The Northern Soul Top 500 Songs
This May celebrating the 10th year anniversary of FunkMySoul, we offer you : The Northern Soul Top 500 songs from the book written by Kev Roberts, published by Goldmine/Soul Supply Ltd in 2000.
“Born in the ultra-cool Mod clubs of the late-sixties with names like The Blue Orchid, King Mojo and The Twisted Wheel, the sound was Motown, Stax, Atlantic and their imitators – American Soul music with an express train beat that found a spiritual home in England’s North and a name… ‘Northern Soul’.
Driven by incredible sounds from Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York & the West Coast, it grew and developed at The Torch, Blackpool Mecca, The Catacombs until it exploded at Wigan’s Casino club. Now in its second wave, Northern Soul’s infectious beat is once again spreading to pack dancehalls across the country.
From connoisseur Soul classics to the pop-stomp of the late 70s this book is the definitive chart of the 500 top sounds that put Northern Soul on the map”
“What actually constitutes a Northern 45 is open to conjecture. My gut reaction is to focus on what has been played at ‘Northern Soul’ all nighters rather than what is technically ‘Soul’ music”. “In the final analysis this chart is derived from overall long term popularity.”
This book is a masterpiece collating the top 500 most collectable Northern Soul records that have so far been uncovered. Histories, photos and lables are all here for you to drool over. The number one single is Frank Wilson’s ‘Do I Love You‘, only discovered in the late 70’s – an instant smash at Wigan. There are only two copies of the original in the world and the last one sold fetched £15,000 – thankfully available now on CD compilations.
Some of the prices will scare you but the book will fascinate you. During the 80’s the movement took a serious turn for the worse, however with the advent of the 90’s and CD’s, things could not be more healthier. All-nighters abound once more and the original Wheel/Torch/Mecca/Casino goers are returning along with newcomers eager to see what the attraction is. Quite simply, there is no other music scene that offers you everything – from friendships still strong after 20-40 years to dancing that makes all other forms look clumsy, also the willingness to embrace artists whose initial attempts at success were confined to warehouse floors and had to wait for DJ’s and collectors coming over from the UK in order to find worthy fame.
Northern soul is a music and dance movement that emerged in Northern England in the late 1960s from the British mod scene, based on a particular style of black American soul music, especially in the mid-1960s, with a heavy beat and fast tempo.
The northern soul movement 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 AMG Records (Cincinnati), 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 in 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.
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 licence 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 No. 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 No. 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 No. 1, July 1971) – which was popularised by Midlands DJ Carl Dene – the Fascinations‘ 1966 single “Girls Are Out to Get You” (UK No. 32, 1971), the Elgins‘ “Heaven Must Have Sent You” (UK No. 3 July 1971), the Newbeats‘ 1965 American hit “Run Baby Run” (UK No. 10, Oct 1971), Bobby Hebb‘s “Love Love Love” which was originally the B-side of “A Satisfied Mind” (UK No. 32 August 1972), Robert Knight‘s “Love On a Mountain Top” of 1968 (UK No. 10, November 1973) and R. Dean Taylor’s “There’s a Ghost in My House” from 1967 (UK No. 3, May 1974).
The Northern soul scene also spawned many lesser chart hits, including Al Wilson‘s 1968 cut “The Snake” (UK No. 41 in 1975), Dobie Gray‘s “Out On the Floor” (UK No. 42, September 1975) and Little Anthony & the Imperials‘ “Better Use Your Head” (UK No. 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 No. 31, October 1975), L. J Johnson‘s “Your Magic Put a Spell on Me” (UK No. 27, February 1976) and Tommy Hunt’s “Loving On the Losing Side” (UK No. 28, August 1976). “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 No. 26 in November 1974. To promote the single on BBC’s Top of the Pops, the performer was accompanied by two Wigan Casino dancers.
In at least one case, a previously obscure recording was specially remixed to appeal to Northern soul fans: the 1968 recording “Footsee” by Canadian group the Chosen Few was sped up, overdubbed and remixed to emerge as the 1975 UK No. 9 hit “Footsee”, now credited to Wigan’s Chosen Few. In addition, the Northern soul favourite “Skiing In The Snow“, originally by the Invitations, was covered by local band Wigan’s Ovation, and reached No. 12 in the UK singles chart. These versions were not well received by the Northern soul community as their success brought wider awareness to the subculture.
The first domestic disco hit, “Kung Fu Fighting” (UK No. 1, 1974), which was created by singer Carl Douglas and producer Biddu in Britain, was influenced by the Northern Soul scene.
In 2000, Wigan Casino DJ Kev Roberts compiled The Northern Soul Top 500, which was based on a survey of Northern soul fans.
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.
The 500 songs list