Northern Soul - The Hottest Thing In Vinyl - In any month, more than 40% of the top dollar grossing records sold are ebay are Northern Soul genre and almost exclusively 45's. Here are a couple of completed eBay sales in the summer of 2012.
So just exactly what is Northern Soul?
First, I can tell you what it isn't. It is not soul music produced in the Northern part of the United States. Northern Soul is soul music with a good dance beat, performed by obscure or little known artists, on obscure or lesser known labels. This isn't Motown, Tamla or Stax produced stuff though occasionally you might find a one hit artist on one of those labels with a northern soul tempo song. The name classification for this type of music came from Dave Grodin, a record store owner in London and founder of the label Soul City.
"I had started to notice that northern football fans who were in London too follow their team were coming into the store to buy records, but they weren’t interested in the latest developments in the black American chart. I devised the name as a shorthand sales term. It was just to say ‘if you’ve got customers from the north, don’t waste time playing them records currently in the US black chart, just play them what they like - ‘Northern Soul’."
Godin also coined the term "deep soul" for American soul artists who had never made it big in their native country.
The incredible prices that Northern Soul records bring is mostly due to the Northern English music scene where this dance music was huge in the late 60's through the early 70's and continues to be collected by many people. The prices are driven by the simple fact that often only a few thousand records were issued and usually flopped in the US market where competition from the big labels was overpowering. So they are usually on the rare side. If you happen to come across one that has not been seen or heard before it can the several thousand dollar range on eBay. This happens several times each month.
Oft times, artists were regional, with just a few hundred pressings issued locally. It is these limited edition regional issues that seem to be the big dollar generators in the market today.
Another interesting fact is that Northern Soul just didn't encompass black american artists. There are specific tracks by artists like Kiki Dee, R. Dean Taylor or even Booby Goldsboro that are considered Northern Soul. It's all about the sound.
So where do you find northern soul 45's out in the wild? I've had modest success at local flea markets and thrift stores in urban areas. It seems to make sense. This is soul music or soul sounding music with a great beat, often produced in limited editions by artists who never made another record. Logic says the records that were produced and distributed went first to friends and relatives, then to local radio stations, so the chances are best if you search in areas where these records might still be laying around.
If you want to explore Northern Soul in depth there are a couple of web sites chock full of information.
The Northern Soul Night Shift Web Site - it's a little hard to read with the white text on a balck background, but it's almost a one stop only primer on everything you need to know about Northern Soul music.
Northern Soul Net - this is a great site with soundtracks embedded for you to listen to various artists.
I am going to leave you with a You Tube link to my favorite Northern Soul of all time.
Edwin Starr's S.O.S - I love this video for Edwin's comments in the beginning about what is real music. Now listen to this song and tell me that doesn't want to make you get up and dance.
This is also great sounding music with it's timeless sound, and I expect one day Northern Soul will take a rightful place with American Jazz as a a definitive American music form.
When I first started researching Northern Soul music, I read where somebody called it "The Feel Good" music. That's the best description I ever heard.