Over the years there has been any number of Northern soul compilations all claiming to be “definitive”, “comprehensive” and “essential”. Proper Northern soulers know that’s a lot of nonsense…. no one collection could ever be any of those things. The genre’s just too big; there are too many sub-divisions and interest groups; and, of course, the thorny problem of licensing will always impact on any selection.
Be that as it may, February 16th sees the release of a massive new collection which claims to be…. definitive, comprehensive and essential. Released on Harmless Records, the set’s called THE ODYSSEY: A NORTHERN SOUL TIME CAPSULE and contains a massive 230 tracks. The music is spread across 8 CDs and there’s a pair of DVDs and a 160 page booklet.
Each CD focuses on a particular theme. So CD 1 is called “The Twisted Wheel” while CD 8 is dubbed “The Weekenders Era”. In between there are looks at “The Golden Torch”, “The Blackpool Mecca”, “The 100 Club” and so on…. DVD 1 features Simon White interviewing key people on the Northern scene, while on DVD 2 Richard Searling interviews record dealer Jon Anderson and (maybe rather oddly) Kenny Gamble.
A quick glance at the track list indicates that most of the big tunes are in there but everyone, of course, will suggest others that are conspicuous by their absence. So, for instance, though there are some Motown tunes in the collection there aren’t that many; ditto Chess, while there’s very little to represent the Atlantic/Stax axis – important early on as the Northern mod scene morphed into “Northern”.
THE ODYSSEY: A NORTHERN SOUL TIME CAPSULE is released on Feb. 16th