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