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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Northern soul classics at monthly Blow UpGreenock Telegraph, April 23rd
A MONTHLY mash-up of the best northern soul favourites will be served up in Greenock this weekend. Popular music night Blow Up is back at The Broomhill Tavern on Saturday at 8pm. Entry is free and DJs Joe, Brim and Des have promised to play the best ...Read more
The Printworks to host first Manchester Soul FestivalManchester Evening News, April 20th
Northern soul fans can get their groove on at the first Manchester Soul Festival this summer. More than 30 bands and DJs from all over the UK will take to the stage at The Printworks in aid of The Christie on Sunday, August 30. The event has been...Read more
MUSIC: Northern Soul night at Frome's Wheat SheavesFrome Standard, April 16th
There will be a celebration of Northern Soul music featuring live band The All Nighters at Frome's Wheat Sheaves on Friday, April 17. The All-Nighters are an eight-piece Northern Soul band that pays tribute to the classic up-tempo soul played in...Read more
Bristol dance sensation Levanna Mclean face of number 1 Northern Soul albumBristol Post, April 13th
The 18-year-old, from Winterbourne, who also goes by the name of Northern Soul Girl, has already had millions of people watch her dance on Youtube, but is now set to reach millions more as the face of new compilation album Move On Up. Levanna has ...Read more
BBC Radio Manchester introduces 'Northern Soul' to weekly line-upManchester Evening News, April 10th
Packed with musical memories from a scene born in Greater Manchester, features include: '6 by 6', covering half a dozen Tamla Motown favourites , 'Sock it to 'em Soul', examining the early youth club soul era, the 'The Non-stop Northern Soul Oldies...Read more
Northern Soul screening in Southbank; Soul-A-Go-Go after party at ShebeenSydney Morning Herald, April 2nd
To celebrate the digital release of Northern Soul, the story of the musical movement that captured northern England in the 1970s, Backlot Studios in Southbank is hosting a special screening of the film, introduced by local soul DJ Miss Goldie. "A pure...Read more
Dancing your life away in a Northern Soul townSydney Morning Herald, April 2nd
As is clear in her energised, song-filled, coming-of-age film Northern Soul, it was a matter of confidence – giving people confidence to be more than they were expected to be (you're only working-class northerners, you've got no future etc) and to be...Read more
Smoke And Mirror Routine, at Northern Soul Thursday, crosses genres and ...NJ.com, March 30th
The multi-instrumentalist rock 'n' roll quartet played such an impressive set at Northern Soul's weekly open mic back in 2013 that the club's booker offered them a real gig shortly thereafter. Now Smoke And Mirror Routine will be back, headlining at...Read more