Mastermix, Playlists, Soul & Motown

Northern Soul DJ Playlists

Award winning Wedding DJ and Mastermix Ambassador, Alan Marshall, delves into the Northern Soul genre and some alternative DJ playlists.

When it comes to Northern Soul music it can sometimes be a bit of a minefield to know what to play. Just ask in a DJ forum for suggestions as a colleague of mine did recently to discover the mixed views of what constitutes a Northern Soul track.

Before I get into the reason, let me bring you up to speed for those that maybe don’t know what Northern Soul music is and its origins.

Northern Soul Origins

Northern Soul music emerged from the North of England and the Midlands in the late 1960s and connected to the mod scene. It was a style of music that had its origins in black American soul music from the mid-sixties predominately but not exclusively out of Detroit, Michigan, the home of Hitsville USA studios and Motown records.

Introducing Northern Soul Into A DJ Set

That is where the challenge starts. The Motown tracks that became commercial hits were considered a pop record, not a soul record and certainly not northern for the Northern Soul fan. The Northern Soul DJs sought out the rare, previously overlooked records that they would play at clubs such as the Twisted Wheel in Manchester, the Blackpool Mecca and the Wigan Casino.

Now this is always a subject that will divide opinions with the true fans of the genre digging in with staying true to the origins or, better put, “Keeping The Faith.” As a wedding DJ, however, I know if I was requested to play some Northern Soul at a wedding reception, my job is to keep everyone happy on the dancefloor. The use of transition tracks plus a few Northern Soul classics is likely to do that.

Filling The Knowledge Gap

But I hear you; how do I know? Well, yet again, Mastermix has done the heavy lifting for you with Essential Hits – Northern Soul, a new collection that includes enough tracks to satisfy any Northern Soul fans at your wedding and maintain the dancefloor with transition tracks that keep the rest of the guests happy.

Northern Soul Playlists

3 high profile professional DJs share their ‘go-to’ Northern Soul playlists and how they introduce them to an audience.

Alan Marshall – Award-Winning Wedding DJ

head shot of Alan Marshall holding headphones, wedding DJ

“If I was asked to play some Northern Soul at one of my events this would be a good example of my Playlist. Solid selection of tracks including a Motown Transition track into mainstream Northern Soul classics to keep everyone happy”

Set Duration: 20 minutes

  • Elgins – Heaven Must Have Sent You
  • Tams – Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy
  • Jackie Wilson – I Get The Sweetest Feeling
  • Frankie Valli – You’re Ready Now
  • Dobie Gray – Out On The Floor
  • Frankie Valli – The Night
  • Dean Parish – I’m On My Way
  • Jimmy Radcliffe – Long After Tonight Is All Over
  • Frank Wilson – Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)
  • Maxine Nightingale – Right Back Where We Started From

Phil Terry – Professional DJ and Creator of UK Mobile DJ Chart

“I’ve selected 5 huge Northern Soul floorfillers and added my favoured Transition tracks at the start and end”

Set Duration: 15 minutes

  • Chairman Of The Board – Give Me Just A Little More Time
  • Gloria Jones – Tainted Love
  • Al Wilson – The Snake
  • Frank Wilson – Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)
  • Dobie Gray – Out On The Floor
  • R Dean Taylor – There’s A Ghost In My House
  • Billy Ocean – Red Light Spells Danger
  • Trammps – Hold Back The Night

Richard Lee – Professional DJ and Mastermix Label Manager

“As an alternate option for a Northern Soul set, I’ve selected tracks that have a high BPM range and allow you to showcase this style of music perfectly. I personally like to play Northern Soul alongside a Motown set as it always feels like a natural fit. I love the Velvelettes tune (155 bpm) and use it often as my Transition track into Northern Soul. This set gives the Northern Soul enthusiasts a selection of big tracks that they will appreciate you playing and open it up to play some more mainstream hits”

Set Duration: 10 minutes

  • Velvelettes – Needle In A Haystack
  • Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Two Can Have A Party
  • Just Brothers – Sliced Tomatoes
  • Judy Street – What
  • Little Anthony & the Imperials – Better Use Your Head