Here’s a great little vintage soul set being peddled under the Northern soul banner. ‘Dancing By Myself’ has a strap line that proclaims “Lost In Northern Soul” and though that’s a convenient tag and a possible marketing strategy, it doesn’t really do justice to the music. The generous 26 tracker has obvious links to Northern soul, but most of these tunes have never been played on the circuit, while many lack the required 100mph beats that the Northern brethren crave.
That said what we have here is an exquisite collection of (mainly) rare soul from a range of indie labels featuring artists that are not that well known. Best known items here are the late Bobby Parker’s riff-heavy ‘Watch Your Step’…. the tune that helped launch an armada of beat groups in the early 60s and ‘Watusi’ from the Vibrations. Soul connoisseurs will be familiar with names like The Five Royales, Joe Stubbs, Eskew Reeder, Billy Bland and the incomparable Lou Johnson, whose offering is the immaculate Bacharach/David song ‘If I Never Get To Love You’
My guess is that only the most anorkay of anoraks will have heard of people like Sue Perrin, Justin Jones, Billy Gales and Johnny Appalachian, but their offerings are every bit as valid as those from the bigger names. Of particular note are Don and Juan’s ‘What I Really Meant To Say’ (based on ‘Any Day Now’), Sylvia Hill’s ‘No More Heart (a straight steal from ‘Stand By Me’) and blues man Buddy Ace who contributes an atmospheric and soulful ‘This Little Love Of Mine’.
The key to the compilation is the dating. All the cuts come from the pre-1963 era, so all the stuff is out of copyright and royalties aren’t required. The loss to the labels, the artists and writers (where still alive) is the soul collectors’ gain.