The Northern Soul movement which began in the late 1960s in fabled venues such as the Twisted Wheel, Wigan Casino and Blackpool Mecca is one which still holds a place in many hearts. As the music produced by labels such as Motown and Atlantic moved to a more hard, funky sound, many fans hankered after the more carefree, soulful sounds created in the middle part of the decade, and thus the movement was born featuring famed 'all-nighters' attended by fans from all over the country.
The soundtrack to the film Northern Soul, which is directed by Elaine Constantine features 27 gems of the genre. Given that Northern Soul is a retrospective term added to tracks, none of the artists ever set out to make the definitive track of the style, but be prepared for short, high energy tracks, the likes of which had the dancefloors jumping.
Highlights of the soundtrack include the fantastic 'Turnin' My Heartbeat Up' by the MVPs, which opens with a whisper, introducing the various instruments of the ensemble before launching into an infectious singalong chorus. Similarly, 'The Night' by Frankie Valli is less known than his Northern standard, 'Beggin', but features the same lush harmonies and stomping beat.
One of the hallmarks of the Northern Soul scene is the rarity of tracks, with many available only on 7” single originally, making some of the most beloved tracks truly sought after. Quite how much can be described as rare in the information age is debatable, with many of these tracks being available on YouTube or other streaming services, but as one who can remember the days combing my local record shops to find an obscure single with a remixed B-side, I can certainly relate to the collectors here. The rare cuts from Marvin Gaye and Edwin Starr featured on the collection certainly stand up alongside their more revered work, and add a definite star power to the soundtrack.
Whilst the film itself isn't released until mid-October, the trailer paints a great picture of the time period, and features one of the other highlights of the soundtrack, Shirley Ellis' 'Soul Time', which has a chorus so catchy that you will be singing it to yourself long after the track has finished. Coming across like Billy Elliott meets Saturday Night Fever (but in a good way, obviously), it has been soundtracked by a great selection of tracks.
Although this soundtrack doesn't feature all of the most accessible Northern Soul tracks, it would make a great jumping off point for someone new to the genre, and probably a much better point than one of the 'throw as much shit at the wall and see what sticks' multi-disk collections available. Die-hards will be most interested in the 2 disc version of the soundtrack or the limited edition 12x7” single boxed set.