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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First Trailer For Northern SoulEmpire Online, September 22nd
Though it has been covered well in documentaries and books, there hasn't been a film that specifically targeted the musical movement of Northern Soul that swept the north of England in the 1970s. Elaine Constantine's film aims to change that, and the...Read more
Northern Soul movie rekindles memories of big Huddersfield nightsHuddersfield Examiner, September 22nd
It was a scene that lit fires in the souls of hundreds of Huddersfield residents. And now Northern Soul, a film about the genre, could rekindle the flames in music lovers' hearts when it hits the silver screen at Holmfirth Picturedrome on October 30...Read more
Northern Soul all-nighter in Blackburn to celebrate new filmLancashire Telegraph, September 21st
A SPECIAL Northern Soul all-nighter will be held in Blackburn next weekend to celebrate the launch of a new film about the movement. Northern Soul, a film tracing the scene's Lancashire roots, is to be aired at King George's Hall next weekend...Read more
Tributes to soul night dadBlackpool Gazette, September 19th
The daughter of a man who collapsed and died while dancing at Blackpool Tower today paid tribute to him, saying: “He died doing what he loved”. Steve Thompson was at a Northern Soul event in the Tower Ballroom when he collapsed on the dancefloor at ...Read more
Irish pop-rockers Ash to play free show at Northern Soul in HobokenThe Jersey Journal - NJ.com, September 19th
What's more, Ash bassist Mark Hamilton will be able to walk to the gig from his front door; he and his family have been living just a few blocks from Northern Soul for the last few years, while singer/guitarist Tim Wheeler resides in Brooklyn. Drummer...Read more
How to dance to northern soulThe Guardian, September 18th
“How about,” I say to my northern soul dance instructor, Sharon Sullivan, “I miss out the tricky shuffle part of this dance step you're trying to show me and just slide my foot along the floor instead – it's basically the same thing, right?” “No...Read more
Steve Coogan in first trailer for 'Northern Soul' - watchNME.com, September 18th
Soul club nights in the North of the country were hugely popular in the '70s and Constantine hopes her film will appeal to that generation's club goers and reach out to a modern audience keen to learn more about the roots of UK club culture. The film's...Read more
Hartlepool club to be part of Northern Soul All-WeekerHartlepool Mail, September 9th
Hartlepool Northern Soul Club are joining 26 venues across the UK and Ireland taking part in the Northern Soul All-Weeker to celebrate the launch of the soundtrack and forthcoming Northern Soul The Film directed by award-winning photographer, Elaine ...Read more