Wednesday 25 August 2010

Northern Soul Revival?

At the weekend there was an article in The Guide in the Guardian about Northern Soul. When I picked it up over the kitchen table on Saturday morning and saw the cover I gave a kind of cynical grunt. Here we go again, some misguided souls are trying once more to turn the scenesters onto northern soul. It is a prospect that fills me full of dread, people who last month were into crunk or whatever the media had fed them as the sounds to be heard talking about listening to, will be going down the charity shop trying to find an original Adidas or Gola holdall which they can then fill with their vest tops, high-waister trousers and dodgy cd compilations.

I had to check myself, as that alter ego of mine the music snob was coming to the fore. Didn't I post more than my share of northern tracks on my blog in order to turn people onto the pleasure that can be attained through listening and dancing to the 4/4 beat of tracks like What, Seven Days is Too Long and Love Factory to name but three. Am I not being just a little bit hypocritical here? I asked myself.

I really hate when I start to act like a holier than thou music snob, it really isn't a trait that endears you to anyone except others who like to think that their taste is that much better than everybody else. The type that believe that in knowing who produced the b-side to a long deleted, over rated, obscure , only ever available in Detroit for 2 short months during 1965 7" inch single puts them on a par with Einstein. So I will try to be a little less cynical and agree that anything that turns people on to the joy of northern soul is a good thing and it means that some people may eventually receive the plaudits and royalties that they deserve.

However, we have all seen this phenemenon before, every couple of years somebody thinks that it is time for Northern Soul to become hip and we have to endure adverts for shit chicken, dodgy banks and even dodgier wine being soundtracked by one northern soul classic or another.

There is hope however.

Not one of these campaigns has been that successful, yes there have been the extremely shady Now That's What I call 100 Northern Soul classics cd compilations and the obligatory Keep The Faith T-shirts on show but the fad never seems to last.

I have a theory as to why this happens and it is that you can't just poke your big toe in northern soul you have to immerse your whole body in it. There is that much of it that it will take you a life time to get to grips with it and it is not something to dabble in. The other reason is, and I'm not being a music snob about this but it is an acquired taste. I have friends who like most of the music I like but who don't see the fascination in the 4/4 beat or the endless lyrics about love and loss and baulk at the idea of paying anything from twenty to hundreds of pounds for a 7" inch single. I sometimes pity these individuals but cannot condemn them for not liking it.

So hopefully after a few months of the two films on the subject being released and some toe curling use of some classic tracks in adverts or even worse music to accompany footage of over priced footballers with not an ounce of the talent of say, Jackie Wilson, putting the ball in the back of a net, northern soul will go back to doing what northern soul does best hyping up old soul tunes to stupid buggers like me who will pay over he odds for singles that are older than  a lot of the people buying them.

Anyway here is Edwyn Collins' homage to all things Northern

Edwyn Collins - Keep On Burning


Simon said...

Ah but imagine being 13 and hearing some of this stuff for the first time. If its some misguided ad campaign opening up their eyes to the northern treasure trove then some good will have come of it.

Swiss Adam said...

I think the music's too obscure too be picked up fully by the kids, too faceless. It's got cache among the journos, admen, film makers etc but it hasn't got 'ahem' the x factor to go huge now. But I agree with your sentiments and the music snob inside us wants our little secrets to stay hidden. And like Simon says, maybe some people will get into it and begin a lifetime of loving it.

drew said...

I wouldn't mind if it did get some new blood into the music but credit where it's due Craig Charles is doing more to highlight old and new soul than these films ever will.

I just hate to see great music devalued in this way.