The crisp beat of a snare drum, a pulsing bass, the staccato stab of a guitar, a horn section punctuating every line, strings that zing and a soaring voice laying down what it means to have loved and lost.
Mix that all together and you get something near to northern soul, a music that inspires a dedication and devotion that rivals the fervour of any religious acolyte.
In his book Young Soul Rebels, Stuart Cosgrove, touches on all of this and more as he takes us on a personal journey through northern soul.
The author takes you on a trip from his childhood in Perth to Wigan Casino, London, Washington DC, Blackpool and then back to Perth for a reunion of the Perth City Soul Club.
At the same time he touches on some of the key events that shaped Britain in the 1980’s; the miners strike, the economic policies of the Thatcher government and the industrial decline of the north and south.
As well as his love of the music, the friendships that he makes are a key part of the story and provide an element of humour and tragedy to the story. The sections where he describes the air of menace and fear that existed when the Yorkshire Ripper was at large are especially powerful.
What shines through time and again is Cosgrove’s love of this music and why it still remains important to him today.
Helpfully, throughout the book he refers to the key records that influenced him and the northern soul movement. This acts as a handy reference for those wanting to explore this life affirming music in more depth.
I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone that has an interest in northern soul.
But I would also recommend this to anyone who wants to learn about how music can become obsessive and inspire devotion in its listeners.
Kevin Rowland once wrote that he was searching for the young soul rebels, well in this book you can find them!