FACT: NORTHERN SOUL IS THE MOST enduring underground music scene in Britain. Accidentally conceived in clubs in the north of England some 30 years ago, when DJs took to spinning rare and undiscovered gems from obscure American soul labels at their all-night raves, northern soul has proved to be a music inspiring devotional fervour.
The vibrancy, emotional resonance and driving universality of up-tempo ’60s black pop music has meant that, while never generating new artists or streams of hit singles, northern soul has never been out of fashion. Dexys, Weller and The Verve have extolled the sound’s virtues, ‘new’ tracks turn up every year, as music archaeologists dig deep in the vaults of long-lost labels, and the CD revolution has finally meant that once expensive rarities are finally available to a wider audience.
‘Soul Survivors 2’ is the follow-up to the biggest-selling northern soul CD of all time and, like its predecessor, is compiled by the music’s biographer, co-instigator and unofficial archivist, Russ Winstanley.
Contemporary pop’s debt to northern soul gets paid back a little by the inclusion of Labelle’s ‘Lady Marmalade’, as covered by All Saints, and Just Brothers’ ‘Sliced Tomatoes’, which formed the lion’s share of Fatboy Slim’s ‘The Rockafeller Skank’. You’ll be surprised how much of this seemingly unfamiliar music you recognise.
The second half indulges Winstanley’s tastes in the later, disco-influenced sounds that some purists baulk at, but no matter: ‘Soul Survivors 2’ provides a brilliant introduction to one of British music’s most enduring sounds and gives you a ready-made Christmas party tape to boot.