Thursday, 10 March 2011


Northern / Modern Soul _ Buddy Miles - I'm Just A Kiss Away

Northern Soul International Music and Dance Movement

Although many people relate the sights and sounds of soul music as something native to the United States of America, it's important to point out that there were other countries involved with the soul music movement in the 1960's and ‘70's. One particularly large arm of this movement, called northern soul, took place in Europe as part of Britain's "mod scene." A combination of black American soul music and the heavy rhythm and quick tempo of the Tamla Motown sound, which was popular in the mid-1960s, this type of soul music inspired dance steps and fashions that are still recognizable today..

Like so much of the musical terminology and language that was developing during this era, the name ‘northern soul' is said to have been coined in a record shop. Dave Godin, a journalist who had a weekly column in the Blues and Soul magazine, is credited with the creating the term in the late 1960's, as a way to help his clerks know which type of music to play for customers coming from the north of England. These customers weren't interested in the modern funkier sounds playing on American radio. Instead, they were looking for the smoother, Motown-influenced soul that had been popular on the charts a handful of years prior..

Interestingly, the sounds that are now associated with northern soul in retrospect were actually the sounds of failure for most budding American artists. Those who were late in trying to jump on the Motown bandwagon found that American audiences were tired of the sultry, soulful music that had been popular just years before. As American listeners moved onto the more upbeat music that would eventually transform into the funk and pop of today, the Northern England bunch were holding on to the sweet sounds of original Motown. Artists that failed in the U.S. were quietly hailed as new talent in the U.K..

For the longest time, northern soul was kept alive because there were plenty of these "one hit wonders" for DJs and clubs to discover over and over again. Even though the music was dated, it was new on the scene, and people couldn't get enough of it. However, slowly the reserves of soul music were starting to run dry, as young artist became interested in other genres. The beginning of the 1980s almost saw the end of this movement, but thanks to the revival of the 1970s mod style, the advent of the scooterboy subculture and the popularity of the Acid jazz movement, more fans were born.


Eddie Billups Shake off that dream

Delegates Of Soul - I'll Come Running Back - Mega Northern Soul / Funk /...

The history of Soul Music and R&B

Soul Music has its beginnings in Gospel and R&B of the 1940s and 1950s. They both had major influences on key soul singers including Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, just to name a couple.

The birthplace of Soul Music, to be quite honest is unknown. What is known? The United States inner cities, including Chicago, Detroit, Florence, Memphis, and New York, all created and produced their own soul music styles based on their demographics at the same time, thus making a “beautiful mixture“ of sound variety across the states for us all to enjoy.

In the 1970s, Hip Hop was born, which had a huge influence on the Soul Music that followed. New Jack Swing (aka Swing Beat), which combined Soul, Hip Hop, Gospel and Jazz, was absolutely rocking.

Disco and Funk Music also came to fruition in the 1970s, and started to decline in the early 1980s. Undoubtedly, Soul Music was now being influenced by Electro Music and Funk - it became known as Contemporary R&B which was, and still is, great!.

House and Techno rose to mainstream popularity in the late 1980s and remained popular in the 1990s and 2000s. Also starting in the 1980s, Soul Music from the United Kingdom became very popular - cheers mate!.

The development of Neo-Soul started around 1994. This was due to mainstream record label marketing support for soul genres diminishing in the 2000s, as the industry re-focused on Hip Hop - somewhat of a master stroke by the powers that be.

The many genres of Soul Music and R&B have reached a point, well before now of course, where they are now sub-divided into subgenres. To be side tracked, even though I have not mentioned it above, true Soul Music connoisseurs know that Rock and Roll was, literally, born from Soul Music and Rhythm and Blues….another day, another article.