Northern Soul: the industrial towns of Northern England grooving their way into an escape tunnel from the humdrum of daily life can’t be summed up by a single record or any album compilation calling itself the ‘essential’ collection. I’m not got to try, either.
The mere phrase ‘60’s R&B’ tends to get my musical spidey-sense tingling. The first few bars of frantic drumming and funky guitars gets my feet tapping. One of the only records that gets me up and dancing these days is ‘The Snake’ by Al Wilson. It reminds me of a time when my dad used to dance around the kitchen to his Little Walter LP’s — he took ‘dad dancing’ to a whole new level. The shimmy, the shuffle, two steps to the left and turn around and start again taught me all I needed to know about dancefloor moves: save them for the kitchen. Never leave the house with them. Don’t show anyone but your nearest and dearest.
So excuse me while I grab my daughter by the hand and whisk her off to the middle of the floor at the Wigan Casino, circa 1975. I can’t claim I was there then, but right now, Al Wilson transports me to another place, another time: ‘take me in, for heaven’s sake’.
(Song recommendation by Lee D Thompson)