What Is Soul? Part 1

What Is Soul? Part 1

What Makes Soul Become Northern Soul


We've recently started getting a few emails from people with memories, recollections, events, photo's and other memorabilia etc; which is great because we really do need your support through sending us all these types of things, to make this the best 'all in one' resource and historical library on Northern Soul. So come on, join in and get sending. Full credits will appear whenever requested and if you want to remain anonymous (because you're now the Deputy Priminister - God help us), that's ok too.

I'll include your stories, excerpts or photo's etc as we go along.

Let's move right along with a few articulate definitions:

What Is a Genre?

Full Genre Definition
A music genre is a conventional category that identifies pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions.
Music can be divided into different genres in several ways. The artistic nature of music means that these classifications are often arbitrary and controversial, and some genres may overlap.
New genres can arise by the development of new forms and styles of music and also simply by creating a new categorization. Although it is conceivable to create a musical style with no relation to existing genres, new styles usually appear under the influence of preexisting genres.
A fusion genre is a music genre that combines two or more genres. For example, rock and roll originally developed as a fusion of blues, gospel music and country music. The main characteristics of fusion genres are variations in tempo, rhythm, and style.
What constitutes a genuine fusion between genres and what is merely the influence of one genre on another is debatable, as is the level of originality needed to create a completely new genre.
Full List Of Music Styles

Under 'Ng', you'll find Northern Soul; Northern Soul – late 1960s variety of soul music from northern England

Wikipedia's Northern Soul 'Genre'

Just in case you weren't sure what a genre was, you do now (smilie)

Definition of Jazz Music

Wikipedia's Full Definition of Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in black communities in the Southern United States.
It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. Its African pedigree is evident in its use of blue notes, improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopation and the swung note. From its early development until the present, day jazz has also incorporated music from American popular music.
As the music has developed and spread around the world it has drawn on many different national, regional and local musical cultures giving rise, since its early 20th century American beginnings, to many distinctive styles:
    1 - New Orleans Jazz dating from the early 1910s,
    2 - Big Band Swing,
    3 - Kansas City Jazz and Gypsy Jazz from the 1930s and 1940s,
    4 - Be-Bop from the mid-1940s and on down through West Coast jazz,
    5 - Cool Jazz,
    6 - Avant-Garde Jazz,
    7 - Afro-Cuban Jazz,
    8 - Modal Jazz,
    9 - Free Jazz,
    10 - Latin Jazz in various forms,
    11 - Soul Jazz,
    12 - Jazz Fusion and Jazz Rock,
    13 - Smooth Jazz,
    14 - Jazz-Funk,
    15 - Punk Jazz,
    16 - Acid Jazz,
    17 - Ethno Jazz,
    18 - Jazz Rap,
    19 - Cyber Jazz,
    20 - Indo Jazz,
    21 - M-Base,
    22 - Nu Jazz,
    23 - Urban Jazz
and other ways of playing the music.

Next time someone says they're into Jazz, ask them what sort!!!

Because it, Jazz, spans music from Ragtime to the present day – over 100 years now – jazz can be very difficult to define.
While jazz may be difficult to define, improvisation is clearly one of its key elements. Early blues was commonly structured around a repetitive call-and-response pattern, a common element in the African American oral tradition. A form of folk music which rose in part from work songs and field hollers of rural Blacks, early blues was also highly improvisational. These features are fundamental to the nature of jazz.

Definition of Blues Music

Wiki's Full Blues Definition
Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre that originated in African-American communities of primarily the "Deep South" of the United States around the end of the 19th century from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads.
The origins of the blues date back to probably around 1890. They are very poorly documented, due in part to racial discrimination within American society, and to the low literacy rate of the rural African American community at the time.
The social and economic reasons for the appearance of the blues are not fully known. The first appearance of the blues is often dated between 1870 and 1900, a period that coincides with Emancipation and, later, the development of juke joints as places where Blacks went to listen to music, dance, or gamble after a hard day's work.
There are few characteristics common to all blues music, because the genre took its shape from the idiosyncrasies of individual performances.
Although blues has evolved from the unaccompanied vocal music and oral traditions of slaves imported from West Africa, no specific African musical form can be identified as the single direct ancestor of the blues. However many blues elements, such as the call-and-response format and the use of blue notes, can be traced back to the music of Africa.
Blues also adopted elements from the Negro spirituals, becoming the style which also was closely related to ragtime, which developed at about the same time, though the blues better preserved "the original melodic patterns of African music
The origins of the blues are closely related to the religious music of the Afro-American community, the spirituals. The origins of spirituals go back much further than the blues, usually dating back to the middle of the 18th century, when the slaves were Christianized and began to sing and play Christian hymns
Before the blues gained its formal definition in terms of chord progressions, it was defined as the secular counterpart of the spirituals. It was the low-down music played by the rural Blacks. Depending on the religious community a musician belonged to, it was more or less considered as a sin to play this low-down music: blues was the devil's music.
Blues musical styles, forms (12-bar blues), melodies, and the blues scale have influenced many other genres of music, such as rock and roll, jazz, and popular music.
RnB music can be traced back to spirituals and blues. Musically, spirituals were a descendant of New England choral traditions, and in particular of Isaac Watts's hymns, mixed with African rhythms and call-and-response forms. Spirituals or religious chants in the African-American community are much better documented than the "low-down" blues. Spiritual singing developed because African-American communities could gather for mass or worship gatherings

Definition of RnB Music

Wiki's RnB Full Definition
Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated to R&B and RnB, is a genre of popular African-American music that originated in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a heavy, insistent beat" was becoming more popular.
The term has subsequently had a number of shifts in meaning. In the early 1950s, the term rhythm and blues was frequently applied to blues records. Starting in the mid-1950s, after this style of music contributed to the development of rock and roll, the term "R&B" became used to refer to music styles that developed from and incorporated electric blues, as well as gospel and soul music. By the 1970s, rhythm and blues was used as a blanket term for soul and funk. In the 1980s, a newer style of R&B developed, becoming known as "Contemporary RnB".
Jerry Wexler of Billboard magazine coined the term "rhythm and blues" in 1948 as a musical marketing term in the United States. It replaced the term "race music", which originally came from within the black community, but was deemed offensive in the postwar world.[5][6] The term "rhythm and blues" was used by Billboard in its chart listings from June 1949 until August 1969, when its "Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles" chart was renamed as "Best Selling Soul Singles".
The migration of African Americans to the urban industrial centers of Chicago, Detroit, New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere in the 1920s and 1930s created a new market for jazz, blues, and related genres of music, often performed by full-time musicians, either working alone or in small groups.
In 1948, RCA Victor was marketing black music under the name "Blues and Rhythm". In that year, Louis Jordan dominated the top five listings of the R&B charts with three songs, and two of the top five songs were based on the boogie-woogie rhythms of the 1940's, but were described the music as "grittier than his boogie-era jazz-tinged blues". Jordan's cool music, along with that of Big Joe Turner, Roy Brown, Billy Wright, and Wynonie Harris, is now also referred to as jump blues. In 1949, the term "Rhythm and Blues" replaced the Billboard category Harlem Hit Parade. Many of these hit records were issued on new independent record labels, such as Savoy (founded 1942), King (founded 1943), Imperial (founded 1945), Specialty (founded 1946), Chess (founded 1947), and Atlantic (founded 1948).

The late 40's and early 50's were, by all accounts, a crazy time for RnB. With Afro-Cuban influences becoming strong (like Mamba) and the early ledgends paving the way for everything and everyone else after them, RnB seemed as diverse as Jazz and Blues which had gone before it.

With the likes of Fats Domino and Little Richard domineering, who began recording in the Jump Blues style in '51, and then upon making a demo in '54 with his new, uptempo, funky rhythm and blues that would catapult him to fame in 1955 and help define the sound of rock 'n' roll. A rapid succession of rhythm and blues hits followed with "Tutti Frutti" and "Long Tall Sally", which would influence performers such as James Brown, Elvis Presley, and Otis Redding.

It should be noted here I think, that New Orleans musicians were especially receptive to Cuban influences precisely at the time when R&B was first forming, which New Orleans producer-bandleader Dave Bartholomew first employed this style fusion (as a saxophone-section riff) on his own 1949 disc "Country Boy" and subsequently helped make it the most over-used rhythmic pattern in 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll.

On numerous recordings he produced etc by Fats Domino, Little Richard and others, Bartholomew assigned this repeating three-note pattern not just to the string bass, but also to electric guitars and even baritone sax, making for a very heavy bottom after first hearing this – as a bass pattern - on a Cuban disc.

Doo-Wop groups such as the Orioles were hitting number 4 in the charts with 'Crying In The Chapel' (one Elvis later covered, like Hound Dog), while Ray Charles came to national prominence in 1955 with "I Got a Woman", mixing the blues with the spirituals

The Chords' "Sh-Boom" became the first hit to cross over from the R&B chart to hit the top 10 in 1954. Bo Diddlely and Chuck Berry who both had unique sounds, made their music known through Chess Records and of course a lot of promotional help from Alan Friedman.

In 1956, an R&B "Top Stars of '56" tour took place, with headliners Al Hibbler, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, and Carl Perkins, whose "Blue Suede Shoes" was very popular with R&B music buyers. Some of the performers completing the bill were Chuck Berry, Cathy Carr, Shirley & Lee, Della Reese, the Cleftones, and the Spaniels with Illinois Jacquet's Big Rockin' Rhythm Band. Cities visited by the tour included Columbia, SC, Annapolis, MD, Pittsburgh, PA, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, NY, into Canada, and through the mid Western US ending in Texas. In Columbia the concert ended with a near riot as Perkins began his first song as the closing act. Perkins is quoted as saying, "It was dangerous. Lot of kids got hurt. There was a lot of rioting going on, just crazy, man! The music drove 'em insane." In Annapolis 70,000 to 50,000 people tried to attend a sold out performance with 8,000 seats. Roads were clogged for seven hours. Film makers took advantage of the popularity of "rhythm and blues" musicians as "rock n roll" musicians beginning in 1956. Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Big Joe Turner, The Treniers, The Platters, The Flamingos, all made it onto the big screen.

Elvis Presley had two 'crossover' singles in the RnB charts. Nat King Cole also was in the charts and Motown made its debut in 1959.

Bill Black, the white bandleader of the Bill Black Combo (who had helped start Elvis Presley's career) had ninety percent of his record sales from black people, who took his "Smokey, Part 2" in 1959 to the #1 position on black music charts. Bill was once told that "a lot of those stations still think you're a black group because the sound feels funky and black." Hi Records realised not to feature any pictures of the Combo on early records.
1960s and later; Sam Cooke's number 5 hit "Chain Gang" is indicative of R&B in 1960, as is Chubby Checker's number 5 hit "The Twist". By the early 1960's, the music industry category previously known as rhythm and blues was being called soul music, and similar music by white artists was labeled blue eyed soul. Motown Records had its first million-selling single in 1960 with The Miracles' "Shop Around", and in 1961, Stax Records had its first hit with Carla Thomas' "Gee Whiz! (Look at His Eyes)". Stax's next major hit, the Mar-Keys' instrumental "Last Night" (also released in 1961) introduced the rawer Memphis soul sound for which Stax became known. In Jamaica, R&B influenced the development of ska. By the 1970s, the term rhythm and blues was being used as a blanket term for soul, funk, and disco. Around the same time, earlier R&B was an influence on British pub rock and later, the mod revival. Now the term R&B is almost always used instead of the full rhythm and blues, and mainstream use of the term usually refers to contemporary R&B, which is a newer version of soul and funk-influenced pop music that originated, as disco faded from popularity.

Definition of Soul Music

A decent intro definition Wiki's Full Definition
Soul music is a combination of R&B and gospel and began in the late 1950's in the United States. Soul diffirentiates from R&B due to Soul music's use of gospel-music devices, its greater emphasis on vocalists and its merging of religious and secular themes.
Soul music can find its roots in 4 different sources: racial, geographical, historical and economical. The 1950s recordings of Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and James Brown are commonly considered the beginnings of soul music. There are many different types of Soul music, including, but not limited to: Southern Soul, Neo-Soul and Psychedelic Soul (which paved the way for Funk music in the 1960's. Soul music was born in Memphis and more widely in the southern US where most of the performing artists were from.
More than any other genre of popular American music, Soul is the result of the combination and merging of previous styles and substyles in the 1950's and 60's. Broadly speaking, soul comes from a gospel (the sacred) and blues (the profane). Blues was mainly a musical style that praised the fleshly desire whereas gospel was more oriented toward spiritual inspiration.
Once it gained popularity, Soul gradually came into white musical groups and was then called "Blue-Eyed Soul." Soul music ruled the black musical charts throughout the 1960's and inspired many other music styles such as current pop music and funk. In fact it never went away, it simply evolved.

Wiki's definition slightly disagrees:

Soul music has its roots in gospel music and rhythm and blues. The term 'soul' in black American parlance has connotations of black pride and culture. Gospel groups in the 1940's and 1950's occasionally used the term as part of their name. The jazz that self-consciously derived from gospel came to be called soul jazz. As singers and arrangers began using techniques from gospel and soul jazz in black popular music during the 1960's, soul music gradually functioned as an umbrella term for the black popular music at the time. The term "soul music" itself, to describe gospel-style music with secular lyrics, is first attested in 1961.
Ray Charles is often cited as inventing the soul genre with his string of hits starting with 1954's "I Got a Woman". Charles was open in acknowledging the influence of Pilgrim Travelers vocalist Jesse Whitaker on his singing style. Another view has it that a decade would transpire until Solomon Burke's early recordings for Atlantic Records codified the soul style; his early 1960's songs "Cry to Me", "Just Out of Reach" and "Down in the Valley" are considered classics of the genre. Little Richard (who was the inspiration for Otis Redding), Fats Domino and James Brown originally called themselves rock and roll performers. However, as rock music moved away from its R&B roots in the 1960's, Brown claimed that he had always really been an R&B singer. Little Richard proclaimed himself the "king of rockin' and rollin', rhythm and blues soulin'", because his music embodied elements of all three, and because he inspired artists in all three genres. Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke are also often acknowledged as soul forefathers.
Aretha Franklin's 1967 recordings, such as "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)", "Respect" (originally sung by Otis Redding), and "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" are considered the apogee of the soul genre, and were among its most commercially successful productions. In the late 1960s, Stax artists such as Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd, Wilson Pickett, and Johnnie Taylor made significant contributions to soul music. Howard Tate's recordings in the late 1960s for Verve Records, and later for Atlantic (produced by Jerry Ragovoy) are another notable body of work in the soul genre. By 1968, the soul music movement had begun to splinter, as artists such as James Brown and Sly & the Family Stone began to incorporate new styles into their music.

Notable Record Labels and Producers of Soul

Motown Records

Berry Gordy's successful Tamla/Motown group of labels was notable for being black-owned, unlike most of the earlier independent R&B labels. Notable artists under this label were The Supremes, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, Martha and the Vandellas, and The Jackson Five. Hits were made using a quasi-industrial production-line approach. Some considered the sound to be mechanistic but producers and songwriters such as Phil Spector brought artistic judgement to the three minute tunes. Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland were rarely out of the charts for their work as writers and producers for The Supremes, the Four Tops and Martha and the Vandellas. They allowed important elements to shine through the dense musical texture. There was a large emphasis on the rhythm section with handclaps or tambourine. Smokey Robinson was another writer and producer who added lyrics to "The Tracks Of My Tears" which was one of the most important songs of the decade.

Stax Records and Atlantic Records

These independent labels produced high-quality dance records with such singers as Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. They tended to have smaller ensembles marked by expressive gospel-tinged vocals. Brass and Saxophones were also used extensively.

Subgenres of Soul

Detroit (Motown) Soul

Dominated by Berry Gordy's Motown Records empire, Detroit soul is strongly rhythmic and influenced by gospel music. The Motown sound often includes hand clapping, a powerful bass line, violins and bells. Motown Records' house band was The Funk Brothers. Allmusic cites Motown as the pioneering label of pop-soul, a style of soul music with raw vocals, but polished production and toned-down subject matter intended for pop radio and crossover success. Artists of this style included Diana Ross, the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, and Billy Preston. Popular during the 1960s, the style became glossier during the 1970s and led to disco.

Deep Soul and Southern Soul

The terms deep soul and southern soul generally refer to a driving, energetic soul style combining R&B's energy with pulsating southern United States gospel music sounds. Memphis, Tennessee label Stax Records nurtured a distinctive sound, which included putting vocals further back in the mix than most contemporary R&B records, using vibrant horn parts in place of background vocals, and a focus on the low end of the frequency spectrum. The vast majority of Stax releases were backed by house bands Booker T and the MGs (with Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, and Al Jackson) and the Memphis Horns (the splinter horn section of the Mar-Keys).

Memphis Soul

Memphis soul is a shimmering, sultry style of soul music produced in the 1960s and 1970s at Stax Records and Hi Records in Memphis, Tennessee. It featured melancholic and melodic horns, organ, bass, and drums, as heard in recordings by Hi's Al Green and Stax's Booker T. & the M.G.'s. The latter group also sometimes played in the harder-edged Southern soul style. The Hi Records house band (Hi Rhythm Section) and producer Willie Mitchell developed a surging soul style heard in the label's 1970s hit recordings. Some Stax recordings fit into this style, but had their own unique sound.

New Orleans Soul

The New Orleans soul scene directly came out of the rhythm and blues era, when such artists as Little Richard, Fats Domino, and Huey Piano Smith made a huge impact on the pop and R&B charts and a huge direct influence on the birth of Funk music. The principal architect of Crescent City’s soul was songwriter, arranger, and producer Allen Toussaint. He worked with such artists as Irma Thomas (“the Soul Queen of New Orleans”), Jessie Hill, Kris Kenner, Benny Spellman, and Ernie K. Doe on the Minit/Instant label complex to produced a distinctive New Orleans soul sound generating a passel of national hits. Other notable New Orleans hits came from Robert Parker, Betty Harris, and Aaron Neville. While record labels in New Orleans largely disappeared by the mid-1960s, producers in the city continued to record New Orleans soul artists for other mainly New York and Los Angeles record labels—notably Lee Dorsey for New York–based Amy Records and the Meters for New York–based Josie and then LA-based Reprise.

Chicago Soul

Chicago soul generally had a light gospel-influenced sound, but the large number of record labels based in the city tended to produce a more diverse sound than other cities. Vee Jay Records, which lasted until 1966, produced recordings by Jerry Butler, Betty Everett, Dee Clark, and Gene Chandler. Chess Records, mainly a blues and rock and roll label, produced a number of major soul artists. Curtis Mayfield not only scored many hits with his group, The Impressions, but wrote many hit songs for Chicago artists and produced hits on his own labels for The Fascinations and the Five Stairsteps.

Philadelphia Soul

Based primarily in the Philadelphia International record label, Philadelphia soul (AKA Philly Soul) had a lush orchestral sound and doo-wop-inspired vocals. Thom Bell, and Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff are considered the founders of Philadelphia soul.

Psychedelic Soul

Psychedelic soul was a blend of psychedelic rock and soul music in the late 1960s, which paved the way for the mainstream emergence of funk music a few years later. The Politicians were one example.

Blue-eyed Soul

Blue-eyed soul is a term used to describe R&B or soul music performed by white artists. The term does not refer to a distinct style of music, and the meaning of blue-eyed soul has evolved over decades. Originally the term was associated with mid-1960s white artists who performed soul and R&B that was similar to the music released by Motown Records and Stax Records.

What Is Soul? Part 1 Conclusion

Maybe you're wondering what all the above has got to do with Northern Soul? It's simple really, everything! Northern Soul, or at least today's Northern Soul, takes music from almost every kind of black music (and I use the term 'black' here to focus on its heritage), including Cuban and other Carribean styles (but not Ska), as well as the old Blue Eyed Soul and the likes of Popcorn. But what makes it different to any mainstream Blues, Jazz, RnB and Soul, is the rarity of the song or instrumental.

Due in the main to the enourmous effort of music companies like Kent and Ace, and Goldmine Soul Supply, not only can you buy the most amazing Northern Soul CD Albums today, but the span of the collection of music allows you to gain a good insight into the music across todays huge range of styles, at a fraction of the cost of what the true vinyl cost would be, if you were so lucky as to now find and buy it!

Check out the online catalogues of what is available to buy:

for Goldmine Soul Supply

for Kent and Ace Records

Or you can fill out a quick form to get the entire Kent/Ace catalogue:

quick form

There's a slight difference between Kent and Ace Records, although they appear as the same company. The way I look at them is simple; Kent tends to issue the Rare Soul while Ace tends to issue the rare Rock n Roll, Doo-Wop etc. But don't be fooled by my simple explanation. Go through both label's extensive catalogues.

If your new to Northern Soul and want to get a feel for the beginnings, it won't hurt you to try out Goldmines 1995 Release:

The Twisted Wheel Story

Track Listing

    1. Good Time Tonight - Soul Sisters
    2. Shotgun And The Duck - Jackie Lee
    3. The Fife Piper - The Dynatones
    4. You Get Your Kicks - Mitch Ryder
    5. Everybody's Going to a Love In - Bob Brady (and The Conchords)
    6. Karate Boogaloo - Jerry O
    7. Gonna Fix You Good (Everytime You're Bad) - Little Anthony & the Imperials
    8. A Lil' Lovin' Sometimes - Alexander Patten
    9. Ain't No Soul (Left in These 'Ole Shoes) - Ronnie Milsap
    10. Humphrey Stomp - Earl Harrison
    11. That Driving Beat - Willie Mitchell
    12. There's Nothing Else to Say - The Incredibles
    13. Get Out of My Heart - Moses and Joshua Dillard
    14. Dr. Love - Bobby Sheen
    15. Love Is After Me - Charlie Rich
    16. Little Queenie - Bill Black's Combo
    17. Secret Agents - The Olympics
    18. Tightrope - Charlie Foxx
    19. I Got What It Takes - Brooks & Jerry
    20. That's Enough - Roscoe Robinson
    21. Never Love a Robin - Barbara & Brenda
    22. My Elusive Dreams - Moses and Joshua Dillard
    23. The Next in Line - Hoagy Lands
    24. Open the Door to Your Heart - Darrell Banks
    25. It Keeps Rainin' - Fats Domino
    26. Any Day Now (My Wild Beautiful Bird) - Chuck Jackson

Don't misunderstand me please, this CD is about Northern Soul played at The Twisted Wheel in the late 60's, not the Mod scene of the Wheel or earlier.

I have to be honest, the early Goldmine CD's quality was never as good as Kent's, but later on it did improve a lot and besides, we are talking about some old, old rare and sometimes lost treasures where there's only an EMI disc to work from! I don't think between the two, that there's a lot of repetition in songs, since they seemed to source the music from different places.

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