A couple of years ago I was asked by a client if I knew anything about Northern Soul.
It was a question which I took a lot of pleasure in answering because, although I am not a Northern Soul expert, soul music has been a part of my life since the school discos back in Sheffield in the 70’s.
Northern Soul and Tamla Motown was always the music which got the girls on the dance floor dancing in a big long lines doing moves in unison. It was the music that got the hard lads performing acrobatic spins and gymnastics whilst the rest of us stood watching. Whilst I liked rock and punk, 60’s bands like The Beach Boys and The Beatles and even AOR music (ELO and Queen were not guilty pleasures back then…. they were just bands who had hit records) Motown and Northern Soul music reserved a special place in my heart.
A few years after I left school I read about Dave Godin who was the guy who had coined the phrase “Northern Soul.” He’d noticed whilst running Soul City records in London that southern soul fans were into the funkier end of the spectrum whilst his customers with northern accents asked about the music of Motown and the myriad of labels which sprung up imitating the Motown sound. He’d place these records in a box and when a Northerner walked into the shop he’d say “bring out the Northern Soul!”
I got the chance to meet Dave Godin when he arrived in Sheffield to run the Anvil cinema. After attending one of his lectures about Soul music (I remember him playing Pass The Hatchet by Roger And The Gypsies and a record by Bird Legs and Pauline….records which sounded thrillingly different to the music which was in the charts) I interviewed Dave for the college magazine. This led to me being invited over to his house where I stood astonished by a room full of rare soul records (and I mean full….the whole of the floor space was covered in singles and albums.)
I spent a couple of very happy evenings being regaled by stories of the great soul names which Dave had met over the years. Dave Godin had been a leading contributor to Blue And Soul Magazine and had interviewed practically everyone from white soul acts like Hall and Oates and Tim Buckley through to soul royalty like James Brown and Diana Ross. In the early 60’s Dave Godin had been invited by Berry Gordy to travel to Detroit in order to help Motown (there were several labels owned by Berry Gordy all producing records which we now recognise as Motown records….Anna Records, Tamla, Motown and Gordy were some of the emergent labels at the time) launch in the UK.
As President Of The UK Tamla Motown Appreciation Society Dave Godin established the principle that Motown records should be marketed in the UK under one umbrella ,“Tamla Motown, ” and he was instrumental in breaking the first Motown records over here in the UK.
As Dave explained this to me he disappeared into another room and came back with a seven inch single. The single was in a plain white sleeve and had, obviously, never been played. Generously he passed it to me and said “You might need some money some time hang on to this it will be worth a couple of quid.”
The record was a welcome disc made by all the major Motown acts for Dave Godin and the UK Motown Appreciation Society. Over a Motown back beat legendary Soul singers like The Supremes, Smokey Robinson And The Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas , Marvin Gaye etc etc say hi to Dave Godin and thank the Motown Appreciation society back in the UK.
It’s a record that was so rare for a while I have had more than a few Motown fans deny it exists. I am not sure how many were printed (I seem to remember Dave saying a hundred but I might be wrong.) Anyway my copy has been played once and is a much treasured memory of Dave Godin who ,sadly , passed away a few years ago.
The single recently turned up as a bonus track on one of the Motown Out Of The Vaults CD releases but for years it had remained firmly underground. A special disc for those in the know.
If you have even a passing interest in soul music you should buy the Dave Godin Deep Soul Treasures CD’s on Kent Records .They contain some of the best soul ballads ever recorded and the liner notes , written by Dave , are simply superb.
Dave Godin was one of the most interesting people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. A great raconteur who could talk about almost any subject. A strict vegan who was a great advocate for animal rights. He was also ,at the time when I briefly knew him, an atheist who could give you a million and one reasons why God didn’t exist and a deep political theorist who would have a dozen theories about why the world was going down the toilet. All this from the man who introduced Mick Jagger to blues music and had an early role in the formation of the Rolling Stones. How could you not feel privileged to have met him (by the way if Dave had read this, although I would guess he might be pleased to know that he had a lasting impression on me , he would have also said “Oh Rick you’re such a bullshitter!)
I would say that the best compliment that anyone ever payed me back in the days when I was an aspiring singer was when Dave Godin said I could sing a ballad well. You can live a life on that.
For the function , mentioned at the start of this post , LMM supplied some Northern Soul style dancers in baggys and tight tops.Whilst two great singers ran through a set of Northern Soul Stompers the dancers did spins and acrobatics. It worked a treat!
LMM have a number of great bands who specialise in playing covers of Motown and Soul music you will find them on www.lmmuk.com In the funk soul section or by following the links below. You can also call 08454 900515 for instant help and advise or email either myself or one of the sales team on firstname.lastname@example.org
Soul Club http://www.lmmuk.com/band/Soul+Club+
The Tamla Motown Sound http://www.lmmuk.com/band/The+Tamla+Motown+Sound
Motown Express http://www.lmmuk.com/band/The+Tamla+Motown+Sound
Atlantic Soul Mission http://www.lmmuk.com/band/Atlantic+Soul+Mission