I like northern soul, but beyond the obvious tracks and 3 or 4 ropey compilations in my collection, I find it a bit of a minefield. I’m certainly no expert on the subject – I’ll make that clear right now. I don’t know about art, but I know what I like and all that. I was digging through some of those ropey compilations the other day, looking for ‘new’ stuff to play in the car and I came across these two tracks of dynamite.
First up, Madeline Bell‘s ‘Picture Me Gone’. A quick bit of googlewiki (copyright Plain Or Pan?) tells me that Madeline Bell was born in America but came to the UK in the mid 60’s to make her way in the music business. Singing back-up to Dusty Springfield and, later, on early recordings by Elton John and Donna Summer no doubt paved the way. And meeting and recording a track with a pre-Led Zeppelin John Paul Jones (1968’s ‘What Am I Supposed To Do?’) wouldn’t have done her any harm. But it’s ‘Picture Me Gone’ that she’s most well known and loved for in northern soul circles.
Picture Me Gone sounds a lot like Dusty in places, which is no bad thing. Plenty of horns, clipped guitar, sweeping strings and the odd key change, it’s northern soul personified for part-time northern soulers like myself.
Also northern soul personified is Mary Love‘s ‘Lay This Burden Down’. A soul/gospel Christian evangelist, Mary Love was discovered in the mid 60’s by Sam Cooke’s manager who pointed her in the direction of Modern Records, where she started recording. These records became a big hit on the northern soul scene. I need to investigate them because if they are half as good as this track I’ll be finger-poppin all the way to the Wigan Casino. Is it still open?
(I know it’s closed). As you can see from the poster below, Mary Love still tours to this day. I need to get out more. I think I’m missing out on a whole subculture of music. If any experts out there would like to make me a decent northern soul compilation, feel free to get your CD Writer out and keep on burnin’! (ouch)