Various Artists - Talcum Soul 5 (Stateside EMI)

Talcum Soul 5 is the fifth volume, from EMI through their Stateside Subsidiary, of the soul that is branded Northern. In case you didn't know, Northern Soul dancers used to take talcum powder in order to get a better grip on the wooden dance floors. As with many other Northern Soul compilations, the twenty six tracks on offer here for less than £10 would cost considerably more if were so inclined as to try and obtain them in their original vinyl format.

The  26 tracks range from the sublime to the, well maybe not ridiculous, but one or two basic meat and potatoes items are included. In the sublime category is Homer Banks "Hooked By Love". Banks never achieved great commercial success with the very few records he had issued, but they laid the foundation for Northern Soul due to their popularity in the 60s soul clubs. Also amongst the best on offer is the O'Jays (remember Kylie telling you to remember them) "No Time For You". Another veteran group The Persuasions (who incidentally have just issued an album of acapella U2 songs) kick the CD off with the good time "Party In The Woods". Carole Fran follows that with the  funkily bluesy "Roll With The Punches".

The Vontasties supply a bit of sweet sounding soul in the falsetto led "Lady Love". Willie Hightower has recently had recognition due to his recording being issued on a "Honest Jons" CD. His Sam Cooke influenced voice sings the swinging "Because I Love You" produced by Richard Gotteher later to find fame as the producer of Blondie and Seymour Stein who was to later found the Sire Label, home of New York punk.

Those who think that Northern Soul should not stray from the out and out stompers are catered for by the inclusion of Bobby Hill's "To The Bitter End", The Thrills (no connection to that Irish group) "What Can Go Wrong?".

The meat and potato items referred to earlier come in the form of the UK recorded "Stop And You'll Become Aware" by pre Beatles star Helen Shapiro and Bobby Goldboros "Too Many People". Controversy is to be found on the Northern scene about the playing of "white pop records" that have the northern beat, but this reviewer is one of those people who think soul should be defined by the quality of the vocals and not the tempo of the tune.

Overall though, a good compilation and if you like this you can go and buy the previous four volumes

Derek McCann

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