Northern Soul (Part Four)

What can I say?

Well, first I should say a hearty “Thank you” to edge78a for all the help he’s been to me in understanding Northern Soul. I hope that over time others seeking an introduction to this genre will benefit from his information and song list (Northern Soul Parts Two and Three, respectively).

In one sense, I am where I was in the beginning: when artists I love are also embraced by Northern Soul aficionados, whether the artist be my main man, Jackie Wilson, or other greats, such as Chuck Jackson, Major Lance, and Gene Chandler, it is always what I like least or not at all in the artist’s repertoire than draws rave reviews from the NS crowd.

But with understanding comes tolerance. I used to find it maddening to go to a YouTube posting of a typical Jackie Wilson recording from the end of his career and find NS comment writers heaping praise on these tracks: recordings of tuneless songs with sophomoric lyrics, recordings that sounded like Amateur Hour at studio’s mixing board, recordings in which Jackie Wilson’s magnificent voice and often exquisite singing was inevitably obscured by noxious “background” singers and noisy instrumental “accompanists.”

I now understand that the primary issue in Northern Soul is rhythm and tempo, and I also understand that what is to me a dreadful sameness about the tracks produced at this stage of Jackie Wilson’s career is actually beautiful to the ears–and the feet–of the Northern Soulers. Although Jackie’s career ended much too soon, he left us hundreds of recordings, enough for many varied audiences to enjoy.

I also understand that the Northern Soul movement is a cultural phenomenon in the United Kingdom in more than one way. Not only is it a matter of entertainment and regional identification, which produces logos and other paraphernalia, but it is also a sort of hobby in that the group enjoys collecting rare recordings and following their market value.

Where once I stopped at all Jackie Wilson YouTube postings and pointed out the deficiencies of these Carl Davis tracks, I now just pass them by with a smile and leave them to my friends in the UK.

And I do now think of the Northern Soul gang as friends.

3 thoughts on “Northern Soul (Part Four)

  1. edge78a

    Hi there this is Edge, i love your summing up at the end of part four. I’m glad i made the effort just to read that !
    I must add that i love Jackie’s work throughout his career and used to DJ some of his early stuff that was uptempo which was always well received.
    I’m certainly no expert and know 100’s of folks in England who’ve forgot more than i’ll ever know !
    I’ll be happy to answer any questions if i can as i have plenty of time on my hands whilst i undergo chemo therapy.
    Lastly i’m going to send you a list of the type of Motown and associated labels that i used to spin often.
    Take care

    1. jackiewilsonlover Post author

      Hello, Edge!

      It is great to hear from you, and I am so glad you found the blog. And I am glad I found you to help me understand Northern Soul.

      These Northern Soul related posts certainly get a goodly share of this blog’s “views,” and your list of records has been “viewed” regularly since it went up. Some of the readers may be partying to that list as I write this.

      Sad as I am that you must undergo chemo, I am grateful that it is available to you and will be keeping you in my prayers as you progress through it.

      Much as I curse technology, I have to say I appreciate getting to make friends with people I’ve never met. Always remember that you are special to an old lady in the American Midwest.



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