Saturday, 20 November 2010

Northern Soul Index

Northern Soul is a working-class cultural phenomenon. It started in a number of clubs like the Twisted Wheel in Manchester, The Golden Torch in Stoke, The Catacombs in Wolverhampton, The Dungeons in Nottingham, and many more, in the mid 1960's, before it was even given a name. It was based on a particular type of soul music that was conducive to an energetic style of dancing that comes out of similar US dance styles, going back at least to the 1940's. The term Northern Soul was probably first used by Dave Godin, in 1970, in the magazine “Blues and Soul”, which was like a house journal for anyone interested in the music at the time. It was used to distinguish the particular type of music played in these Northern clubs, from the more mainstream soul music that tended to be played in southern nightclubs.

I first started going to the Golden Torch around 1967-8, before it was even fully a “Northern Soul” club. At the time, during the week, it played a range of music including reggae, which catered for the large number of skinheads who attended. From the start, the vast majority of people who were involved were working-class, and the music, the dancing and culture were ours. By the late 1960's, and into the 1970's, the number of clubs had proliferated. Everywhere you went, youth clubs were playing Northern at the week night discos. Mainstream venues in the North, like the Top Rank began to convert their Saturday night discos to Motown and Northern. The Torch had taken over the mantle of the Wheel, when it closed, and similarly, when the Torch was closed down, in 1973, having started the phenomena of the “All-Nighter”, the mantle was passed to Wigan Casino, which became the epitome of Northern Soul. Its reported that on a hut part way up Mount Everest, someone has written “Wigan Casino rules”! Instead of dying out with the increasing age of those of us who were there at the beginning, it has continued to grow. New generations have now been recruited, and there are northern soul clubs all over the world.

Its almost impossible to define what makes a particular record Northern Soul, because it varies from the very slow to the very fast etc. Some of what passed for Northern was not soul music at all. In order to know it, you have to hear it, and these posts are designed for that purpose to spread knowledge and understanding of this important working class cultural phenomenon.

This index is organised in alphabetical order of artist, with a separate miscellaneous section covering a number of videos about the genre.

Isley Brothers - Tell Me Its Just A Rumour Baby, with Funk Brothers Instrumental.


Etta James & Sugar Pie DeSanto - Do I make Myself Clear? with "Seven Day Fool" as Bonus Track
Major Lance - Monkey Time
Jackie Lee - Anything You Want


Dean Parrish - I'm On My Way, with also video of Keb Darge and Paul Weller, and Dean Parrish's rendition of Paul Weller's "Left, Right & Centre."

The "Q" - That's The Way

Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels - You Get Your Kicks, featuring also "Devil In A Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly", and "C.C. Rider/Jenny Take A Ride".
Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels - Little Latin Lupe Lu


Mary Wells - Can't You See You're Gonna Lose Me, plus James Carr - Freedom Train