There have been a number of feature films with a Northern soul theme but none have truly captured the atmosphere, spirit and energy of the scene. I can’t comment on the up-coming Elaine Constantine-directed Northern Soul movie (not seen it yet!) but if the soundtrack’s anything to go by the film promises to be a good ‘un.
Harmless Records have just issued the official soundtrack and it really does offer a wonderful musical overview of a much maligned scene. There are plenty of “big” Northern sounds here…. stuff like Billy Butler’s ‘Right Track’, Edwin Starr’s ‘Backstreet’, Towanda Barnes’ ‘You Don’t Mean It’ and Tobi Legend’s Wigan anthem, ‘Time Will Pass You By’. Being a proper Northern album there has to be rarities and there’s none rarer than Sam Dees’ ‘Lonely For You Baby’. Released on SSS, this was Sam’s first single and the throbbing beater’s a world away from the melancholy ballads for which Sam became famous, but it’s no less soulful. You also get, at last, a chance to enjoy James Fountain’s ‘Seven Day Lover’ – out of print for a long time – along with great tunes from people like Marvin Gaye, Shirley Ellis, the Originals, Williams and Watson and Lou Pride. All these great memory jerkers inhabit the albums first CD… the “official movie soundtrack”.
The pack’s second CD offers 27 cuts, handpicked by Ms Constantine to perfectly complement the tunes on disc 1. Here you can enjoy stuff like Dena Barnes’ ‘If You Ever Walked Out Of My Life’, The Carstairs’ ‘It Really Hurt Me Girl’, The Montclairs’ ‘Hung Up On Your Love’, Melba Moore’s The Magic Touch’, Bob Relf’s ‘Blowing My Mind To Pieces’ and Mel Britt’s ‘She’ll Come Running Back’. Those names alone should tell you the director knows her stuff and wisely she’s steered well clear of cod Northern soul (no Wigan’s Ovation here!) and trite pop tunes that masqueraded as soul. She does though feature the Four Seasons’ ‘The Night’ and yes, there are some soul folk who aren’t convinced by this one but in the context of the movie, I’ll let this one pass.
There’s also a DVD in the package featuring an interview with Ms Constantine. For those quirky people who like this new fangled stuff called vinyl the sound track also comes in a package that has 14 seven inch singles. This is housed in a lovely collector’s box; but whatever you opt for you can be sure you’re getting top quality (and properly licensed) Northern soul – with the emphasis on SOUL.