Niche it!
BobbyGs Info
Northern soul

Music Sound

Northern soul

Back | Home | Up | Next

Northern Soul is a style of music with associated dance styles and fashions that developed in the north of England in the late 1960s. In the beginning, the dancing was athletic, featuring spins, flips, and drops. The music originally consisted of obscure American soul recordings with an uptempo beat, very similar to and including Tamla Motown and more obscure labels (e.g. Okeh) from northern United States cities like Detroit and Chicago (in contrast to southern styles like Memphis soul). By 1970, British performers were recording numbers for this market, and the scarcity of soul records with the required rhythm led to the playing of stompers, records by any artist that featured the right beat. The phrase 'Northern Soul' was coined by journalist Dave Godin sometime around 1971 in his column in Blues and Soul magazine.

A large proportion of Northern Soul's original audience came from the mod movement, with their love of soul music. As some mods turned away from these sounds to embrace the psychedelic movement of the late 1960s, many mods - especially those in northern England - elected to stick to the original soundtrack of soul and ska. Some became what would eventually be known as skinheads, and others formed the basis of the Northern Soul scene.

Early Northern Soul fashion included bowling shirts, button-down collar shirts, blazers with centre vents and unusual numbers of buttons, and baggy trousers. Many dancers wore badges representing membership in clubs organized by dance halls.

The first club that effectively defined the Northern Soul sound was northern England's Twisted Wheel Club. Other early clubs were the Torch in Stoke, Wigan Casino, the Blackpool Mecca, the Mojo in Sheffield and Cleethorpes Winter Gardens (still a Northern Soul venue today) and Va Va's (where Richard Searling used to DJ).

Northern Soul is among the most expensive of musical genres to collect. Hundreds of 7" vinyl discs have broken the £1,000 (c.$2,000) barrier. Frank Wilson's "Do I Love You" sold several years ago for £15,000 (c.$30,000). The value of many discs has appreciated due to rarity, quality of the beat, melody and lyrics (often expressing heartache, pain or joy related to romantic love). In later years, many Northern Soul fans went on to expand their collections and accommodated the richer and more complex Modern soul sound in the early-1970s and beyond (tracks such as Garfield Fleming's - "Please Don't Send Me Away" exemplify this).

Many Northern Soul artists attempted stardom without all of the necessary ingredients in place. Low-budget independent labels couldn't deliver the necessary promotion and radio play. Many artists had to go back to their day jobs, thinking themselves failures, with their records sinking into obscurity, until they were revived in the Northern Soul circuit. Songs by the Fascinations and the Velvelettes that were released in the 1960s became top 40 UK hits in 1970. The Fascinations made #30 with "Girls Are Out to Getcha" and the Velvelettes made #35 with "These Things Will Keep Me Loving You."

Some acts have been over to England to perform their golden oldies at all-nighters, often many years after the original releases. In the 21st century, rare 1960s soul sounds are still being discoverd by fans, and Northern Soul is still going strong around the world.

External links

Further reading

  • Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton [1999] (2000). “Northern Soul: After Tonight Is All Over”, Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey, 75-105, New York: Grove Press. ISBN 0802136885.
  • "The Northern Soul Top 500" by Kev Roberts - 2000 ISBN 0953929108.


  • n.a (1984). "Northern Soul–A Beginners Guide to this English Phenomenon". Soul Survivor, 1(1), 23-24.
Soul music
Girl group - Motown Sound - Northern soul - Psychedelic soul - Memphis soul - Neo soul - Funk - Hip hop soul - Disco

Home | Up | Boogaloo | Chicago soul | Funk | Neo soul | Girl groups | Soca music | Memphis soul | Modern soul | Motown Sound | Neo soul | Northern soul | Philadelphia soul | Psychedelic soul | Soul blues

Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.