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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Recent News: Northern Soul Records
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INTERVIEW: Comedian Lucy Porter on her Northern Soul Bridgwater showThis is The West Country, November 29th
Comedienne Lucy Porter comes to Bridgwater next month with 'Northern Soul', her latest, greatest stand-up show, which sneaks-a-peek at not quite knowing where you belong. The Mercury caught up with the Fringe favourite ahead of her Bridgwater visit to ...Read more
Northern soulIrish Independent, November 29th
Search Go. Independent.ie› Entertainment› Music›. Northern soul. Comments. Email; Print; Font Size. 29 November 2013. noRthern soulthe future sound of northern england. Also in this section. Boyzone: We are ready to perform · Backstreet Boys: 1D are...Read more
The Mix: Northern Soul RadioNPR, November 20th
It's been 40 years since the first all-night R&B party at the Wigan Casino nightclub outside Manchester, England. The doors didn't open until 2 a.m., and its 1,200-capacity ballroom was packed until dawn with dance-crazy (possibly amphetamine-fueled...Read more
INTERVIEW: Comedian Lucy Porter chats to the Mercury about 'Northern Soul'Bridgwater Mercury, November 20th
Comedienne Lucy Porter comes to Bridgwater next month with 'Northern Soul', her latest, greatest stand-up show, which sneaks-a-peek at not quite knowing where you belong. The Mercury's entertainment reporter, Daisy Blacklock, caught up with the Fringe ...Read more
No Northern Soul this time for Fratellis starBlackpool Gazette, November 18th
“When I was a kid I went about five or six times to see the Lights and do the usual stuff but I was down a couple of years ago for the Northern Soul dance championships, which was a cracking night. “Northern Soul is a real passion of mine and I'm...Read more
Northern Soul sets on Cleveland StreetDoncaster Today, November 14th
One of the Doncaster pub scene's most hidden treasures is the weekly Northern Soul session at Bailey's, Cleveland Street. Featuring DJ Dave John on the wheels of steel the music varies from straight four to floor Northern through to some spectacular...Read more
Reissue CDs Weekly: Brenda Holloway, Era Records Northern Soul, DamonThe Arts Desk, November 9th
As the home of the Motown empire, Detroit dominated American soul music in the Sixties. Yet the label's boss Berry Gordy bowed to the inevitable and opened a Los Angeles office in November 1963. The West Coast's home of film was taking over as ...Read more
Comedian Lucy Porter's bringing Northern Soul to The Ropewalk, Barton Upon ...Hull Daily Mail, November 8th
And in her new show Northern Soul, which arrives at The Ropewalk in Barton- Upon-Humber on Friday, November 29, she will be setting out why she is a spiritual northerner, despite technically being as southern as Nelson's Column and the Thames Flood ...Read more