Jump to content
tomangoes

Northern Soul Usa

Recommended Posts

I know there is a thriving Northern Soul appreciation scene in various parts of the USA now, but when did the Yanks first cotton on to this underground movement.

For example is there any video or cine footage of USA discos etc where our music was being played as new releases and the punters were dancing etc. I have seen clips of soul train etc, buts that mainstream. Surely there must have been something happening over there at the same time as over here.

Researchers come forward now.

Ed

post-1473-1100168048_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

I know there is a thriving Northern Soul appreciation scene in various parts of the USA now, but when did the Yanks first cotton on to this underground movement.

For example is there any video or cine footage of USA discos etc where our music was being played as new releases and the punters were dancing etc. I have seen clips of soul train etc, buts that mainstream. Surely there must have been something happening over there at the same time as over here.

Researchers come forward now.

Ed

link

The Carolinas was really the first area to be aware of the Northern scene. Many similarities between both scenes. A full interview with Myrtle Beach's John Hook will appear in December's NSOUL magazine.

Most of the group collectors were aware in the early 70's, with some disco dj's playing stuff like Eloise Laws-Love Factory as a retro hit in '75.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OHHHHH MAN! This post is stirring some really strong feelings for me. You'd better grab your favorite beverage and get comfortable if you want to get through this long-ass post. But first, let's go back in time to the 70s to address the original question at hand...

As far as things going on during the same time period, the closest things that I can think of are:

1. This doesn't really count, but the hip hop underground movement was a scene that revolved around deejays like Afrikka Bambaata, searching for rare soul records for people to dance to, which in the early 70s would have been pop-locking, doing the funky robot and the beginnings of breakdancing. But the fact still remains-they were seeking funk records and nothing that would truly constitute a "northern" sound. I only mention this because of the similar rituals involved, such as using "cover-ups". Grandmaster Flash actually used to soak his records in the bath tub to get the labels to fall off. Cover ups, doing acrobatic dancing and the fact that the deejay was the focal point of many a demanding crowd, instead of the individual artists on the records that he played, and their whole scene blossoming in the year 1973 seems very "northernesque" in my twisted little opinion.

2. This is a way more solid theory: the oldies scene in Pittsburgh. Since the 1950s, Pittsburgh has had a long-running tradition of their own "oldies" and record collecting. Porky Chedwick, a white deejay who still plays to this day(even in his eighties), started spinning records on WAMO in 1947. He actually was playing rhythm and blues music before Alan Freed, I think. Anyway, he totally controlled what he played and by the 1960s, he had built up a scene that revolved around dancing to his obscurities, very much like Alan Freed's Moondog Ball, except he wasn't playing politics, just killer sounds. By then, other deejays like "Mad Mike" Metrovich and Terry Lee were following suit. Pittsburgh had developed a taste for rarities and a danceable sound. So...in the 60s, when new releases came out with a certain sound, they became Pittsburgh sounds. When discotheques became popular, clubs were spinning a lot of garage/frat rock and soul records that had a four-on-the-floor beat that was easy to dance to. This tradition carried on into the 70s in clubs like the Teen Scene and the White Elephant. Even today, there are still dances and lots of collectors, but it focuses more heavily on rare doo-wop and r&b of the 50s. Not as much uptempo stuff is played. But as far as the soul sounds go, here is a sampling of the records that have been absolute standards in Pittsburgh:

1. Going to a Happening-Tommy Neal (big White Elephant spin)

2. Bearcat-Cecil Garrett and the Fascinations

3. Anyway You Wanta-Harvey (massive, massive standard)

4. The 81-Candy & the Kisses

5. Give In-The Webs

6. Arabian Jerk-Merits

7. When You're Dancing-Cliff Wagner

8. Whip It On Me Baby-Billy Guy

9. A Lot of Love-Taj Mahal

10. The Fife Piper-Dynatones (from Pittsburgh)

11. Bullfight-Chuck Edwards

12. Pass the Hatchet-Roger & the Gypsies

13. Arabia-Delcos (huge one there)

14. Hey Sah Lo Ney-Mickey Lee Lane (a mainstream oldies station in Pittsburgh will throw this on every now and then. That's how huge it is.)

15. Nobody Loves Me Like My Baby-Jimmy Gilford

16. No Time For You-Commands

And the list goes on and on. Funny thing, too: a lot of these Pittsburgh guys have a real taste for doo wop and ballads in general, so they play the ballad sides of some northern records, like:

1. All Sold Out-Apollas(b-side of Mr. Creator)

2. Good Good Lovin'-Blossoms (b-side of That's When the Tears Start)

3. Master Four on Tay-Ster (b-side of Love From the Far East)

4. Why Do I Do These Foolish Things-Magicians (b-side of Is It All Gone)

5. A Real Love-Donnie Wells (b-side of You Got My Love)

6. I Guess That Don't Make Me a Loser-Brothers of Soul (b-side of Hurry Don't Linger)

7. A Toast to You-Louis Curry

Cover-ups have played a huge role in the extremely competitive nature of the deejays and colletors around Pittsburgh, too. Mad Mike was absolutely the granddaddy of cover-ups. He still wouldn't name a record even after it had become known. Unbelievable. Another thing that was really big, was playing "cuts". "Cuts" are the same things as emidiscs. They were made of metal and an easy way for people to have the sounds that everyone was demanding. Someone made a sarcastic comment about Terry Lee once, stating that you could carry around his whole 45 collection with a giant magnet!

As far as the dancing in Pittsburgh, a lot of them have adopted the whole beach thing. They are very close allies of the whole scene in the Carolinas from what I understand. They're really into the "oldies" thing, though. They wouldn't really adopt a soul playlist that had crossover and modern sounds in it, though. They are predominantly 50s and 60s kind of people.

<<>>(mike, you may even want to make it a separate post-not sure)

AMERICA DISCOVERING AND ADOPTING "NORTHERN SOUL" AS WE KNOW IT.

Unlike, the scene in the UK, people here really don't get it. There are very very small handful of people in the USA, not including ex-pats, that really appreciate northern soul and it's traditions, like some people on the west coast like Mike Noriega, Nancy Yahiro, Justin Molnar(ace northern dancer-always has on bags) and a few others that I am not too familiar with. There are also some others scattered about the midwest, like the Circle City Soul Club in Indiana, a guy named Grover in Ohio and a few people on the east coast, such as myself, Greg Tormo, Haim Kenig and a couple of others. I'd love to meet more people like this, too.

In actuality, people have known about northern soul over here since the 70s. But this was only for the purpose of supplying records to people in the UK. A lot of my friends and accquaintances have been supplying records to guys like John Anderson, Guy Hennigan, Martin Koppel, Butch and many others for decades, but when you talk about northern soul in itself, they're clueless and kind of uninterested, unless it's putting money in their pockets. As I once described it to John Manship "they're like mercenaries". A lot of these old dealer guys(but not all of them) can't spot a northern sound unless it's printed on a list! If they can turn over a northern record, it just means being able to afford the doo wop or rockabilly 45 to spin at their gig or put in their collection.

OK, here's where I REALLY get pissed off at people. Damn near everything here is some kind of fashion show. More about the image than the music. Every time you want to put on a do that plays northern soul, you have to do it under the umbrella of MOD! Granted, there are some things I like in that category and I'm not here for all out mod-bashing and I love scooters, but the rituals and behaviors of some of the American wannabe anoraks leave me disgusted, frankly. For the majority of them, it's just about trying to be cool and be on the scene. They are more about getting drunk, popping pills and romanticising the shit out of "Quadrophenia". Everything you play has to be all "groovy" and shit. It's so damn phony here! Then, when I come on and play anything that doesn't sound like Eddie Parker, they clear the floor because they've got blinders on and don't appreciate northern like they think they do. I mean, you could play a track like "Hand It Over" by Chuck Jackson and they'd still walk off. WTF? Unbelievable! It drove me crazy! I don't want northern soul to be the bastard stepchild extension of the scooter scene over here in the states, you know? The reality is: there are just not enough people to go around on the east coast to go strictly northern. You have to appeal to a few different niches to get them in the door. Plus, if you go on a crusade about it, they won't follow because the mod thing has already been something proven to them, so they'll go that way because there is nothing to worry about. Taking on something as unpopular as northern soul has no benefit as far as they are concerned. At least the West Coast has some things going on-I will give them that credit. I wish I had a do to go to that was like the things that they put on. They're into it a bit more out there.

YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT PISSES ME OFF EVEN MORE? Over here, some kid latches on to the whole mod thing, buys a few compilations, plays only the total aggro stuff, blatantly missuses the term "northern soul", mixes it with garage and all of this other shit and calls it a soul night. What the hell is that? Meanwhile, I'm spinning a cherry mint original of the Caressors on RuJac and cueing up an mint east coast issue of Yvonne Baker on turntable 2, while I have stock dance footage of "This England" playing on the TVs above the bar. Think anyone even gives a shit? You think anyone even gets curious enough to ask me what's on that TV screen? NO! Instead, I've got people telling me to "turn it down". And do you think any of these guys gets up early in the morning on a Saturday to dig for records and learn how to look at labels, learn producers names and do research? HELLLL NO! And here's where it really gets crazy: all of the sudden, people are playing soul music more. And proper dos like the ones Kev puts on here in the US are happening over here where I live. Not one person from the small American contingent has reached out to me to be a part of this or any other "proper"(although few) events going on in the US. Imagine being one of the top guys on the east coast who lives and breathes northern soul...then a bona-fide northern soul event comes around within 200 miles of where you live, and nobody has even tried to include you. WHY? (definitely not directed at you either, Kev R.) There is a very simple explanation for this. It's just lack of enthusiasm and interest in things over here. It's nearly impossible to get people to repeatedly come out to a do you put on, here. But, I am on good terms with pretty much everyone that I meet in this community, however, whenever it comes to something getting organized, it doesn't happen. People are just lazy bastards. I have yet to see the kind of comraderie in the states that exists in the UK. I've never even been asked to guest at Subway Soul Club in New York! How obsurd! Also, it's about stealing someone's thunder. With 26 years of collecting, 20 years of DJing skill and a good 13 years of serious interest in northern soul, I most definitely would. So maybe that's what it is. I don't know...I mean, if people are really into this stuff, there should be a soul club that covers the whole US, a soul forum for US people, too. It also bums me out that there aren't more Americans coming onto Soul Source. One one hand, I'm baffled, but on the other, not suprised at all... I feel like the Brits are the only people that ever understand what I'm talking about. (Thanks guys and gals.) God...I feel like I'm at a support group or something and you guys are saying "that's it, let it all out".

In the words of Mugato, in the movie "Zoolander"... "I FEEL LIKE I'M TAKING CRAZY PILLS!!!!!!!!"

post-164-1100193472_thumb.gif

Okay I'm gonna go walk it off, now. Phew!

KTF,

Jas

ps. love to get some feedback on this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the words of Mugato, in the movie "Zoolander"... "I FEEL LIKE I'M TAKING CRAZY PILLS!!!!!!!!"

post-164-1100193472_thumb.gif

Okay I'm gonna go walk it off, now. Phew!

KTF,

Jas

ps. love to get some feedback on this

link

Excellent reading that Jas.... gives us Brits some "insight" into the way things are "stateside"....

Just sorry to read that the "scene" is such hard work for you guys over there.... and then "you" have to read all the "crap" and "bullshit" on forums/lists like this with "us" and our "politics" on the scene about venues, records played or not played, who runs what and where plus the occasional "I know more about NS than you" attitudes :(:P:P:P ....

Oh.... for to have our "numbers" over there.... and us to have your lack of "politics" within the scene over here.... cool.gif

Keep the faith my friend.... :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

great write up again Jas.

Am I right in saying that the black communties very rarely look back and always want the freshest sounds. For example the latest RnB billboard stuff?

Shane

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Top class fella!!

What an excellent insight into how things are over there.

I think that for all those miles between us, the one thing we all share is frustration.

Weird eh?

Take care,

Jamie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest

OHHHHH MAN! This post is stirring some really strong feelings for me. You'd better grab your favorite beverage and get comfortable if you want to get through this long-ass post. But first, let's go back in time to the 70s to address the original question at hand...

Just echoing what PeteStoneIsland said. Brilliant and very interesting post.

You sounded just like Holden Caulfield in 'Catcher In The Rye' ( And I mean that in a good way :P )

More of the same whenever you are ready please Jas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They have books in Sheffield??? :P

link

Yeh Pete.... we also got writing now :( .... you still on "picture only" ones :( ....

MORE OF THE SAME FROM JAS THOUGH :P:P:P:( ....

Edited by vaultofsouler

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Jas.

To be honest I think the vast majority of UK Northern Soul fans also started off in this scene by latching onto teenage fashion things like the various mod revivals, but then developed into liking the music as much as the image.

What I cant understand is that if a crowd over in the States like things such as the Fife Piper and the like, how they did not search for more of the same, as we have in the UK. I read somewhere that the record 'Stepping out of the picture' was bringing more money over in the States than it does in the UK. This record is a good example of Northernesque rare soul, so if it pushes your boat out, surely the collectors who bought it must want more of the same?

Amazingly, at LA 2004, Gwen Owens and her brood were flogging a few singles from her garage clear out, but there was hardly anything that matched her own style (ie Northern Soul), and She had some Beatles singles for sale.

Again thanks for the insight into past and present Northern soul scene USA.

Ed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jas

Briliant post - we all appreciate the time and effort you put in. Thank you.

As an aside, in the mid tempo CD swap, your's was top class, and I know we were all blown away by the cover art.

To put it in the '60's vernacular; man this cat's got soul!

Colin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WOW! Thanks everyone! I really, really appreciate the amount of respect all of you have shown me. Since my post, I have received nothing but kind personal messages and great replies. I'm very flattered and very satisfied by all of this. I plan to research this topic a bit more, since it's something that is very close to me. The parallels of a blue-collar, steel-manufacturing city like Pittsburgh having a culture of record collectors loving doo wop, r&b, and northern soul is just too much of a coincidence to be ignored. I have already contacted a reliable source to get a more complete list of sounds that is undeniably "northern".

I'd also like to delve further into the sounds that came out of Pittsburgh that are northern classics, like Dave Love, Soul Communicaters, L. Allen, etc. I promise you, more information will come. Cities like Pittsburgh and Detroit are very similar, so it's inevitable that the northern sound will come through. Maybe some people who lived there and made music saw themselves as part of an alternate "Motown". I'll have to ask around.

Before the internet, talking to a few people from Pittsburgh was my only means of learning about northern soul. I bought scores of import CDs there, as well. Over the years, the internet has enabled me to learn so much more about this stuff. And web sites and forums like this one have given me the platform that I've needed to ask questions and be able to share all of this otherwise useless information that's in my head. I'd also like to add that every individual whom I've encountered on this forum has been very welcoming to me and quite accomodating. This is exactly what I had hoped for after becoming more active on the forum. The compliments and the tremendous respect are truly bonuses for me. Thank You.

Also, thanks to all of you for the compliments and rave reviews of my Midtempo collection. I put a lot of effort into it because I wanted people to see my amount of admiration for the music and the scene. I also wanted to do some graphic design to please myself, for a change. I always loved the LP cover for Jimmy Hughes 'Steal Away', so the design is sort of a tribute to a great soul LP and legend. I still owe you all some reviews and believe me, you will get them.

It's very nice to be respected by my peers and I've met a lot of really cool people here. I mean, the people at my job didn't even acknowledge my birthday, but you guys did! I look forward to meeting all of you sometime next year, when I FINALLY make it over to the UK.

You'll all be hearing more from me. Glad I could add something to this great site.

KTF,

Jas

ps. PeteStoneIsland, the Wigan CD is great! The whole section with "Tainted Love", "I'm Gettin' On Life", and the home-made version of "Footsee" is killer! Thanks man!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Comment now!

Comments are members only

Join Soul Source - Free & easy!

Sign up now!

Sign in here.

Sign in now!

Related Soul Music Links

×