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Northern Soul

Era: late 60s - early 70s

Related: funk - deep funk - Dave Godin - Keb Darge - UK - American music - black music - Mods - Motown sound - rare - Skull Snaps - dance music

A large proportion of Northern Soul's original audience came from the UK Mod movement with their love of obscure American soul such the only LP of Skull Snaps listed below. [Mar 2006]

Skull Snaps (1973) Skull Snaps [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


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, plus more obscure labels (e.g. Okeh) from cities like Detroit and Chicago. By 1970 British performers were recording numbers for this market, and the scarcity of soul records with the required beat led to the playing of stompers, or records by any artist which featured the right beat.

Early Northern Soul fashion included bowling shirts, button-down collar shirts, blazers with centre vents and unusual numbers of buttons, and baggie trousers. Many dancers belonged to clubs organized by dance halls and wore club badges issued at each dance.

Foremost among the original clubs were those at the Torch in Stoke, Wigan Casino, the Blackpool Mecca, the Mojo in Sheffield, and the Twisted Wheel in Manchester.

In later years, Northern Soul became synonymous with the Motown Sound. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Soul [Apr 2005]

A description

During the latter part of the 60’s and into the 70’s British dancers were more used to letting their hair down to Northern Soul, a peculiarly British phenomenon. It was basically a collection of uptempo soul songs (usually over 125 bpm), a popular example of which was Edwin Starr’s “Agent Double O Soul” and Skull Snaps “My Hang up Is You ”. It developed out of the clubs in the North of England (hence the name Northern Soul) and caught on in a big way across the country. The lack of availability of new material inevitably spelt an end to the popularity of Northern Soul. -- Allan for Disco Roots

Rare Black American R&B and Soul music

The image of the Northern Soul scene - from the point of view of somebody who hasn't witnessed the phenomenon first hand over the last twenty-five years - is one of a devoted and resilient 'club' loyally and wholeheartedly subscribed to by thousands of fanatics. Sustained by a rich diet of rare Black American R&B and Soul music these 'disciples' would pack into venues to hear the sound of Motown, Ric-Tic, Revilot, Okeh, Goldenworld and a wealth of obscure labels that attempted, but most likely failed, to become the next Soul Empires. --J. Stirland via http://www.witchsbrew.co.uk/howdeepisyourfunk.htm [Jan 2005]


  1. Northern Soul Connoisseurs [Amazon.com]
    The mid 60's, Britain began embracing American Soul music, the Motown sound appealed more than earlier 60's soul records that been hits in the states. A club scene built up around the country that was dedicated to dancing to these records (which included Motown and other sounds from Detroit). The rest of England moved on to either Funk or Progressive Rock, hardcore soul fans in the North stayed with fast, four-beat dance music; searching out ever more rare examples of the sound they loved.

  2. Dave Godin's Deep Soul Treasures: Taken From Our Vaults, Vol. 1 [IMPORT] - Various Artists [Amazon US]
    Leslie from Detroit, MI Worth the cover price for "It's Not That Easy" by Reuben Bell & The Casanovas alone. The haunting guitar figure and Reuben's heartfelt cries make this a must-hear when I've had a few. I'm sure you know what I mean. The rest of it is great too. It's almost unbelievable how much raw, unknown talent coursed through the veins of this great country of ours way back in the day. Thank God crazed obsessives like Sir Godin have devoted their lives and untold piles of cash to unearthing these unheard classics.

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