Sunday, July 01, 2007

Northern Soul

There's a debate raging on the Soulful Detroit website about the origins of the term Northern Soul.

The term was coined by Dave Godin in the late 60s, but it seems that some soul fans in the US can't understand why some obscure Motown-esque tracks from the late 60s should have been picked up by fans in Wigan and elsewhere in the north and turned into a cult. I must admit that I sympathise with them to some extent. I lived in Wigan in the 1970s and even went to the Casino a couple of times and I love soul music, but when I go to a Northern Soul gig nowadays I can recognise maybe one in four of the tracks the DJs are playing. It has to be said that although there are some fantastic Northern Soul records, there are many that seem rather samey. Somehow I don't have the energy to familiarise myself with all the records and artists loved by the cultists, not to mention the club scene that still exists. My soul tastes veer towards Southern, rather than Northern soul. This term refers to the area of the US where the music originated, rather than the area of the UK where it later became popular, which seems more logical somehow.

A couple of pictures to illustrate my tastes - of the great Sam Cooke, in many ways the founder of soul music, and Mary Wells (also much loved by the Northern fans). Wasn't she gorgeous at the time?


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