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Should you dance Northern to Motown?


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Posted

Myself and a good friend who have both been into Northern for nearly 50 years discuss this a lot. We both like Motown but we love Northern. We have in the past left venues when in our humble opinion there has been too much Motown played(not advertised).

Any thoughts on this and whether it is ok or not to dance Northern to Motown?
There are some fantastic Motown songs and I could select a couple of dozen or so where you could get away with it.

 

Tomo

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You obviously need to put down the smartphone , set aside those blinkers , open your ear'oles and start doing a little more listening if you can only think of a dozen ...  I recall one memorable n

Thank you to everyone for your comments, I’m still learning and I always value another person’s view whether I agree with it or not. I bow down to you guys on here with the superior knowledge all abou

i do the same dance to any soul music 60s to y2k if it moves you just dance

Posted (edited)

You obviously need to put down the smartphone , set aside those blinkers , open your ear'oles and start doing a little more listening if you can only think of a dozen ... :facepalm:

I recall one memorable night at Frames in Cambridge when Max put on a Motown all-niter and not one tune was repeated ... :shades:

 

P.S. How much of your beloved 'N.S' do you think would have been recorded if half the youth of '60's America weren't trying to emulate that Hitsville sound ... ?

Edited by WoodButcher
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Posted

Firstly I appreciate your opinion, I don’t need anyone to tell me what to listen too.

To answer your question was wasn’t my point, the couple of dozen or so are to me the Motown records that I think that you can get away with playing at a Northern night. 

 I fully recognise that most if not all Northern was down to artists trying to emulate that Hitsville sound, never would dispute that.

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Posted

Well-how would you dance to Motown,other than in the `Northern` style?

Which Motown records are you talking about,that made you leave?

Unless you take your handbag with you????

BTW you ain`t got the longest serving medal!

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Posted
9 hours ago, Tomo said:

Myself and a good friend who have both been into Northern for nearly 50 years discuss this a lot. We both like Motown but we love Northern. We have in the past left venues when in our humble opinion there has been too much Motown played(not advertised).

Any thoughts on this and whether it is ok or not to dance Northern to Motown?
There are some fantastic Motown songs and I could select a couple of dozen or so where you could get away with it.

 

Tomo

It might be handy if you could explain the difference between most Northern and most Motown, especially from a dance floor perspective. 

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Posted

I don’t profess to be any long serving expert the point I was making is that this has always been my view right or wrong. I’m certainly not into the soul police or politics. I will try and explain MY point of view, at certain large city venues( my own city has 2 a year)in the main room they are playing, third finger left hand, jimmy Mack, heaven must have sent you etc etc a lot of people like that style but not me and again MY point of view dancing to that music is different to dancing to northern.

 

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i do the same dance to any soul music 60s to y2k if it moves you just dance

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I "think" I know what you mean, but I could be wrong, as I don't believe you're being very clear in your explanation. However, regardless of exactly what you mean, I think you're wrong. I probably dance the same way now as I did in 1970, albeit much more slowly, and even then only when my hip and knees allow!  The "style" I dance in was learned whilst dancing to exactly the type of Motown tunes you describe, I.e., Jimmy Mack etc. and well before the soul scene became known as the Northern scene. Just about every single soul tune we danced to in those long ago days was either Motown or Stax based. Two very different sounds, but with exactly the same dance moves. Bloody hell, a massive chunk of the tunes played at the Wheel were Motown!  As we got older, we just carried on dancing to newer discoveries in the same way. Many of our moves we copied from The Temptations, Sam and Dave, Jackie Wilson etc. I would never have dreamed of dancing in different ways to Reach out, Soothe me, or Baby Reconsider. To me, they're all the same, and without Jimmy Mack and those others, we'd never have had a soul scene in the UK. So, I've always been quite happy to dance to Motown at a Northern night or Niter, especially the more common numbers, and have also always taken the view that Messrs Searling and Winstanley were 100% incorrect and well out of order by labelling Motown as nothing more than pop music, especially given the pop music they were both happily playing at the time. 

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Agreed Joey, I’m most probably not explaining myself clear enough and I fully respect your view. I grew up dancing to Northern, we never really danced to Motown even at the school disco or youth clubs. I suppose we were doing it for a reason more than because we didn’t like the music. We would take our own records for djs to play at the pop n crisp night discos and then also on to the top rank. I missed out on places like the wheel and maybe if I had attended venues like that then I would’ve appreciated them more. 

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1 hour ago, Joey said:

I "think" I know what you mean, but I could be wrong, as I don't believe you're being very clear in your explanation. However, regardless of exactly what you mean, I think you're wrong. I probably dance the same way now as I did in 1970, albeit much more slowly, and even then only when my hip and knees allow!  The "style" I dance in was learned whilst dancing to exactly the type of Motown tunes you describe, I.e., Jimmy Mack etc. and well before the soul scene became known as the Northern scene. Just about every single soul tune we danced to in those long ago days was either Motown or Stax based. Two very different sounds, but with exactly the same dance moves. Bloody hell, a massive chunk of the tunes played at the Wheel were Motown!  As we got older, we just carried on dancing to newer discoveries in the same way. Many of our moves we copied from The Temptations, Sam and Dave, Jackie Wilson etc. I would never have dreamed of dancing in different ways to Reach out, Soothe me, or Baby Reconsider. To me, they're all the same, and without Jimmy Mack and those others, we'd never have had a soul scene in the UK. So, I've always been quite happy to dance to Motown at a Northern night or Niter, especially the more common numbers, and have also always taken the view that Messrs Searling and Winstanley were 100% incorrect and well out of order by labelling Motown as nothing more than pop music, especially given the pop music they were both happily playing at the time. 

Searling, "incorrect and well out of order by labelling Motown as nothing more than pop music" Is that factually correct? 

Knowing Richard as I do, it would come as a surprise if he ever held that view.

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Posted

Both were most definitely reputed to hold that view back in the early days of Wigan. It was common knowledge, spoken about and argued over, and over the years has also been referred to several times on this forum. Things were said and done by plenty of people back then that would almost certainly be denied today. And I include myself in that.

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I doubt Richard holds that view today, maybe back then as much of the Motown released then was pop/mor, chart based rather than a lot of the soulful stuff that has turned up since from the vaults

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6 minutes ago, Chalky said:

I doubt Richard holds that view today, maybe back then as much of the Motown released then was pop/mor, chart based rather than a lot of the soulful stuff that has turned up since from the vaults

I agree. I also very much doubt he holds the same views today. It was a bone of contention to many of us back then. In the first two and a bit years of the Casino, I can only ever remember he and Russ playing one Motown record, Ghost in my House. And even then it was only probably because it was such a monster at the Mecca. 

 But I would disagree with your assessment of what was available to play. The Wheel playlists contained a great many Motown tunes, and everyone in attendance would have laughed at them being termed as pop/mor. One of the very biggest tunes at the Torch was Tell me it's just a rumour. Levine was playing top notch Motown album tracks at the Mecca between 72 and 74, such as Only your love can save me, and Gladys's version of Ain't no sun. Many smaller clubs also continued to play plenty of Motown. So, there was plenty to play, but the choice was made not to at Wigan. As before, those views on Motown were common knowledge at the Casino back then, and many people actually agreed wholeheartedly with them. The wealth of non Motown tunes that had been discovered between early 71 and late 74, thanks mostly to Levine and Pep, meant that the Motown catalogue didn't really need dipping into anyway. It was what it was, and many could argue into the wee small hours about what happened back then, and whether it was right or wrong. Hindsight, and age, probably changes a lot of views. I know it certainly does with me, and although I held many views back then which make me cringe today, history should never be rewritten. 

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Posted

Stevies uptight, isleys why when love, temps why you wannabe make me blue, edwins weakness, contours misunderstanding, and about 500 others...

How else could you dance to them?

Fair enough if happy go lucky 3rd finger or baby love comes on you might have to simplify the moves like for queen of fools..

Ed

 

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2 hours ago, Joey said:

I agree. I also very much doubt he holds the same views today. It was a bone of contention to many of us back then. In the first two and a bit years of the Casino, I can only ever remember he and Russ playing one Motown record, Ghost in my House. And even then it was only probably because it was such a monster at the Mecca. 

Russ and/or Richard played R. Dean Taylor and Junior Walker ‘I Ain't Going Nowhere’ during my first two visits to the Casino March 1974. A few years later, the Casino was holding monthly Motown Allnighters on a Friday. This reflects the staggering wealth of danceable Motown related records. The Northern scene grew from Motown roots and the independent labels that sought to emulate Hitsville’s success. 

In reply to the original post, promoters put on DJ’s to please the dancefloor so  Motown sounds evidently appeal to many of those attending who want to dance. In any case, there is no need to dance differently to Motown tracks as the more up-tempo ones have the same four beats to the bar as many Northern classics. That said, any dancer who knows where it’s at, would interpret the music played and respond accordingly by varying their foot movements.

I guess much depends on the venues you attend, any music policy advertised and who rolls up on the night.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Jaco said:

Bloody hell, a massive chunk of the tunes played at the Wheel were Motown!  

Perhaps it would be easier if everybody stopped calling the Wheel a northern soul club, it most certainly wasn't. For most of it's existence the Wheel played rare(r) soul along side new soul releases, it was only at the back end, that Dave Godin coined the phrase. The Niter Scene as it was called then, started being the Northern Scene, i.e. rare(r) soul based, around the time of Up The Junction and the Torch, even then most people still called it the Niter Scene.

I would imagine any half decent danceable soul record, regardless of label, got spins as a new release at the Wheel at some point.

Edited by Kegsy
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Posted (edited)

How much I've always love Motown as a label... But when we're talking 'bout the typical 'Motown Sound' (1964-1969) that made their 'trade mark' and fame stronghold, to hear too much of these sound/tunes in a row can be bloody tiring to my ears before hitting on my nerves. It still is a 'banging' sound !!!

Remember late 90 seing a Motown 'revival' upcoming on the UK northern soul scene with promotions for such orientated 'special events' flowering up and thinking to myself 'I couldn't survive in such a night'. Nor would I at a northern soul night where one could expect creative DJ's (if ever) to spare us that.

The "scene" then was talking a turn. A bit like when I first heard 'mod/pop-corn' being played at the 100 Club cringing to myself this is the beginning of the end. Lord 'aw mercy. Admitting that I didn't commit myself into "IT" much more than that. Only attending and enjoying what I felt was the best of it.

Some 3 years ago I did a 1 hour podcast of Motown for the commemoration of a Motown fan. Hopefully I could go down the Motown road with 'early' sounds, 'ballads' and non-Motown productions but leased to vary the sound, beat and feel. Still presenting that singular Motown spectrum but in shades and variations.

Without the urge of being pressed to please a 'dance floor' and keep it going. Because evidently that Motown "easy" soulful 'clean' pop is danceable. My guess as to why some promoters went down that road. And with a "broad" public, nothing like the old 'rare' souls or 'connoisseurs' out there, a safe recipe for ongoing dance floor action.

So yes, I got instantly the OP's intention on his very quest. And yes, too much Motown kills the Motown. Even it's 'lover' in me. 

Edited by Tlscapital
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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Tomangoes said:

Stevies uptight, isleys why when love, temps why you wannabe make me blue, edwins weakness, contours misunderstanding, and about 500 others..

No need to go that far, Tomo get yourself a copy of Edwin Starr's Soul Master album, it will at least demonstrate the thin line between Motown and Northern. It contains more recognised northern tunes per square inch than any other, despite it being on Motown. 

Edited by Kegsy
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46 minutes ago, Kegsy said:

No need to go that far, Tomo get yourself a copy of Edwin Starr's Soul Master album, it will at least demonstrate the thin line between Motown and Northern. It contains more recognised northern tunes per square inch than any other, despite it being on Motown. 

Never without a copy when I was DJing. Agree with every word.

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1 hour ago, Kegsy said:

Perhaps it would be easier if everybody stopped calling the Wheel a northern soul club, it most certainly wasn't. For most of it's existence the Wheel played rare(r) soul along side new soul releases, it was only at the back end, that Dave Godin coined the phrase. The Niter Scene as it was called then, started being the Northern Scene, i.e. rare(r) soul based, around the time of Up The Junction and the Torch, even then most people still called it the Niter Scene.

I would imagine any half decent danceable soul record, regardless of label, got spins as a new release at the Wheel at some point.

Once again, I cant but help agree with all you say. I really can't recall saying I was into "Northern" soul until probably late 72. Many places, such as the Pendulum and Central, were, to most of us, just soul clubs. And as you say, the Wheel, Junction, Torch etc. were just known as Niters.  Many newly released Motown records, plus many new sounds on other labels, got played at the Wheel, as they actually did at the Torch. Johnny Johnson, Philip Mitchell, and Jimmy James immediately spring to mind, and remember, one of the Torch's greatest anthems, Otis Smiths Let Her Go, was newly released in the 'States when it was first played there and at the Mecca. TBH, I've always hated that bloody descriptive term DG coined.

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6 hours ago, Frankie Crocker said:

Russ and/or Richard played R. Dean Taylor and Junior Walker ‘I Ain't Going Nowhere’ during my first two visits to the Casino March 1974. A few years later, the Casino was holding monthly Motown Allnighters on a Friday. This reflects the staggering wealth of danceable Motown related records. The Northern scene grew from Motown roots and the independent labels that sought to emulate Hitsville’s success. 

In reply to the original post, promoters put on DJ’s to please the dancefloor so  Motown sounds evidently appeal to many of those attending who want to dance. In any case, there is no need to dance differently to Motown tracks as the more up-tempo ones have the same four beats to the bar as many Northern classics. That said, any dancer who knows where it’s at, would interpret the music played and respond accordingly by varying their foot movements.

I guess much depends on the venues you attend, any music policy advertised and who rolls up on the night.

I'd clean forgotten about the Jr. Walker track getting a spin or two at Wigan. I always remember it as being played well before the casino opened though, maybe as an LP track at the Mecca? Memory is far too dusty this morning! 🙂 

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Posted

Thank you to everyone for your comments, I’m still learning and I always value another person’s view whether I agree with it or not. I bow down to you guys on here with the superior knowledge all about soul, that is why I joined this site. I love to read the articles and in the short time I’ve been on here I have read some great stories and found out some amazing facts. 

Kegsy I was certainly keep my eye out for that album pal. 
 

Cheers

Tomo
 

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I find it staggering that people still do not accept that the pre '71 scene at clubs like the Wheel or the Catacombs or a number of other clubs for that matter was not a fully formed "northern soul scene". Having said that, I do respect that people can and do have the opposite view ... as expressed earlier in this thread ... and I'm happy to leave it at that and not hi-jack this topic which is not about the genesis of the northern soul scene. The issue has been debated several times before over the years on Soul Source. But feel free to start a new separate topic on the genesis of the "northern soul scene" and we can debate it all over again!

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Posted

Always intrested seeing the views of people on this forum,  the vast knowledge of some is fantastic,  regards the dancing question, dance to the record only yourself feels it , my love of Motown opened a door into the world of northern soul and i love them both.

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Never dance northern ( whatever that is ) @ A wedding reception, best stick To whoops upside yur head & the time warp !

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I would have thought that a well seasoned "Soulie" would have various dance steps/styles to suit all types of Soul music be it slow-mid tempo or up tempo. There are however some Motown records that we always considered to be commercial music,like 3rd finger left hand by Martha & the Vandellas which we wouldn't dance to. On the flipside a Motown record again by Martha & the Vandellas record Heatwave we found it impossible to sit down to!  Another example is needle in a haystack by the Velvelettes that we wouldn't dance too as we  again found it too commercial,  too mainstream andmaybe not underground soul.Yes there were Motown Sounds that appealed to mainstream audiences and ones that appealed to us "Soulies"yet still under the Motown label. Another Northern Soul record is Al Wilson's the Snake,recognised by the general listener as Every Northern "Soulies" dream record when in fact it was quite the opposite.   Regards Fred.

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