Review: SOULVATION: the Best of Northern Soul

SOULVATION: the Best of Northern Soul

Street 01.07

SOULVATION is a re-issue of a collection that was originally called “The weird and wonderful world of Northern Soul.” It is an attempt to chronicle the “northern soul” movement, a variety of mid-tempo, heavy-beat soul music popular in northern England in the late 1960s. Many of the bands that rose to prominence in the movement were acts that were having a difficult time doing well in the US. The selection of artists on the DVD is definitely second-tier, and after watching it, the adjective “weird” seems especially apropos. It is impossible to understand why anyone would think this release was a good idea. I imagine the meeting where it was pitched: “Let’s find some completely unknown singers and choose songs that only charted in the UK. We’ll fly ’em out to LA, record them lip-syncing in their hotel rooms and add fake fireworks in the background so it looks like they’re performing outside. We can’t lose!” Umm, yes you can. You can fail quite spectacularly. Why? Because no one wants to see a 60-year-old man jog in place while trying to make his ass shake and his mouth move like they did 30 years ago, especially not fans of soul music. Truly horrific. -James Bennett