Northern Soul History


The Northern Soul scene was exciting, amphetamine-fuelled and resolutely underground. The term “NORTHERN SOUL” was first penned by Soul journalist Dave Godin, around 1970, in the music magazine Blues ‘n’ Soul.

Godin coined the term because he had noticed a distinct difference in DJ sets played in clubs like Twisted Wheel, Wigan Casino, Blackpool Mecca, The Golden Torch and other venues across the north. This was opposed to the more contemporary Funky Soul sounds of James Brown and Kool and the Gang in London and the south.

Wigan Casino, late-1970s – Sharon Wolstencroft

DJ’s like Richard Searling, Russ Winstanley, Ian Lavine, Chris Burton and many others were playing the deeper more retro Soul and R&B sound of Billy Butler “ The right track”  Sandi Sheldon “You’re gonna make me Love you”  Phil Terrel “Love has passed me by” Vickie Labat “Got to keep hanging on”  Dobie Grey  “Out on the floor”  usually on smaller independent record labels alongside more well-known tracks from Motown.

DJ Russ Winstanley with the single Footsee by the Chosen Few, February 1975

From its underground origins in clubs like The Twisted Wheel in 60’s Manchester,   “Northern Soul” proves to be as popular today with younger audiences as it was in the ’70s and there are now thousands of Tracks which have managed to find themselves onto numerous Northern soul compilations.

Twisted Wheel – Manchester

This Bank Holiday Sunday on the 12th of April we planned a Smokestack All-Dayer to pay tribute to this amazing genre of music, unfortunately we’ve had to postpone the event, but for now check out below the Top 5 Northern Soul Tracks of our resident DJ Chico Malo So we can all “Keep the Faith”

1, Dee Dee Sharp – Deep Dark Secret.

2, Little Anthony & Imperials – Better use your Head

3, Billy Butler – The Right Track

4, Big Maybelle – Quitting Time.

5, Edwin Starr –  Back Street