“Life’s Lottery” and Northern Soul

19 01 2011

Yesterday, I spent most of the evening reading “Life’s Lottery”, by Kim Newman, a choose-your-own-adventure type of novel. It was so engrossing and thought-provoking that it kept me awake half of the night pondering my own life choices. I felt especially sorry for the version of the lead character who wound up never getting a job, living his whole life with his mother, and spending his evenings deciding whether to fantasize about a female character in Star Trek or a female character in Doctor Who.

The day before yesterday, I spent much of the evening listening to songs that were part of the British Northern Soul movement. These were usually songs by obscure Motown or Motown-like artists from the 1960s. I am fascinated by the whole idea of Northern Soul, but found that, because I am not from that part of the world, the songs didn’t really have much meaning for me – I’m more of a New Wave or garage rock person.

The heartfelt comments on the YouTube videos of the songs touched me, though – clearly, they bring back wonderful memories for a lot of people. (What they remind me of is soundtracks for British indie films of the 1980s. Which is pretty cool.)

One song that was considered a Northern Soul classic was one I hadn’t heard in years – Al Wilson’s “The Snake”:

This is fun to listen to – his voice reminds me of a James Bond soundtrack somehow.

Here’s another song that I discovered is sometimes associated with Northern Soul – Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher” – which happens to be one of my all-time favourites. It also appeared in a Ghostbusters movie (I forget which one).

It is impossible not to be cheered up, at least a bit, by this song!

Trivia note: I recall reading somewhere that Motown’s studio musicians, the Funk Brothers, did a bit of moonlighting by playing on this session (and Wikipedia confirms it). Anything that the Funk Brothers play on is usually pretty great. (And if you haven’t seen “Standing In The Shadows Of Motown” yet, you simply have to. So there.)

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