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Northern soul

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Title: Northern soul  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Soul music, British soul, New Orleans soul, Jamo Thomas, Modern soul
Collection: History of Subcultures, Musical Subcultures, Soul Music Genres, Youth Culture in the United Kingdom
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Northern soul

Northern soul is a music and dance movement that emerged independently in Northern England, the English Midlands, Scotland and Wales[1] in the late 1960s from the British mod scene. Northern soul mainly consists of a particular style of black American soul music based on the heavy beat and fast tempo of the mid-1960s Tamla Motown sound.

The northern soul movement, however, generally eschews Motown or Motown-influenced music that has had significant mainstream commercial success. The recordings most prized by enthusiasts of the genre are usually by lesser-known artists, released only in limited numbers, often by small regional American labels such as Ric-Tic and Golden World Records (Detroit), Mirwood (Los Angeles) and Shout and Okeh (New York/Chicago).

Northern soul is associated with particular dance styles and fashions that grew out of the underground rhythm & soul scene of the late 1960s at venues such as the Twisted Wheel in Manchester. This scene and the associated dances and fashions quickly spread to other UK dancehalls and nightclubs like the Chateau Impney (Droitwich), Catacombs (Wolverhampton), the Highland Rooms at Blackpool Mecca, Golden Torch (Stoke-on-Trent) and Wigan Casino.

As the favoured beat became more uptempo and frantic, by the early 1970s, northern soul dancing became more athletic, somewhat resembling the later dance styles of disco and break dancing. Featuring spins, flips, karate kicks and backdrops, club dancing styles were often inspired by the stage performances of touring American soul acts such as Little Anthony & The Imperials and Jackie Wilson.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, popular northern soul records generally dated from the mid-1960s. This meant that the movement was sustained (and "new" recordings added to playlists) by prominent DJs discovering rare and previously overlooked records. Later on, certain clubs and DJs began to move away from the 1960s Motown sound and began to play newer releases with a more contemporary sound.


  • History 1
    • 1970s 1.1
    • 1980s and later 1.2
  • Music, artists and records 2
    • Music style 2.1
    • Rarity of northern soul records 2.2
    • Hits and favourites 2.3
  • Fashion and imagery 3
  • Drugs 4
  • Cultural legacy 5
    • Influence on DJ culture 5.1
    • Influence on musicians 5.2
    • Literature 5.3
    • Theatre 5.4
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Bibliography 8
  • External links 9


The phrase northern soul emanated from the record shop Soul City in Covent Garden, London, which was run by journalist Dave Godin.[2] It was first publicly used in Godin's weekly column in Blues & Soul magazine in June 1970.[3] In a 2002 interview with Chris Hunt of Mojo magazine, Godin said he had first come up with the term in 1968, to help employees at Soul City differentiate the more modern funkier sounds from the smoother, Motown-influenced soul of a few years earlier. With contemporary black music evolving into what would eventually become known as funk, the die-hard soul lovers of northern England still preferred the mid-1960s era of Motown-sounding black American dance music. Godin referred to the latter's requests as "Northern Soul":

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'.[4]

The venue most commonly associated with the early development of the northern soul scene was the Twisted Wheel in Manchester. The club began in the early 1950s as a beatnik coffee bar called The Left Wing, but in early 1963, the run-down premises were leased by two Manchester businessmen (Ivor and Phil Abadi) and turned into a music venue.[5] Initially, the Twisted Wheel mainly hosted live music on the weekends and Disc Only nights during the week. Starting in September 1963, the Abadi brothers promoted all-night parties at the venue on Saturday nights, with a mixture of live and recorded music. DJ Roger Eagle, a collector of imported American soul, jazz and rhythm and blues, was booked around this time, and the club's reputation as a place to hear and dance to the latest American R&B music began to grow. However, other towns and cities across England had similar enthusiasts around this time who would tune into pirate radio broadcasts, and record shops would help bring the U.S. soul sound into Britain. Pubs such as the Eagle in Birmingham were frequented by young British soul singers such as Steve Winwood and Robert Plant, who both released songs of similar style to the early U.S. soul sounds, and the emphasis in the Midlands was more on live soul bands than discos.

Throughout the mid-1960s, the Twisted Wheel became the focus of Manchester’s emerging mod scene, with a music policy that reflected Eagle’s eclectic tastes in soul and jazz, and featuring live performances by British beat musicians and American R&B stars. Gradually, the music policy became less eclectic and shifted heavily towards fast-paced soul, in response to the demands of the growing crowds of amphetamine-fuelled dancers who flocked to the all-nighters. Dismayed at the change in music policy and the frequent drug raids by the police, Eagle quit the club in 1966.

Commemorative sew-on patch similar to those worn by Twisted Wheel members.

By 1968 the reputation of the Twisted Wheel and the type of music being played there had grown nationwide and soul fans were travelling from all over the United Kingdom to attend the Saturday all-nighters. Until his departure in 1968, resident 'All Niter' DJ Bob Dee compiled and supervised [6] the playlist, utilising the newly developed slip-cueing technique to spin the vinyl. Rarer, more up-tempo records were added to the playlist in 1969 by the new younger DJ's up until the club's eventual closure in 1971.[7][8] After attending one of the venue's all-nighters in November 1970, Godin wrote: " is without doubt the highest and finest I have seen outside of the USA... never thought I'd live to see the day where people could so relate the rhythmic content of Soul music to bodily movement to such a skilled degree!"[9] The venue’s owners had successfully filled the vacancy left by Eagle with a growing roster of specialist soul DJs.

The Twisted Wheel gained a reputation as a drug haven, and under pressure from the police and other authorities, the club closed in January 1971. However, by the late 1960s, the popularity of the music and lifestyle associated with the club had spread further across the north and midlands of England, and a number of new venues had begun to host soul all-nighters. These included the King Mojo in Sheffield, The Catacombs in Wolverhampton, Room at the Top in Wigan, Va Va's in Bolton & Shades (Northampton) the top Northern Soul venue further south of England.


Commemorative sew-on patch similar to those worn by Golden Torch members.

Northern soul reached the peak of its popularity in the mid to late 1970s.[10] At this time, there were soul clubs in virtually every major town in the midlands and the north of England.[11] The three venues regarded as the most important in this decade were the Golden Torch in Tunstall, Stoke (1971 to 1972), Blackpool Mecca (1971 to 1979) and Wigan Casino (1973 to 1981).

Although Wigan Casino is now the most well known, the best attended northern soul all-night venue at the beginning of the decade was actually the Golden Torch, where regular Friday night soul "all-nighters" began during the latter months of 1970. Chris Burton, the owner, stated that by 1972, the club had a membership of 12,500, and had hosted 62,000 separate customer visits.[12] Despite its popularity, the club closed down due to licensing problems in March 1972 and attention switched to soul nights at Blackpool Mecca's Highland Room, which had started hosting rare soul nights a few months earlier.

Commemorative sew-on patch similar to those designed by Russ Winstanley and sold at the Wigan Casino.

Wigan Casino began its weekly soul all-nighters in September 1973.[13] Wigan Casino had a much larger capacity than many competing venues and ran its events from 2am until 8am. There was a regular roster of DJs, including the promoter Russ Winstanley. By 1976, the club boasted a membership of 100,000 people, and in 1978, was voted the world's number one discotheque by Billboard Magazine.[14] This was all going during the heyday of the Studio 54 nightclub in New York City. By the late 1970s, the club had its own spin-off record label, Casino Classics.[15]

By this time, Wigan Casino was coming under criticism from many soul fans about selling out the format and playing 'anything that came along'. Contemporary black American soul was changing with the advent of funk, disco and jazz-funk, and the supply of recordings with the fast-paced northern soul sound began to dwindle rapidly. As a result, Wigan Casino DJs resorted to playing any kind of record that matched the correct tempo.[16] Also, the club was subjected to heavy media coverage and began to attract many otherwise uninterested people of whom the soul purists did not approve.[17]

Blackpool Mecca was popular throughout the 1970s, although the venue never hosted all-nighters. The regular Saturday night events began at 8pm and finished at 2am, and initially, some dancers would begin their evenings at Blackpool Mecca and then transfer to Wigan Casino. In 1974, the music policy at Blackpool Mecca sharply diverged from Wigan Casino's, with the regular DJs Ian Levine and Colin Curtis including newly released US soul in their sets. While the tempo was similar to the earlier Motown Records-style recordings, this shift in emphasis heralded a slightly different style of northern soul dancing and dress styles at Blackpool Mecca and created a schism in the northern soul movement between Wigan Casino's traditionalists and Blackpool Mecca's wider approach, which accepted the more contemporary sounds of Philly soul, early disco and funk.

Other major northern soul venues in the 1970s include The Catacombs in Wolverhampton, Va Va's in Bolton, the 'Talk of The North' all-nighters at The Pier and Winter Gardens in Cleethorpes, Tiffany’s in Coalville, Samantha’s in Sheffield, Neil Rushton's 'Heart of England' soul club all-dayers at The Ritz in Manchester and the Nottingham Palais.[18] As the 1970s progressed, the northern soul scene expanded even further nationally. There was a notable scene in the east of England, Shades Northampton was one of the leading venue's in this part of the country during the early 70's until it closed it doors in 1975. Later came the all-nighters at the St. Ivo Centre in St. Ives, the Phoenix Soul club at the Wirrina Stadium in Peterborough and the Howard Mallett in Cambridge.[19] Other towns with notable northern soul venues at this time included Kettering, Coventry, Bournemouth, Southampton and Bristol.[11]

1980s and later

When Wigan Casino closed in 1981, many believed that the northern soul scene was on the verge of disintegrating. However, the 1970s mod revival, the thriving scooterboy subculture and the acid jazz movement produced a new wave of fans. The popularity of the music was further bolstered in the 1980s by a wave of reissues and compilation albums from small British independent record labels. Many of these labels were set up by DJs and collectors who had been part of the original northern soul scene. The 1980s — often dismissed as a low period for northern soul by those who had left the scene in the 1970s — featured almost 100 new venues in places as diverse as Bradford, London, Peterborough, Leighton Buzzard, Whitchurch, Coventry and Leicester. Pre-eminent among the 1980s venues were Stafford's Top of the World and London's 100 Club.

Today there are regular northern soul events in various parts of the United Kingdom, such as The Nightshift Club all-nighters at the Bisley Pavilion in Surrey and the Prestatyn Weekender in North Wales.[20] In an August 2008 article in The Times, broadcaster Terry Christian argued that northern soul was undergoing a distinct revival in the late 2000s.[21] Christian cited the popularity of regular revivals of Twisted Wheel soul all-nighters at the original venue (in Whitworth Street, Manchester) plus the Beat Boutique northern soul all-nighters at the Ruby Lounge and MMUnion in Manchester. Many of those who ceased their involvement in the late 1970s have now returned to the scene and regularly participate in such events.[22][23] As of 2009, Paul O'Grady has included a Northern Soul Triple in his weekly BBC Radio 2 show. He plays three northern soul hits, often at the request of his listeners.[24]

The northern soul soul movement inspired the movie Soulboy (2010), directed by Shimmy Marcus, and at least one novel: Do I Love You? (2008) by Paul McDonald.[25][26][27] In June 2010, theatre director Fiona Laird wrote and directed Keeping the Faith, a musical based on the Wigan Casino scene and featuring northern soul music. It was staged at the Central School of Speech and Drama's Webber Douglas Studio, with a revival at the same venue in September 2010.

The music of Yorkshire singer John Newman, one of the most successful English musicians of 2013, has been described as 'northern soul', including his #1 hit "Love Me Again". One version of the video for the song features stereotypical northern soul dancing. Additionally, the track samples the famous soul drum break from James Brown's "Funky Drummer", performed by Clyde Stubblefield.

Music, artists and records

Photograph of the original release (left) and a re-issue copy (right) of Gloria Jones' Tainted Love

In the book Last Night A DJ Saved My Life: the history of the DJ, the authors describe northern soul as "a genre built from failures", stating: "...Northern Soul was the music made by hundreds of singers and bands who were copying the Detroit sound of Motown pop. Most of the records were complete failures in their own time and place... but in northern England from the end of the 1960s through to its heyday in the middle 1970s, were exhumed and exalted."[28]

Music style

The music style most associated with northern soul is the heavy, syncopated beat and fast tempo of mid-1960s Motown Records, which was usually combined with soulful vocals. These types of records, which suited the athletic dancing that was prevalent, became known on the scene as stompers.[29] Notable examples include Tony Clarke’s "Landslide" (popularised by Ian Levine at Blackpool Mecca)[30] and Gloria Jones’ "Tainted Love" (purchased by Richard Searling on a trip to the United States in 1973 and popularised at Va Va’s in Bolton, and later, Wigan Casino).[31] According to northern soul DJ Ady Croadsell, viewed retrospectively, the earliest recording to possess this style was the 1965 single "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" by The Four Tops, although that record was never popular in the northern soul scene because it was too mainstream.[32]

Other related music styles also gained acceptance in the northern soul scene. Slower, less-danceable soul records were often played, such as Barbara Mills' "Queen Of Fools" (popular in 1972 at the Golden Torch)[33] and The Mob’s "I Dig Everything About You".[34] Every all-nighter at Wigan Casino ended with the playing of three well-known northern soul songs with a particular going home theme. These came to be known as the "3 before 8" and were: "Time Will Pass You By" by Tobi Legend, "Long After Tonight Is Over" by Jimmy Radcliffe, and "I'm on My Way" by Dean Parrish.[35] Commercial pop songs that matched the up-tempo beat of the stompers were also played at some venues, including The Ron Grainer Orchestra’s instrumental "Theme From Joe 90" at Wigan Casino[36] and The Just Brothers’ surf-guitar song "Sliced Tomatoes" at Blackpool Mecca.[37]

As the scene developed in the mid and late 1970s, the more contemporary and rhythmically sophisticated sounds of disco and Philly Soul became accepted at certain venues following its adoption at Blackpool Mecca. This style is typified musically by the O'Jays' "I Love Music" (UK #13, January 1976), which gained popularity before its commercial release at Blackpool Mecca in late 1975. The record that initially popularised this change is usually cited as The Carstairs "It Really Hurts Me Girl" (Red Coach), a record initially released late in 1973 on promotional copies - but quickly withdrawn due to lack of interest from American Radio stations.[38][39] The hostility towards any contemporary music style from northern soul traditionalists at Wigan Casino led to the creation of the spin-off modern soul movement in the early 1980s.

Rarity of northern soul records

Some northern soul records were so rare that only a handful of copies were known to exist, so specific DJs and clubs became associated with particular records that were almost exclusively in their own playlists. Keith Rylatt and Phil Scott wrote: "As venues such as the Twisted Wheel evolved into northern soul clubs in the late 1960s and the dancers increasingly demanded newly discovered sounds, DJs began to acquire and play rare and often deleted US releases that had not gained even a release in the UK."[40] These records were sometimes obtained through specialist importers or, in some cases, by DJs visiting the US and purchasing old warehouse stock.[41] Many of the original singers and musicians remained unaware of their newfound popularity for many years.[42]

As the scene increased in popularity, a network of UK record dealers emerged who could acquire further copies of the original vinyl and supply them to fans at prices commensurate with their rarity and desirability.[41] Later on, a number of UK record labels capitalised on the booming popularity of northern soul and negotiated licenses for certain popular records from the copyright holders and reissue them as new 45s or compilation LPs. Among these labels were Casino Classics, PYE Disco Demand, Inferno, Kent Modern and Goldmine.[43][44]

The notoriety of DJs on the northern soul scene was enhanced by the possession of rare records, but exclusivity was not enough on its own, and the records had to conform to a certain musical style and gain acceptance on the dance floor.[45] Northern soul collectors seek rare singles by artists such as Holly Maxwell,[46] Gene Chandler, Barbara Acklin, The Casualeers,[47] and Jimmy Burns.[48] Frank Wilson's "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)" has been rated the rarest and most valuable northern soul single.[49] In December 2014 collectors were bidding in excess of £11,000 for a copy of the London Records version of Darrell Banks' Open the Door to Your Heart, thought to be the only copy in circulation. It had previously been thought that all the original versions had been destroyed when rival label EMI won the rights to release the single.[50]

Hits and favourites

The northern soul movement spawned an active market in reissuing older soul recordings in the UK, several of which became popular enough to actually make the UK charts several years after their original issue. Dave Godin is generally credited with being the first UK entrepreneur to start this trend, setting up the Soul City label in 1968, and striking a deal with EMI to license Gene Chandler's 1965 recording "Nothing Can Stop Me", which had been popular for several years at the Twisted Wheel. Issued as a 45 on Soul City, the track peaked at UK #41 in August, 1968, becoming the first Northern Soul-derived chart hit. A few months later in January 1969, Jamo Thomas' 1966 single "I Spy (For The FBI)" was similarly licensed and reissued, hitting UK #44.

The trend continued into the 1970s, as many songs from the 1960s that were revived on the Northern Soul scene were reissued by their original labels and became UK top 40 hits. These include The Tams' 1964 recording "Hey Girl Don't Bother Me" (UK #1, July 1971) - which was popularized by Midlands DJ Carl Dene -The Fascinations' 1966 single "Girls Are Out to Get You" (UK #32, 1971), The Newbeats' 1965 American hit "Run Baby Run" (UK #10, Oct 1971), Bobby Hebb's "Love Love Love" which was originally the B-side of "A Satisfied Mind" (UK #32 August 1972), Robert Knight's "Love On A Mountain Top" of 1968 (UK #10, November 1973), and R. Dean Taylor’s "There's a Ghost in My House" from 1967 (UK #3, May 1974).

The northern soul scene also spawned many lesser chart hits, including Al Wilson's 1968 cut "The Snake" (UK #41 in 1975), Dobie Gray's "Out On The Floor" (UK #42, September 1975) and Little Anthony & The Imperials' "Better Use Your Head" (UK #42 July 1976).

A variety of recordings were made later in the 1970s that were specifically aimed at the northern soul scene, which also went on to become UK top 40 hits. These included: The Exciters’ "Reaching For The Best" (UK #31, October 1975), L.J Johnson's "Your Magic Put A Spell On Me" (UK #27, February 1976),[51] Tommy Hunt’s "Loving On The Losing Side" (UK #28, August 1976) and "Footsee" by Wigan’s Chosen Few (UK #9, January 1975).[52]

"Goodbye Nothing To Say", by the white British group The Javells, was identified by Dave McAleer of Pye's Disco Demand label as having an authentic northern soul feel. McAleer gave a white label promotional copy to Russ Winstanley (a Wigan Casino DJ and promoter), and the tune became popular among the dancers at the venue. Disco Demand then released the song as a 45 RPM single, reaching UK #26 in November 1974. To promote the single on BBC's Top Of The Pops, the performer was accompanied by two Wigan Casino dancers.[53]

In 2000, Wigan Casino DJ Kev Roberts compiled The Northern Soul Top 500, which was based on a survey of northern soul fans.[54] The top ten songs were: "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)" by Frank Wilson, "Out on the Floor" by Dobie Gray, "You Didn't Say a Word" by Yvonne Baker, "The Snake" by Al Wilson, "Long After Tonight is Over" by Jimmy Radcliffe, "Seven Day Lover" by James Fountain, "You Don't Love Me" by Epitome of Sound, "Looking for You" by Garnet Mimms, "If That's What You Wanted" by Frankie Beverly & the Butlers, and "Seven Days Too Long" by Chuck Wood.

Fashion and imagery

Photograph of a sew-on patch featuring the clenched fist symbol adopted by the northern soul movement

A large proportion of northern soul's original audience came from within the 1960s mod subculture. In the late 1960s, when some mods started to embrace freakbeat and psychedelic rock, other mods - especially those in northern England - stuck to the original mod soundtrack of soul and Blue Beat. From the latter category, two strands emerged: skinheads and the northern soul scene.

Early northern soul fashion included strong elements of the classic mod style, such as button-down Ben Sherman shirts, blazers with centre vents and unusual numbers of buttons, Trickers and brogue shoes and shrink-to-fit Levi's jeans.[55] Some non-mod items, such as bowling shirts, were also popular. Later, northern soul dancers started to wear light and loose-fitting clothing for reasons of practicality. This included high-waisted, baggy Oxford trousers and sports vests. These were often covered with sew-on badges representing soul club memberships.

The clenched raised fist symbol that has become associated with the northern soul movement emanates from the 1960s Black Power movement of the United States.[56] On his visit to the Twisted Wheel in 1971, Dave Godin recalled that "...very many young fellows wore black "right on now" racing gloves ... between records one would hear the occasional cry of "Right on now!" or see a clenched gloved fist rise over the tops of the heads of the dancers!"[57]


In 2007, Andrew Wilson (lecturer in criminology at the University of Sheffield) published the extensively researched sociological study Northern Soul: Music, drugs and subcultural identity. This work details in some depth the lifestyles associated with the Northern soul scene and the extensive use of amphetamines (otherwise known as speed) by many involved. Wilson argues that, although many did not use drugs, their usage was heavily ingrained in the fast-paced culture of the northern soul scene, contributing to participants' ability to stay up all night dancing. Many clubs and events were closed down or refused licences due to the concern of local authorities that soul nights attracted drug dealers and users.[58] Roger Eagle, DJ at the Twisted Wheel club in Manchester, cited amphetamine usage among participants as his reason for quitting the club in 1967. Of the regular attendees he said, "All they wanted was fast-tempo black dance music... [but they were] too blocked on amphetamines to articulate exactly which Jackie Wilson record they wanted me to play."[59]

Cultural legacy

The northern soul scene has had a notable influence on DJ culture, certain musicians, and has been portrayed in literature, theatre and cinema.

Influence on DJ culture

The northern soul movement is cited by many as being a significant step towards the creation of contemporary club culture and of the superstar DJ culture of the 2000s.[60] Two of the most notable DJs from the original northern soul era are Russ Winstanley and Ian Levine. As in contemporary club culture, northern soul DJs built up a following based on satisfying the crowd's desires for music that they could not hear anywhere else. The competitiveness between DJs to unearth 'in-demand' sounds led them to cover up the labels on their records, giving rise to the modern white label pressing. Many argue that northern soul was instrumental in creating a network of clubs, DJs, record collectors and dealers in the UK, and was the first music scene to provide the British charts with records that sold entirely on the strength of club play.[61]

A technique employed by northern soul DJs in common with their later counterparts was the sequencing of records to create euphoric highs and lows for the crowd. Many of the DJ personalities and their followers involved in the original northern soul movement went on to become important figures in the house and dance music scenes.[62] Notable among these are Mike Pickering, who introduced house music to The Haçienda in Manchester in the 1980s, the influential DJ Colin Curtis, Neil Rushton the A&R manager of the House music record label Kool Kat Music and the dance record producers Pete Waterman, Johnathan Woodliffe, Ian Dewhirst and Ian Levine.

Australian DJ and PBS FM radio presenter Vince Peach[63] absorbed the Northern Soul culture at the Twisted Wheel, (where he also DJ'd[64]), and took it to Australia in 1982, commencing a dedicated radio program Soul Time in 1984,[65] which continues and is believed to be the longest running Soul program in the World.[66]

Craig Charles represents Northern Soul in The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show on BBC's Radio 6 Music.

Influence on musicians

Northern soul has influenced several notable musicians. Terry Christian — in his 2008 article about northern soul for The Times — wrote: "There's an instant credibility for any artist or brand associated with a scene that has always been wild, free and grassroots."

  • Soft Cell had chart success in the early 1980s with covers of two popular northern soul songs, "Tainted Love" (originally recorded by Gloria Jones) and "What?" (originally recorded by Melinda Marx on VJ, 1965, Judy Street 1966 and Tina Mason 1967). Soft Cell member Dave Ball used to occasionally attend soul nights at Blackpool Mecca and Wigan Casino.[67]
  • Moloko's video for "Familiar Feeling" is set against a northern soul backdrop and was directed by Elaine Constantine, a longstanding northern soul enthusiast. The video was choreographed by DJ Keb Darge, who rose to prominence at the Stafford Top Of The World all-nighters in the 1980s.[68]
  • Fatboy Slim's 1998 big beat single "The Rockafeller Skank" samples The Just Brothers' "Sliced Tomatoes". The song reached number 6 in the UK Singles Chart and also had success in many other countries.
  • The music video for Duffy's 2008 song "Mercy" features Duffy singing on a platform, accompanied by northern soul dancers performing elaborate moves.[69]
  • Plan B’s 2010 album, The Defamation Of Strickland Banks displays a significant northern soul influence.[70][71][72] The video for "Stay Too Long" features northern soul-style dance moves such as spins, flips and backdrops. The album sleeve features northern soul-style sew-on patches.
  • The video for John Newman's 'Love Me Again' also features Northern Soul Dancing as a backdrop to a Romeo and Juliet style romance.
  • The video for The Courteeners 'Are You In Love With a Notion' also features Northern Soul dancing.
  • The video for Above and Beyond's 'Sun and Moon' also contains Northern Soul dancing.


The northern soul subculture has spawned a number of memoirs, novels and short stories. Maxwell Murray's Crackin Up: A Tale of Sex Drugs and Northern Soul was published in 1999.[73] Ian Snowball and Pete McKenna published In the Blood in 2012[74] and a volume including their All Souled Out short stories and Nightshift memoir in 2013.[75] Both focus on the East London scene. Chris Rose's 2014 Wood, Talc and Mr J takes a more literary approach and is based on the Sheffield scene.[76][77] The "Mr J" in the title is Chuck Jackson.


Northern Soul is the title of a 2012 theatre piece by the British visual and performance artist, Victoria Melody. According to a description on the Solo Theatre website,[78] 'Victoria, an untrained dancer, has been travelling the dance halls and living rooms of England being taught to dance by Northern Soul’s ex-champions. Northern Soul draws on those investigations and explores the ‘soul of the north’ using film and original Northern Soul dance moves.'[79]

See also


  1. ^ David Nowell The Story of Northern Soul, p. 79 Anova Books, 1999, ISBN 1907554726, accessed 11 May 2014
  2. ^ Neil Rushton, Northern Soul Stories, Chapter 1, page 15
  3. ^ Dave Godin. "The Up-North Soul Groove", Blues & Soul magazine, June 1970
  4. ^
  5. ^ Haslam, Dave, Manchester, England. 4th Estate. 1999
  6. ^ David Nowell, Too Darn Soulful: The Story of Northern Soul page 35
  7. ^ Bolton Evening News "Marvellous Days and Memories" Saturday 15 March 2003 page 10
  8. ^ Manchester Evening News "Where is Bobby Now?" Saturday 3 January 2004 page 20
  9. ^ [1] Archived 1 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton. Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, Chapter four, Northern Soul. Section: "Soul Wars: Wigan Casino vs Blackpool Mecca", page 98
  11. ^ a b Stickings, Reg. Searching For Soul
  12. ^ Haslam, Dave. Adventures On The Wheels of Steel: The Rise of the Superstar DJs, Chapter six, "Leaving The Go-Go Girls At Home", page 170
  13. ^ Russ Winstanley and David Nowell. Soul Survivors: The Wigan Casino Story. Chapter one, page 14
  14. ^ Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton. Last Night A DJ Saved My Life. Chapter four, page 99, "Soul Wars: Wigan Casino versus Blackpool Mecca"
  15. ^ Russ Winstanley and David Nowell. Soul Survivors: The Wigan Casino Story. Chapter seven, page 101
  16. ^ Ritson, Mike & Russell, Stuart. The In Crowd: The Story of the Northern & Rare Soul Scene, Chapter twenty, page 273
  17. ^ Haslam, Dave. Adventures On The Wheels of Steel: The Rise of the Superstar DJs, Chapter six, "Leaving The Go-Go Girls At Home", page 180
  18. ^
  19. ^ Ritson, Mike & Russell, Stuart. The In Crowd: The Story of the Northern & Rare Soul Scene, Chapter 19, page 263
  20. ^ Ritson, Mike. "Northern Exposure" column in Echoes magazine. March 2009
  21. ^ "The Return Of Northern Soul" Article by Terry Christian in The Times, 27 August 2008
  22. ^ Stickings, Reg, Searching For Soul
  23. ^ David Nowell, Too Darn Soulful: The Story of Northern Soul. Chapter 12, page 319.
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton. Last Night A DJ Saved My Life. Chapter four, page 86, "A Genre Built From Failures"
  29. ^ Haslam, Dave, Manchester, England, chapter six, p147
  30. ^ Sleeve notes written by Ian Levine accompanying the CD "Reachin’ For The Best: The Northern Soul of the Blackpool Mecca" on Sanctuary records
  31. ^ Haslam, Dave, Manchester, England, chapter six, p172
  32. ^ Paolo Hewitt. The Soul Stylists. p. 111, quote from Ady Croadsell
  33. ^ Sleeve notes written by Neil Rushton accompanying the LP Out On The Floor Tonight on Inferno Records
  34. ^ Sleeve notes written by Ian Levine accompanying the CD "Reachin’ For The Best: The Northern Soul of the Blackpool Mecca"
  35. ^ Sleeve notes accompanying the LP Casino Classics Chapter One on Casino Classics Records
  36. ^ Russ Winstanley and David Nowell Soul Survivors: The Wigan Casino Story. Chapter seven, page 109
  37. ^ Sleeve notes written by Ian Levine accompanying the CD Reachin’ For The Best: The Northern Soul of the Blackpool Mecca
  38. ^
  39. ^ Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton. Last Night A DJ Saved My Life Chapter four, page 106, "Fighting for the soul of soul"
  40. ^ Rylatt, Keith and Phil Scott, Central 1179: The Story of Manchester's Twisted Wheel Club, chapter 8 “Bye Bye Blues”
  41. ^ a b Keith Rylatt and Phil Scott, Central 1179: The Story of Manchester's Twisted Wheel Club, chapter 10 “The Records”
  42. ^ Blackford, Andy, Disco Dancing Tonight, chapter 5 “In the beginning”
  43. ^ Ritson, Mike & Russell, Stuart. The In Crowd: The Story of the Northern & Rare Soul Scene, Chapter 15, page 215
  44. ^ Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton. Last Night A DJ Saved My Life. Chapter 4, page 102, "Reissues and Commercialisation"
  45. ^ Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton. Last Night A DJ Saved My Life. Chapter 4, page 86, "A Genre Built From Failures"
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^ Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton. Last Night A DJ Saved My Life. Chapter 4, page 109, "The world's rarest record"
  50. ^
  51. ^ Russ Winstanley and David Nowell. Soul Survivors: The Wigan Casino Story. Chapter five, page 65
  52. ^ Russ Winstanley and David Nowell. Soul Survivors: The Wigan Casino Story. Chapter 7, page 95
  53. ^ Russ Winstanley and David Nowell. Soul Survivors: The Wigan Casino Story. Chapter 2, page 37
  54. ^
  55. ^ Keith Rylatt and Phil Scott. Central 1179: The Story of Manchester's Twisted Wheel Club. BeeCool Publishing. 2001
  56. ^ Andy Wilson. Northern Soul: Music, Drugs and Subcultural Identity. Chapter 2, Page 78
  57. ^ [2] Archived 1 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  58. ^ Andy Wilson. Northern Soul: Music, Drugs and Subcultural Identity. Chapter 3, Page 82
  59. ^ Keith Rylatt and Phil Scott, Central 1179: The Story of Manchester's Twisted Wheel Club, BeeCool Publishing. 2001
  60. ^ Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton. Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, Chapter 4, "Northern Soul: The First Rave Culture", page 85
  61. ^
  62. ^ Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton. Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, Chapter 4, "From Northern Soul to Nu-NRG", page 113
  63. ^ MOD: A Very British Style (Google eBook) Richard Weight Random House, 28 Mar 2013 p.182
  64. ^ Too darn soulful: the story of Northern soul David Nowell Robson, 1999, p.299
  65. ^
  66. ^
  67. ^ Winstanley, Russ and David Nowell, Soul Survivors: The Wigan Casino Story, Part V, p. 207
  68. ^
  69. ^
  70. ^ [3] Archived 27 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  71. ^
  72. ^
  73. ^
  74. ^
  75. ^ [4] Archived 26 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  76. ^
  77. ^
  78. ^
  79. ^


External links

  • Soul Or Nothing, A paper given at Manchester University in 2006
  • Land of a Thousand Dances by Dave Godin, published in Blues & Soul, issue 50, January 1971
  • For Dancers Only: The story of Wigan Casino by Chris Hunt, published in Mojo, Spring 2002
  • The Northern Soul Top 500 Copy of the lists from Kev Roberts' book 'The Northern Soul Top 500'.
  • The Manchester Wheelers - book about the Twisted Wheel club
  • [5] - Northern Soul Video Portal
  • Letter by Bob Dee to Bolton Evening News, published Monday 10 March 2003 with references to his work at the Twisted Wheel
  • Response letter to Bolton Evening News, published Saturday 15 March 2003 regarding Bob Dee's work at the Twisted Wheel & re-submitted by the same author to the Manchester Evening News, Saturday 3 January 2004 page 20)
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