5 Reasons 2: Love Northern Soul
Careful! You might enjoy this.
1: Always believe in the Underdog
You know when there is a genre of music you’ve definitely heard before. You’ve heard the name mentioned too, but you are not exactly sure what it is? Or what it actually sounds like??
Welcome to the sound of Northern Soul!!
Northern Soul is a genre of music that orginated in America in the mid1960’s and quickly crossed the Atlantic, in the opposite direction to most of the popular sounds of that time, to infiltrate the British music scene. It was quickly adopted by the Northern (hence the name!!) and Midland towns of the UK and championed by the British Mod scene in the early 70’s.
Based on a particular style of black American soul music, (popular in the mid-1960’s) with a heavy beat and fast tempo (100 bpm and above) it was a completely new sound to English ears and we were ready for it.
Think Motown’s poorer cousin, but funkier and much more raw in both production and sound!
Now I have wet your appetite, let's delve deeper into the funky goodness!
2: Party all Night!
Wigan, a city in Northern England just outside of Liverpool, was home to the Wigan Casino which began its weekly Northern Soul all-nighters in September 1973.
Although, there were numerous clubs in the UK that embraced this genre, including The Twisted Wheel in Manchester, The Highland Rooms @ Blackpool Mecca and The Golden Torch in Stoke on Trent, the most famous of them all was The Wigan Casino.
This venue had a much larger capacity than many of the competitors and ran its events from 2.00am until 8.00am every Saturday night!! There was a regular roster of DJs, including the promoters Russ Winstanley and Richard Searling.
Northern Should reached its peak of popularity in the mid to late 70's and by 1976, the club boasted a membership of 100,000 people, and in 1978, was voted the world's number one discotheque by Billboard Magazine.
This was all happening during the heyday of the Studio 54 nightclub in New York City yet no-one talks about how big this influence was and still is on todays music scene.
By the late 1970s, The Wigan Casino also had its own spin-off record label - Casino Classics.
3: Break Records
Northern Soul has had a huge influence on many of todays music genres including Disco, House Music, Soul, Nu Soul and Pop!!
One hugely successful pop cover of the Northern Soul staple is Gloria Jones's - Tainted Love. Initially covered by Soft Cell and Marc Almond it attained worldwide fame in 1981 and has since been covered by numerous groups and artists.
Buoyed by the then-dominant synth-pop sound of the time and a memorable performance on the BBC’s Top of the Pops, "Tainted Love" reached number one on the UK Singles Chart, and was the best-selling single of 1981 in the UK. Also becoming a major hit stateside during the Second British Invasion the song spent a then-record 43 weeks on the US Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number eight!!
Not bad for a fairly unknown American soul record that probably didn’t even make the charts in the US when originally released!!
4: Dance the night Away!
Northern Soul most definitely paved the way for the superstar DJ’s of the 2000's and has influenced how many of them mix tunes to create euphoric highs and lows for the crowds.
The 'white label' reference still given to limited edition pressings of vinyl, has been labelled as originating from Northern Soul, as during the height of the Northern Soul era competition between the different DJ's and Venues to always have the newest sounds caused them to cover up the labels. Playing original music, that no-one else had heard or played before is what earned the DJ's a cult like following at various venues across the North.
As the favoured beat became more uptempo and frantic in the early 1970s, northern soul dancing became more athletic, somewhat resembling and influencing the later dance styles of disco and break dancing. Featuring spins, flips, karate kicks and backdrops, club dancing styles were often inspired by the stage performances of touring American soul acts such as Little Anthony and the Imperials and Jackie Wilson.
5: Join the Cult
So as you can see - Northern Soul is quite simply a massive (fairly) unknown influencer for the majority of dance music styles that we appreciate today!! It still has a cult following and I dare you not to dance and smile when you hear a Northern Soul record!!
It also spawned the most expensive 45 record sale in the World!! Frank Wilson's 'Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)' is the holy grail for all Northern Soul record collectors! And in 2009 one of only 2 copies (apparently in the World!) sold for an amazing 25,743 GBP or $31,598.46 !!
Check out these videos to experience a little Northern Soul Love for yourself.
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