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.