Ignorance is Bliss (and a Square of Lino)

There’s one sort of music that I absolutely love, and have amassed quite a collection of tracks (not originals, I’m afraid, almost exclusively on mp3s) but about which I know next to nothing. Because of my own perceived ignorance, I rarely post anything from that particular genre. (“When’s that ever stopped you before?”, I hear you all chorus.)

I speak, of course, of Northern Soul.

In August last year, Simon Price wrote a piece on the movement in one of The Guardian’s Ten of the Best series, and he summed up the appeal pretty well I think:

“One of the many beauties of northern soul is its sheer unknowability. It’s a scene that has always thrived on the rare, the obscure and the undiscovered. Since it first emerged in the dancehalls of northern England in the late 60s, it has existed in direct opposition to the very concept of greatest hits…[it] is a culture based on chance finds, crate-digging and word-of-mouth recommendations.”

At which point, I realised that it didn’t matter that I know sod all about the people who made the records, what matters is that I share the ones that I have found with you.

So I shall. Many of these have come into my possession via some of my blogging peers, so I’ll try to steer clear of posting any of those.

Of course, I’ll also try to find out something about the artist in question, but I imagine that most of the time I’ll draw a blank.

Take today’s record, for example, by Robby Lawson. Bar a couple of (very brief) discographies, I can find no information at all about him. I did learn that there is a New Zealand cricketer called Robert Lawson who was born in 1974, but given today’s record seems (from the picture below) to have come out in 1967,  we can eliminate him from our enquiries.

There was also, the internet tells me, a character in soap opera Emmerdale called Robert Lawson, but since he first appeared around 2012 and is a fictional character, we can safely ignore him too.

So here’s the record, and in case you’re unclear what Northern Soul records typically sound like, more often than not they sound a lot like this:


Robby Lawson – Burning Sensation

Which reminds me, must book myself a GP appointment….

More soon.

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14 thoughts on “Ignorance is Bliss (and a Square of Lino)”

  1. A bizarre phenomenon Northern Soul and I really only started to find out more about it after watching the film Northern Soul last year. Explained how a lot of ’60s near misses became hits in the early ’70s however which is how I ended up knowing about Frankie Valli’s The Night et al.

    Can’t shed any more light on Robby Lawson but maybe that’s the appeal of NS. It’s a bit like when you bought a new album back in the day but soon got fed up of the “hits” as they became over-familiar. The tracks that became your favourites were always the lesser known ones, sometimes included as an afterthought!

    1. The film ‘Northern Soul’? I love this music and, as many of you have mentioned, find the source on the genre Across the Kitchen Table. But I ain’t never heard of no film. Going to have to see if that’s accessible over here.

      1. It was on Netflix (UK, anyway) for a while, so you may find it there. I would imagine a man of your intellect and resourcefulness will be able to track it down though. It doesn’t exactly have the most challenging of plots, but that doesn’t really matter as there’s lots of really great tunes.

    2. I think you’re right, for me (and this is what I’ve come to realise) it’s the fact that I know nothing about the artists that is part of the appeal. That and the fantastic records, of course.

    1. Yeh, he’s been my fountain of knowledge on NS for years (will give credit when I next do one of these) and trying to find stuff I didn’t get from him is really tricky!

  2. I’m the same as you Jez. I invariably dig what Northern Soul I get to hear (usually via chums like Drew & Marie), but know very little about the scene or performers. This tune’s another good ‘un.

  3. Great tune Jez. All I know about it ithat isn’t written on the label is an orignal will cost you a pretty penny, it has been repressed and was also available. Paul Kyser who wrote the song was also responsible for I Still Love You by The Superlatives which is equally as good.

    If you want to invest in a couple of books on the scene, you could do worse than Stuart Cosgrove’s Young Soul Rebels and Dave Nowell’s Too Darn Soulful. I myself would be lost without Kev Robert’s Northern Soul Top 500.

    1. Might well do that, and my apols: when I mentioned “my peers” in this post, I meant you. Next time my ipod nudges me in the direction of one I’ve not heard before and I end up posting, due credit will be given!

  4. No apologies needed. That wasn’t one that I had posted anyway. I am no great authority on northern, I know very little compared to the serious soulies that live and breathe this music.

  5. I posted this one myself a few months ago, as I’m a huge Northern Soul fan! It’s a great one that I first heard via my boss’s original 45.

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