Greatest Northern Soul Tracks

Northern Soul was vibrant youth movement that emerged in northern England in the late 1960s

Northern Soul was vibrant youth movement that emerged in northern England in the late 1960s. It was sustained by a current of black American soul music based on the 1960s sound of Tamla Motown with its heavy beat and fast tempo. Growing out of the British mod scene, Northern Soul became a fully-fledged subculture, with its own music, fashion, dance styles, drugs and geography. This was called Northern soul, not because it originated from the northern states of America, but because this particular style of soul music was celebrated in northern English towns and cities like Manchester, Wigan and Blackpool.

The phrase northern soul was coined by journalist Dave Godin in his weekly column in Blues and Soul magazine in June 1970. Godin came up with the term to help employees at his record shop (Soul City in Covent Garden) to differentiate the modern funky sounds from the smoother, Motown-influenced soul of a few years earlier:

I had started to notice that northern football fans who were in London to follow their team were coming into the store to buy records, but they weren’t interested in the latest developments in the black American chart. I devised the name as a shorthand sales term. It was just to say ‘if you’ve got customers from the north, don’t waste time playing them records currently in the U.S. black chart, just play them what they like - ‘Northern Soul’.  Northern soul reached the peak of its popularity in the mid to late 1970s. At this time, there were soul clubs in virtually every major town in the midlands and the north of England.

Please check out my top twenty list of great Northern Soul tracks.  The list is totally subjective, but few people could disagree that Frank Wilson's ultra-rare track 'Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)' is one of the all-time classic Northern Soul records.  Any suggestions or additions will be very welcome. 

1. Frank Wilson - Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)

Frank Wilson was songwriter and producer for Motown Records.  Wilson also tried his hand at being a recording artist himself, recording 'Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)' for release on Motown's subsidiary label 'Soul.' Supposedly 250 demo 45s were pressed, but by that time Frank Wilson decided he would rather focus on producing and had the demos trashed. Somehow two known copies survived, one of which fetched over £25,000 in May 2009.  Because of the scarcity of the original single and the high quality of the music, it has been championed as one of the rarest and most valuable records in history.

2. The Marvelletes - Danger and Heartbreak Dead Ahead 

The Marvelettes were Motown's first successful female vocal group, notable for recording the company's first #1  hit, 'Please Mr. Postman', and for setting the precedent for later Motown girl groups such as Martha and the Vandellas and the Supremes.

3. Al Wilson - The Snake

4. The M.V.P.'s - Turnin' My Heartbeat Up

5. Chuck Woods - Seven Days Too Long

6. The Invitations - Skiing In The Snow

7. The Casualeers - Dance Dance Dance

8. Mel Britt - She'll Come Running Back

9. Tony Clarke - Landslide

10. Sandi Sheldon - You're Gonna Make Me Love You

11. Jackie Wilson - (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher

12. Billy Butler - Right Track

13. Jerry Williams - If You Ask Me (Because I Love You)

14. Major Lance - You Don't Want Me No More

15. Roy Hamilton - Crackin' Up Over You

16. Little Anthony & The Imperials - Better Use Your Head

17. Bobby Paris - I Walked Away

18. Lainie Hill - Time Marches On

19. Shawn Robinson - My Dear Heart

20. Ila Vann Can't Help - Lovin' Dat Man

Please see my article on Northern Soul for more information:

Keep the Faith!


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