Various Artists SoulBoy Review

Soundtrack. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

A crashing wave of joy and euphoria overwhelms the listener.

David Quantick 2010

Relatively unknown for many years, and with its defining venues (the Wigan Casino, the Twisted Wheel) now faded into historical footnotes, Northern Soul has always seemed ripe for a movie treatment. Featuring pilled-up Wigan lads and lasses dancing in massive flares to incredibly obscure soul singles, SoulBoy seeks to do for Northern Soul what Quadrophenia did for mod. And its greatest weapon is this soundtrack.

Two CDs of brilliant music – although, as one is labeled as the main character’s "mix tape", you fear for the film’s authenticity – this release will do more than any movie to popularise a genre so deliberately anti-commercial that DJs would steam the labels off their own rare, prized records to stop rivals from copying their sets. Still, it worked for mod, a movement whose music was almost as infectious, but riddled with a far more pernicious snobbery.

Some songs here will be familiar, like Dobie Gray’s The In Crowd and Gloria Jones’ original recording of Tainted Love, but most will be new to millions – which, considering there are nearly 50 tracks here, is really saying something. But knowledge here is irrelevant. Almost every song here follows the Motown dictum unrolled on The Supremes’ Baby Love – if you add a crashing, regular beat to every second of the song, everyone will be able to dance to it. Best of all, in songs like The Tams’ Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy – adverts once more bulldoze our cherished memories – and The Spinners’ What More Could a Boy Ask For, there’s a crashing wave of joy and euphoria that overwhelms the listener.

If by chance you choose these two CDs as the music for your next party, be warned – your guests may be unable to stop dancing and take themselves over the hills and far away to this unique, no-longer-obscure stomping music.

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