Northern Soul was, and is, a club phenomenon in the UK. In the early days (during the 60s and ’70s) DJs sorted through thousands of US R&B records for neglected or forgotten gems which could be ‘stompers’. To this day there are many R&B songs much better known in the UK than in their US home. The ‘Northern’ part generally relates to venues in English Northern cities, but there were also some great events in Scotland, the North of Britain. Scottish band Texas’ latest greatest hits album contains a new version of Northern Soul classic “Keep On Talking,” a song about the joys of being seduced. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Spencer Oldham, who wrote the song with Dan Penn, produces.
The tempo of a Northern Soul song is vital. Almost always high and above 100BPM (beats per minute), many found that the optimal for filling the floor was between 120 and 130BPM. Thus, varying the speed on a Northern Soul cover is not always the best route to success. Fortunately, this version is rated 130BPM, exactly the same as the (more celebrated) James Barnett version and Arthur Conley cut.
Fantastic on the dancefloor as they were, the production values on some of the ’60s records were limited by budget. Here Oldham’s production is warm and generous, accommodating strings and the band’s mix, along with appropriate backing. Sharleen Spiteri, founder (with James McElhone) and frontperson for the band, adds a twang to her velvet contralto. The overall effect is warm and energizing, like a sweaty all-night club, or a Southern summer. The listener is the one that is subject to seduction, once the dancing is over.