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Discussion Starter #1
At a loose end yesterday, I popped into an HMV. One of the records - yep, proper vinyl! - on display, was entitled ‘classic cuts, Northern Soul’. Although I’ve heard of the term Northern Soul, I thought a look at the list of artists would shed some light on what Northern Soul is. This is where I went a bit Shant. I thought the clue was in the name, but the album included tracks sung by Gladys Knight and tracks by Marvin Gaye, both of whom I very much doubt grew up in Kirby.

So what is Northern Soul? Is it music from a certain area (like the fizzy pop from Champagne), or does it describe a certain sound? If so, what defines a Northern Soul sound? (If it’s a sound then I can see why Gladys and Marvin are on the album)

I look forward to your insight, examples and then of course the inevitable bun fight over who is the definitive Northern Soul artist. :p
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Gladys and Martin are from Wigan?
 

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Apparently so, according to local legend. BBC Radio Manchester has a "Northern Soul" programme at 10PM every Friday, trailers for which often mention Wigan Casino in reverential tones.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Oh, ok - that’s interesting. Thank you (y)
 

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I think Wigan Casino was/is popular for playing Motown and Wigan is north of London. I look at Northern Soul as what we called Motown when I was a lad. That might be an over simplified explanation but it does for me.
 

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Hi Scud,

Quite right of you to pick up on this confusingly named genre.
I'm fairly sure (as you suggest with 2 good examples) that roughly zero percent of artists producing tunes filed under "Northern Soul" are actually from north Britain.
The genre actually refers to tunes popular among attendees at the Wigan Casino - as mentioned above- and other "soul all-nighter" events oop north in the 70s.
These tunes were mainly recorded in the late 60's (USA), and mostly up-tempo numbers (suited to accompany acrobatic dance routines on talcum-powdered floors) not that successful on release but later acquiring a sky high cool factor among aficionados due to their obscurity and rarity.

They made a film about it and everything.🤓
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Cheers Chris for shedding light on this. :) Now I am ok about being a bit confused :)

So looking ahead... can a new song be Northern Soul? I don’t know the terminology here (retro, parady, pastiche?) But could a song be Northern Soul by mimicing the sound of the songs popular in Wigan, even if it was never played to an applauding crowd In Wigan?
 

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Northern Soul was a massive cult thing at the time, and is still very popular in Lancashire certainly. I live in Wigan now (didn't back then, though). It was just a bit before my time, I remember the big lads going off on the train to Wigan (from Peterborough, it must have taken forever) when I was a young 'un.
 

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Cheers Chris for shedding light on this. :) Now I am ok about being a bit confused :)

So looking ahead... can a new song be Northern Soul? I don’t know the terminology here (retro, parady, pastiche?) But could a song be Northern Soul by mimicing the sound of the songs popular in Wigan, even if it was never played to an applauding crowd In Wigan?
That's probably a bit like asking if an Alfa can still really be an Alfa if it has a certain amount of GM or Fiat input..;)
 

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Interesting thread! When Dave first said Wigan, I thought he was taking the p***!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
This is interesting stuff, chaps. Not linked to Northern Soul - unless you tell me it is - But is there a kind of evolution/progress parallel here with Ska music’s emergence into popular-ish music from its roots in the 60s? My mum likes early ska music and I think she said it was place based music (i could be wrong; I never listen properly to anything :sleep: )

Chris.... is an Alfa an Alfa if it’s based on a Fiat? Even eminent philosophers would be torn over that one :unsure: :)
 
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