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The Truth About Northern Soul by Stephen Riley Review

The Truth About Northern Soul by Stephen Riley Review magazine cover


There's a plethora of books readily available on the subject of "Northern Soul". I've ploughed through a good number of them....they're mainly (not all) personal memoirs of the Scene back in the 70's and most of them are poorly written, turgid affairs which rely on photographs to carry them. Most of them are fixated with Wigan Casino. There are exceptions, of course, but not many.

'The Truth About Northern Soul' is Stephen Riley's analysis of the Scene, warts and all, from it's early days and on to the beast it has become in the 2020's.
It's a quite brilliant attempt at debunking the rose tinted mythology which surrounds Northern Soul.

His narrative style is engaging and immensely readable. His argument is well articulated and well researched. Whilst not agreeing with everything he puts forward, I would say that he pretty much hits the nail on the head.

I reckon the book will have broad appeal and could easily be used as an educational tool for those with any sort of appetite for what is one of this country's most enduring sub cultures.

I recommend it unreservedly.

Dim 2020
aka member  @Dim
 

site note - available in both Kindle (£3.00 and Paperback versions (seen at £9.99 )

You can view/read a preview of the kindle version of 'The Truth About Northern Soul' further down the page...

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soul IMG_20200226_112214




Kindle Soul Live Preview

Click on the cover or buttons below to read
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Source Magazine Comments

Winsford Soul

Posted

Does anyone know if there's a hardback edition.  

JimmyTee

Posted

2 hours ago, Winsford Soul said:

Does anyone know if there's a hardback edition.  

The author is on Facebook if that helps you find out.I'm sure he was posting about it recently.

Woodbutcher

Posted

3 hours ago, Winsford Soul said:

Does anyone know if there's a hardback edition.  

Only a Kindle version for £3.00 or paperback at £9.99.

Winsford Soul

Posted

51 minutes ago, JimmyTee said:

The author is on Facebook if that helps you find out.I'm sure he was posting about it recently.

Not on Facebook but thanks for the reply.  

Winsford Soul

Posted

27 minutes ago, WoodButcher said:

Only a Kindle version for £3.00 or paperback at £9.99.

Cheers mate.  That's all I could find, was hoping for a hardback edition but looking like a paperback for me. 

Geeselad

Posted

Rather harsh on other books, 'turgid affairs'. 'the beast it is today', well that would be a toothless and impotent beast that's a shadow of its former self IMHO.  

  • Up vote 1
Tobytyke

Posted

How can you buy it?

Mike

Posted

57 minutes ago, Tobytyke said:

How can you buy it?

one way be to just hit the amazon links that show on the article

they should take you to the product page on amazon

see em?

  • Up vote 1
Mike

Posted

2 hours ago, Geeselad said:

Rather harsh on other books, 'turgid affairs'. 'the beast it is today', well that would be a toothless and impotent beast that's a shadow of its former self IMHO.  

no big thing though, as we are talking about a reviewer reviewing right?

Geeselad

Posted

29 minutes ago, Mike said:

no big thing though, as we are talking about a reviewer reviewing right?

Your right Mike, don't see why you need to out other publications down in the process though, which I feel makes me valid in reviewing the review. 

  • Up vote 1
Paul-s

Posted

This book sounds interesting and researched so I'm looking forward to reading it.

I think (like Dim) it is ok to critique some of the plethora of self published memoirs on Northern Soul that are claiming the history of the scene merely through their own, sometimes venue limited, views. This one (below) for instance actually puts me off just by its historically flimsy claims in the promotional blurb.

Quote

"Northern Soul and specifically Wigan Casino are still regarded today as something that truly made a significant mark on the uk's musical history. Largely credited as a movement that began in northern England whose roots were heavily influenced by black American soul singers. This is a personal recollection of an era that moved in the shadows of popular culture during the seventies and seldom fell into the public domain unless highlighted for all the wrong reasons. Wigan Casino was a venue that created a subculture that was so diverse that it grew into legendary status without the need for todays commercial advantages. Today it is played to audiences world wide and it still retains it's own individualism along with a status that allows it to be truly recognised as a major contributor to the history of British music. This book will resonate with those people who took a similar journey into the long nights of Northern Soul while also striking a familiar chord with those who spent their youth surviving the many diverse and painful years of the seventies and eighties".

 

  • Up vote 1
Chalky

Posted

I think Dim is pretty much spot on with his opinion of other books detailing the various authors lives on the scene. As Stephen Riley is a lecturer and a writer this looks like it may have some depth to it so I will probably invest in the kindle version. 

  • Up vote 4
John Hart

Posted

Just Pressed on Amazon Link £18.99 to Malaga ,Spain , The Truth ,The Whole Truth and nothing but the Truth.!! . As a " Speed "{ No pun Intended} reader will arise from my bored S.S hibernation and Review said tome ! 

                                                             LOL , hasta Luego Johnny Hart.

  • Up vote 2
Dim

Posted

13 hours ago, Geeselad said:

Rather harsh on other books, 'turgid affairs'. 'the beast it is today', well that would be a toothless and impotent beast that's a shadow of its former self IMHO.  

I can only speak from personal experience in terms of the books that I've read and I was just attempting to give some context to this particular book. While many of the others may not be to my taste, I would never name the books or the authors as I have a great deal of respect for the effort, time and passion it takes to undertake such a monumental task. 

I think in many ways the Scene is a beast. More people are attending more events at present than at any time, including the so called halcyon days, back in the 70s and early 80s.The money being generated through events, memorabilia sales, book and magazine sales, record/cd/mp3 sales must run into millions  of pounds. 

One of the unpleasant side effects of all of this burgeoning interest is the fragmentation and factionalism that pervades the current scene.... but that's another story. 🤗

  • Up vote 1
Zoomsoulblue

Posted

Factionalism refers to arguments or disputes between two or more small groups from within a larger group. There has been a substantial amount of factionalism within the movement.
 

It might be my age my ill spent youth - or simply am thick - but I’ve never come across this word before and am only 61 - and if I ain’t am sure there’s a few more out there - years ago when people used words like this, they generally were educated- which means they were posh - hence these words were know as “posh words“

🤔👍🏻👍🏻

Dim

Posted

1 hour ago, Zoomsoulblue said:

Factionalism refers to arguments or disputes between two or more small groups from within a larger group. There has been a substantial amount of factionalism within the movement.
 

It might be my age my ill spent youth - or simply am thick - but I’ve never come across this word before and am only 61 - and if I ain’t am sure there’s a few more out there - years ago when people used words like this, they generally were educated- which means they were posh - hence these words were know as “posh words“

🤔👍🏻👍🏻

There are several definitions... I prefer the Cambridge dictionary..

Factionalism:

'a situation in which a group forms within a larger group, especially one with slightly different ideas from the main group' 

Just for perspective I was born and brought up in Council houses for most of my life. I'm  so posh that at 66 years of age, I still work 3 shifts full time in a factory. 

Do you know the meaning of the word 'patronise'? 

19 hours ago, Geeselad said:

Rather harsh on other books, 'turgid affairs'. 'the beast it is today', well that would be a toothless and impotent beast that's a shadow of its former self IMHO.  

I can only speak from personal experience in terms of the books that I've read and I was just attempting to give some context to this particular book. While many of the others may not be to my taste, I would never name the books or the authors as I have a great deal of respect for the effort, time and passion it takes to undertake such a monumental task. 

I think in many ways the Scene is a beast. More people are attending more events at present than at any time, including the so called halcyon days, back in the 70s and early 80s.The money being generated through events, memorabilia sales, book and magazine sales, record/cd/mp3 sales must run into millions  of pounds. 

One of the unpleasant side effects of all of this burgeoning interest is the fragmentation and factionalism that pervades the current scene.... but that's another story. 🤗

  • Up vote 1
Chalky

Posted

Factionalism has always been there on the scene.  Right back to the Wheel as the scene split from the mods to northern I have seen quotes that are disparaging from one group to another.

  • Up vote 2
Soulstrutter

Posted

17 minutes ago, Chalky said:

Factionalism has always been there on the scene.  Right back to the Wheel as the scene split from the mods to northern I have seen quotes that are disparaging from one group to another.

Sadly it's human nature ... it stems from the basic human need of wanting 'significance/difference' ... just look at the state of religion and politics.  In psychology it's called 'tallest building syndrome'  ... you can have it either by building a taller one or knocking down the opponent's one. i.e. the easiest option is to 'knock down' than to 'build up'.

  • Up vote 4
Gold Band

Posted

I think the word fractious maybe a better word to use for some on here and yes i went to a comprehensive and lived in a council house. I attended some great clubs in my teens before the commercialisation of the scene but I for one am convinced it will get back to its old ways just hope my feet can keep on dancing when that happens, on a dance floor not covered in broken glass & beer where people have respect for others again.

Kirsty

  • Up vote 5
Timillustrator

Posted

 

On 28/02/2020 at 09:14, Winsford Soul said:

Does anyone know if there's a hardback edition.  

It was Kindle only until recently, the paperback has just come out but at 160 pages £9.99 seems a bit steep to me.

  • Up vote 1
Timillustrator

Posted

On 28/02/2020 at 17:51, paul-s said:

This book sounds interesting and researched so I'm looking forward to reading it.

I think (like Dim) it is ok to critique some of the plethora of self published memoirs on Northern Soul that are claiming the history of the scene merely through their own, sometimes venue limited, views. This one (below) for instance actually puts me off just by its historically flimsy claims in the promotional blurb.

 

I would have thought that it's fair enough to review actually published books on here critically, although there's also a higher than average chance the author may join in or take offence. Not read that particular one but have read 4 other self-published books on NS. All to greater or less extent suffer from the faults that all books without a publisher do - lack of proofreading, mistakes, typos, historical innacuracies, lack of research. Two were pretty good though with some nice writing and interesting personal insights; one was not. 

 

  • Up vote 3
Guest Shufflin

Posted

7 minutes ago, Timillustrator said:

Two were pretty good though with some nice writing and interesting personal insights

if you don't mind sharing which were those?

Sunnysoul

Posted (edited)

What is a little contradictory is that Dim's review states that: " The Truth About Northern Soul' is Stephen Riley's analysis of the Scene, warts and all, from it's early days and on to the beast it has become in the 2020's "  ... yet the rear cover of the book itself refers to the scene as a " 1970's club scene " ???

Isn't it a scene that had it's genesis in the 60's and has continued unabated to the present day ?

Edited by Sunnysoul
  • Up vote 2
Julianb

Posted

The scene was going from the early 60s, but not called 'northern soul ' until 1971 when Dave Godin called it this after his trip to the Wheel in December  1970. I know, I was there 👍

  • Up vote 2
Hooker1951

Posted

1 hour ago, Julianb said:

The scene was going from the early 60s, but not called 'northern soul ' until 1971 when Dave Godin called it this after his trip to the Wheel in December  1970. I know, I was there 👍

Your right Julian I was there too

ML

  • Up vote 1
Dim

Posted

12 hours ago, Hooker1951 said:

Your right Julian I was there too

ML

You are both correct of course. But Stephen Riley's book is a Northern Soul rather than a Rare Soul tome. 

So he covers the period post Twisted Wheel... Flamingo etc. 

  • Up vote 1
Paul-s

Posted

Got my copy and very enjoyable. It is another personal account and it is good that it doesn't paint the usual confused and reimagined 'rose tinted' experience and scene.

In terms of DIMS comment:


 

Quote

"I reckon the book will have broad appeal and could easily be used as an educational tool for those with any sort of appetite for what is one of this country's most enduring sub cultures."

 

It will have broad appeal.

But, it would have been good to see Stephen (who is an academic, Dr) unpick some of the accounts that have gone before and which he deems as not telling the truth in more detail (which takes time and patience). It's very easy to criticise something, say something is inaccurate or not the truth, but to take it into the level of an educational tool it's not enough just to just do that and you must critique it. You then need to show and reveal why those previous accounts are biased or inaccurate in at least some detail. Thats why it remains as a personal account and readers are left to compare it themselves to the other books that provide solely personal accounts, or to their own experiences. It would have been good to see a bibliography to confirm which books/accounts Stephen  has read and was referring to. The discography, as any discography, provides a personal account and is useful. I am not a fan of Wikipedia references as they are not a source of accuracy and open to anyone applying their opinion or edit, be it true or false.

Saying that, I enjoyed Stephens book and it resonated with many aspects of my own experience and it does indeed provide an alternative view to the bulk of, often lazily written and inaccurate, accounts that pop up seemingly every other week: often partisan and rambling.

The word 'Truth' in the title and declarations in the book is obviously a dubious one as 'truth' is a very slippery, subjective and problematic word to apply to any account of events, so I take it with a pinch of salt, as it should be taken.

A recommended read for sure.

  • Up vote 7
Timillustrator

Posted

Well it's piqued my interest enough to shell out three quid for the Kindle version!

  • Up vote 2
Monny1916

Posted

What a fantastic book, over the last couple of days I have been transported back to 1971 without my knowledge,, If you're over 60 and frequented niters regularly READ IT we are kids again regards Stephen 

  • Up vote 1
  • Thanks 1
Mark B

Posted

i have the kindle version and dip in and out i have known stephen since 1971/72 he was my brothers friend they met when they started as apprentice gas engineers at british gas and it was through my brother and stephen and his friends that i was introduced to the world of all nighter all dayers and soul nights. i already had a love of soul music as that was the staple at scholl doiscos and youth clubs in the late 60's early 70's

  • Up vote 1
John Hart

Posted

Great Little Read; Loved the ,Most comprehensive listing of recreational drugs ever ,I missed a few ?  Pages Of  Record listings of popular sounds from my youth , { Pacific Gas and Electric " Are You Ready " forgotten also ran , Magic!} ..Covers the 70s mainly ,but Stephen does get up to date,  his Views on the O.V.O . Mob,,,absolutely spot on ! 

The Truth Hurts ?  "  To repeat myself ," The Follies Of Our Youth are in Retrospect Glorious,, Compared to the Follies of Old Age ! " RIP Terry Jones . Highly recommended Book on the Northern Scene ! Stephen Riley ; Artist ,Lecturer, writer ,Presenter ,Painter, Photographer  and like you and me and thousand of others,,," We where the Scene , the Drugs, the Bootlegged records, the dancing ,the Crazy fashions ,the Travel, the aggresion ,the Togetherness ,and as uncomfortable as that may seem now ,,it is the Truth !! 

                                                                 John ,Malaga,Spain.

  • Up vote 2


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