Various Artists – Northern Soul: 20 Original Classics (Spectrum)

by Modculture 13 March, 2011

Various Artists - Northern Soul: 20 Original Classics (Spectrum)

Various Artists - Northern Soul: 20 Original Classics (Spectrum)

To site alongside the ‘starter pack’ of mod tunes (see 20 Original Mod Classics), the same label has done a collection of northern soul, specifically with Northern Soul: 20 Original Classics.

In some ways, it feels like the same album, right down to the Paolo Hewitt sleevenotes. But obviously it’s geared towards a slightly difference market. Or is it? I suspect many of us, at some point, have bought some sort of northern collection in our dim and distant past, whether it’s some Kent vinyl, Up All Night!, the Wigan Casino Story or one of the more recent collections that have appeared in the wake of northern getting some mainstream exposure. And with Soulboy ready for a national cinema release, you suspect there will be a good many more before the year is out. Northern soul might not be strictly ‘mod’, but there’s enough crossover in tunes to give collections like 20 Original Classics some mod appeal.

Indeed, like the Original Mod Classics, this isn’t a bad selection for the money. Yes, there are plenty of obvious tunes, but there’s no Wigan’s Ovation or the ‘3 before 8′ thankfully. But there is Frank Wilson’s Do I Love You. Well, you can’t have everything.

Other obvious tracks making an appearance here include Eddie Holman’s I Surrender, R. Dean Taylor’s There’s A Ghost In My House, Gloria Jones’ Tainted Love, The Flirtations’ Nothing But A Heartache, The Night by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Tony Clarke’s Landslide and Marlena Shaw’s Let’s Wade In The Water.

Less expected tunes include Dusty Springfield’s Live It Up, The Carstairs’ It Really Hurts Me Girl, No One Could Love You More by Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Impressions’ Can’t Satisfy, The Originals’ Suspicion and The Prophets’ I Got The Fever, while somewhere in the middle are tracks like Diana Ross and the Supremes’ Stormy and Chris Clark’s Love’s Gone Bad. Not that either of those are rare, I just expected something even more obvious from the Motown back catalogue.

Overall, the album falls between two stools – the purists will say it isn’t rare enough by a country mile, first-time buyers might bemoan the lack of some of the more obvious tunes and the tracks that have peppered adverts over recent years. But with a price tag of £3.49. I’m saying it’s a good starting point if you want to dip your toe in northern waters. If someone was asking the best part of a tenner for it…well, that would be a very different story.

Find out more about the CD at the Amazon website