Afternoon Listening: Northern Soul Edition

A Detroiter gives you a peek at her favorite Northern Soul sides.

Yes, that’s right I am in fact from Detroit, Michigan. When I tell people where I’m from and that I love, love, love Northern Soul they usually think I grew up on the stuff. I hate to burst your bubble, but this is not the case. Although I did grow up fully immersed in the Northern Soul music culture (hello, Motown), oddly enough I didn’t get in to soul until I moved to Kansas. How did I stumble back in to the genre? Well, it had to do with a boy, of course. Isn’t that how these things always work? Although it didn’t work out with said boy, I did keep his fantastic taste in music (Thanks, B).

Before I share my favorite Northern Soul sides, I should probably explain to you what exactly Northern Soul is. The simplest definition I can give you is: American soul music (from major Northern cities ie. Chicago, Detroit, Phily), that gained popularity in Northern England. Northern England? Think Mod Culture, which adopted Motown music as it’s soundtrack. Northern Soul is also characterized by a heavy beat and fast tempo which make it fun to dance to. If you don’t like my definition, feel free to browse the inter-webs for your own; there are hundreds of websites devoted to keeping the Northern Soul legacy alive. Sadly, many Northern Soul groups get overlooked if they weren’t on the Motown Records label. Thankfully we have resources like YouTube to keep these fantastic songs around.

My favorite part about Northern Soul is the raw emotion that you can hear in every song. These songs speak to me; especially the one’s by girl groups.

Now for the good stuff! Here are some of my favorite Northern soul sides. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. If there are particular tracks you think I’ve missed feel free to share them in the comments!

The Jades- I’m Where It’s At (1966).


The Marvellets- Too Many Fish in the Sea (1964). *This is actually a mix with the original backing track!


Yum Yums- Gonna Be a Big Thing (1964). 

This is probably my favorite soul side of ALL TIME! Fun fact: Yum Yums also went by the name Honey and the Bees for a short time. The Sapphires also did a more up-tempo version of this song, but I still like this version better.


The Velvettes- A Love So Deep Inside

These ladies could have been bigger than the Supremes if they had been signed to Motown.


The Toys- Lovers Concerto (1965)

You’ve probably heard this one. Regardless if it’s rare or not, I still love it.


The Nite-Liters-K Jee (1971)

The perfect end to a soul compilation, funk music!


by amanda barnes 


KJHK 90.7 FM