield plays the mother of one of...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