VARIOUS:Northern Soul – 20 Original Classics (Spectrum/Universal)

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  • VARIOUS:Northern Soul – 20 Original Classics (Spectrum/Universal)

There was a time when compilations like this came thick and fast – almost one every week and all claiming to be the “definitive” or the “best ever” Northern soul collection. I’ve not seen too many new ones in recent months so this set from Universal’s budget Spectrum label is more than welcome – especially as it doesn’t claim to be anything like “ultimate”. Rather, it simply claims that the 20 selected cuts are all classics of the genre… and you know compiler Johnny Chandler has got it right. I mean you can’t argue with stuff like Tony Clarke’s ‘Landslide’, The Carstairs’ ‘It Really Hurt Me Girl’ and Frank Wilson’s ‘Do I Love You’ … all bona fide classics. Good too to see some fabulous real soul in the mix from people like The Dells (‘It’s All Up To You’), Gladys Knight and the Pips (‘No One Could Love You More’), The Impressions (‘Can’t Satisfy’) and the Originals (‘Suspicion’). Personally I’ve never rated R. Dean Taylor’s ‘There’s A Ghost In My House’, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ ‘The Night’ or the Flirtations’ ‘Nothing But A Heartache’ – but in the context of this album they’re bob on. Great too to have a few comparative rarities – notably Dusty Springfield’s ‘Live It Up’ and Mill Evans’ ‘Why, Why, Why’. Great stuff! My beef is with the pathetic sleeve notes from Paolo Hewitt. They’re bland to the point of uselessness. They contain no artist biography or recording details and simply mildly enthuse about the music. Witness the blurb that goes with Earl Jackson’s ‘Soul Self Satisfaction’… “One of the Northern scene’s biggest records; the title says it all”… wow! Pulitzer prize here we come. Great music deserves better – and my four out of five rating is for the music alone.

(BB) 4/5