With contemporary black music evolving into what would eventually become known as funk , the die-hard soul lovers of Northern England still preferred the mids 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. The club began in the early s as a beatnik coffee bar called The Left Wing, but in early , the run-down premises were leased by two Manchester businessmen Ivor and Phil Abadi and turned into a music venue.
Starting in September , the Abadi brothers promoted all-night parties at the venue on Saturday nights, with a mixture of live and recorded music. However, other towns and cities across Britain had similar enthusiasts around this time who would tune into pirate radio broadcasts, and record shops would help bring the U. 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.
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 taking with him his vast collection of UK and imported vinyl.
Commemorative sew-on patch similar to those worn by Twisted Wheel members. By 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 , resident 'All Niter' DJ Bob Dee compiled and supervised  the playlist, utilising the newly developed slip-cueing technique to spin the vinyl. Rarer, more up-tempo imported records were added to the playlist in by the new younger DJ's like Brian "45"Phillips up until the club's eventual closure in The Twisted Wheel gained a reputation as a drug haven, and under pressure from the police and other authorities, the club closed in January However, by the late s, 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.
Northern soul reached the peak of its popularity in the mid to late s. 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 Chris Burton, the owner, stated that by , the club had a membership of 12,, and had hosted 62, separate customer visits.
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 By , the club boasted a membership of , people, and in , was voted the world's number one discotheque by Billboard Magazine. By the late s, the club had its own spin-off record label, Casino Classics.
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.
The regular Saturday night events began at 8. 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.
There was a notable scene in the east of England, Shades Northampton was one of the leading venues in this part of the country during the early s until it closed it doors in Later came the all-nighters at the St. Ivo Centre in St. However, the s 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 s 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 s — often dismissed as a low period for Northern soul by those who had left the scene in the s — featured almost new venues in places as diverse as Bradford , London, Peterborough, Leighton Buzzard , Whitchurch , Coventry and Leicester.
Many of those who ceased their involvement in the late s have now returned to the scene and regularly participate in such events. He plays three Northern soul hits, often at the request of his listeners. Do I Love You? 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[ edit ] See also: 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 These types of records, which suited the athletic dancing that was prevalent, became known on the scene as stompers. These came to be known as the "3 before 8" and were: 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 on promotional copies - but quickly withdrawn due to lack of interest from American radio stations.
Rarity of Northern soul records[ edit ] See also: Rare groove 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: It had previously been thought that all the original versions had been destroyed when rival label EMI won the rights to release the single.
Dave Godin is generally credited with being the first UK entrepreneur to start this trend, setting up the Soul City label in , and striking a deal with EMI to licence Gene Chandler 's recording "Nothing Can Stop Me", which had been popular for several years at the Twisted Wheel.
The trend continued into the s, as many songs from the s that were revived on the Northern soul scene were reissued by their original labels and became UK top 40 hits. A variety of recordings were made later in the s that were specifically aimed at the Northern soul scene, which also went on to become UK top 40 hits. 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.
Fashion and imagery[ edit ] 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 s mod subculture. In the late s, 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: 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.
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 s Black Power movement of the United States.
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. Of the regular attendees he said, "All they wanted was fast-tempo black dance music Influence on DJ culture[ edit ] 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 s.
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. 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. Influence on musicians[ edit ] Northern soul has influenced several notable musicians.
Terry Christian — in his article about Northern soul for The Times — wrote: Smith said in an interview published in the NME on October 1, Because I was brought up with people that were into Northern Soul five years before anybody down here [London] had even heard about it.
But they've all grown out of it, which is what the song is about, but it wasn't putting them down at all. If anything, it was glorifying them, but not in the format of, where are those soul boys that used to be here? The song reached number 6 in the UK Singles Chart and also had success in many other countries. The music video for Duffy 's song " Mercy " features Duffy singing on a platform, accompanied by Northern soul dancers performing elaborate moves.
The album sleeve features Northern soul-style sew-on patches. Literature[ edit ] The Northern soul subculture has spawned a number of memoirs, novels and short stories.
Maxwell Murray's Crackin Up: Theatre[ edit ] Northern Soul is the title of a theatre piece by the British visual and performance artist, Victoria Melody.