UK’s Northern Soul, to those that knew the scene, was one of the most exciting and exhilarating music scenes in the 70s and 80s, and is enjoying a revival in UK on the heels of TV documentaries and film, recording the memories of its now aging fans for posterity.
It was the depressed state of Britain in the 70s that gave rise to one of the most exciting working class sub-cultures of the time. Similar to the 60s mods in the love of blues and soul music, but it was more about the dancing and release from life’s daily grind, and spawned legendary clubs and events, like Manchester’s Twisted Wheel, The Wigan Casino, Blackpool Mecca and Camden all-nighters, that eventually drew fans from all over the country.
Coach loads of young men and women would travel 2 or 3 hundred miles, even further, for a Saturday night release in venues that, in most cases, had seen better days, and listening to tunes, in many cases, by artists who had never been heard of much at home in the US, never mind across the Atlantic. Consequently, a number of artists found their careers given a boost of post career fame by the scene.
In my residencies in The Bird Nest, and Carriages in Swindon at the time, I spun northern soul almost exclusively on a Wednesday night to bring in the nearby fans, and regularly dropped short sets into the Thursday, Friday and Saturday gigs.
Accidentally termed ‘northern soul’ by a London record shop owner, because of the requests by football supporters visiting London from predominantly the Midlands and north of UK, alongside well known artists and sounds from Motown, where obscure US R&B and, in some cases, well known blue-eyed soul artists who had recorded music with just the right kind of beat to express yourself out on the floor…