Soulful Kinda Music

Magazine & Web Site

Just click on any of the links below to go to the other articles, or back to the home page


Can Soul Singles be of historical value

Great Allnighter

Northern Soul & Milk

Llandudno & Prestatyn Weekenders

The Dudley Chronicle

The Green At Darlaston

Cover Ups


Northern Soul Is Dead !

I’ve thought about this for a long time, but more recently the factors involved have altered and swayed the balance. I really do think that ‘Northern Soul’ is dying, or already  dead.   The term ‘Northern Soul’ is commonly accepted to have been originated by Dave Godin when he ran the Soul City Record shop. It was used to describe the type of record that Northerners were buying, as opposed to the type of record that Southerners were buying. No more, no less. Dave had noticed that there was a distinct difference in that the Northerners were buying uptempo, on the fours, Sixties things, whilst the Southerners were buying current releases which tended to be veering towards the just started Funk sound.  

Dave Godin then used the term in an article he wrote for Blues & Soul in 1971, called ‘The Soul Of The North’ about his first visit to The Twisted Wheel in Manchester. That was it, ‘Northern Soul’ was born. And for the next ten years the term described the music and the scene perfectly. Towards the end of the decade though the term became used with derision by Soul music fans who hated the pop music stompers that were being played under the banner of ‘Northern Soul’…….’Theme From Joe 90’, ‘Hawaii 5-0’, ‘Under My Thumb’, The Sharronettes, the list seems endless these days, but they all filled the floor back in the Seventies and bore as little relationship to Soul as England winning something at football ! It led to two things. An awful lot of ‘Northern Soul’ fans left the scene, some never to return, and more ‘Modern’ records began to feature on the playlists of the DJs who cared.  

So where are we now ? There is a thriving scene, with music from the Sixties through to the Nineties being played at venues across the country. All well and good you would think.  

Well I’m sorry, I don’t think all is well and good. In fact, I can see the death of the Northern Soul scene if things continue as they are.   I’ve been to several nights recently where the music has left rather a lot to be desired. I want to hear danceable Soul music when I go out, preferably from the Sixties.  

I don’t want to hear Modern Soul that is so slow that the dancefloor looks like a field of corn swaying in the wind ! They might be brilliant Soul records that I would really enjoy listening to at home, but they are not records which should be played in a venue with a dancefloor   I don’t want to hear dance tracks that are more at home in a rave. It’s no good people telling me that the vocal is very Soulful when it lasts 30 seconds out of a five minute track. I’m told these are apparently Soulful Garage tracks. That’s as may be, but I don’t want to listen to this type of record. The only sound I want to hear coming from a garage is one of mechanics fixing cars !  

Look how many venues now advertise ‘across the board’ music policies. How many venues have actually asked what people want. It’s all very well saying, if you don’t like it, don’t go. I would say if you are going to be playing Soulful Garage, don’t advertise it as Northern Soul !   The majority of venues do try to keep the balance right though, playing a few Modern things, that are danceable Soul music in amongst a Sixties set, but I’ve noticed that the trend towards playing shite is increasing.  

Crossover is another term that has filtered in on a more regular basis. Sometimes this turns up good records, other times it turns up crap. They are just failed disco records, but I feel the introduction of Crossover signalled the beginning of the rot, and it was a major factor in my own decision to stop playing any Seventies records when I DJ. I’m not the only one who has taken that decision either.  

You also have to look at the recent decline in numbers at allnighters. Of all the venues that I attend on a regular basis the only ones that have not suffered are the 100 Club in London, and The Ritz in Manchester. Both of which tend to have a 90% Sixties playlist. All the others have suffered lower attendance’s along with their progressive playlists.  

There is some hope. There is now a feeling amongst Sixties Soul collectors and DJs that enough is enough, and we must get back to the basic Sixties format. I’m not advocating a return to playing Oldies though, there are still plenty Sixties Newies out there waiting to be played, at Soul nights and Allnighters. I’ll give The Dome in Tufnell park as an example here. A playlist that is 95% Sixties, Newies and rarities mixed in with the Oldies, and the attendance's are exceeding that of most allnighters. It’s time that promoters realised that it’s no good saying they want to take the scene forward, and then play music which is almost unrecognisable as Soul music in the sense of ‘Northern Soul’. It’s not what is wanted.  

So, keep the nightclub and rave sounds off our scene. If people want that fine, let them go to clubs that play that sort of stuff, but keep them away from ‘Northern Soul’. These records have nothing to do with ‘Northern Soul’, and in the majority of cases nothing to do with ‘Rare Soul’ either. So remember, if you don’t like the music being played as ‘Northern Soul’, complain to the DJ and the promoter, and ask for some ‘Northern Soul’  

Keep The Faith !  

Dave Rimmer.