Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1095

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Review

A COMPLETE INTRODUCTION TO NORTHERN SOUL: VARIOUS ARTISTS

A Complete Introduction to Northern Soul

 

6.0

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UK release date 17.11.2008

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âIt all began in the mid-60s, an era of remarkable creativity which weâve all been dining on ever sinceâ wrote Dave Godin -

Who actually coined the phrase 'Northern Soul' to distinguish music that was being played in Northern clubs to that being played in clubs in London and the Home Counties. Dave was a forerunner in the promotion of soul/black music in this country and his legendary reputation for this is world known.

He was tireless in his promotion and he continued to spread the word and keep the faith up to his death in October 2004. Suffice to say then, the musicâs history is exciting and ground-breaking, and ultra-talented artists who stood no chance of breaking into the commercial market were adopted by DJs and fans who lovingly supported the Northern scene.

It was an iconic period in soul music which, despite its underground status, still holds its head high today, and Russ Winstanley, one of the foremost DJs of the era and founder of the Wigan Casino, proves this by compiling and releasing a beautifully presented 4-cd box set of the finest grooves to fill dance floors where some of the routines resembled energetic workouts or high speed choreographed steps that generally climaxed with spins, the splits or jumps. (Phew, that sentence was longer than some of the singles played!)

Naturally I immediately zoomed in on the Motown titles â and there are many mouth-watering musical adventures - from perhaps the lesser-known like Gladys Knightâs 'Youâve Lost That Lovinâ Feelinâ, the Four Tops 'Sweet Was The Love' from the Golden World vaults, or Debbie Deanâs 'Why Am I Lovin You' which Iâve treasured since the single was released in February 1968 on the VIP label. My copy is of course totally unplayable now, so this is a timely replacement. Right through to sublime slices of company classics from Martha Reeves, Tammi Terrell, David Ruffin, the Miracles, Brenda, Marvin, Chris,The Temptations with James Jamerson on 'Youâre My Everything'. And on and on. Couple these artists with Gloria Jones (have told her sheâs featured), The Tams, William Bell, Terry Callier , Jimmy Radcliffe (his version of 'Long After Tonight Is All Over' is quite remarkable) and Dean Parrish, among so many others, and itâs one helluva party!

Russ has compiled copious notes about the history of Northern Soul and the included tracks, with an eye-watering selection of visuals bringing faces to the music, to accompany the cds - a perfect companion. Yes, I visited Wigan Casino in those heady, hazy, smoky soulful days of the musicâs height, and remember during one visit watching in amazement as Dave Godin walked across a dancefloor with dancers parting as one to let him through to the stage, clapping him as he walked. And with Gloria Jones as she performed to a packed club of faithful fans, who knew more about her music than she did. Was it the champagne we consumed on the journey up? Probably! Ah, priceless memories in another lifetime. Dave Godin further wrote this in the book Chinwaggin âThe names of the clubs where Northern Soul ruled took on their own legendary status, as did the names and reputations of certain stalwart and ace DJs who were determined that what they and their friends out on the floor had collectively said âyesâ to would remain distinct, and, above all, autonomous.

Looking back it was inevitable that the Northern scene would gradually change, but when the history of soul music in the UK is written, its contribution to forwarding and advancing the cause of soul over here must never be underestimated. It was immense and its constancy protected soul from the whims of fans and fashions.

I might have coined the term and in my advantaged position as a journalist given it every encouragement, but it took thousands of loyal and ardent fans to keep (and spread) the faith, and in doing this, they gave black America their highest compliment and collective thanks.â He would have loved this release as much as I do.
Words SHARON DAVIS

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