I’m NOT a Soul music expert. I really like this music so much so i found this information in order to contribute :).
I love Soul and I feel like I could spend a lifetime learning about it.
So i think that as you become more knowledgeable, your taste evolves and matures. You discover new artists and different styles that you weren’t aware existed.
The Motown sound:
The famous Detroit label was for many our introduction to Soul music. Why? It has always been popular and accessible. The prolific songwriting and production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland came up with a recipe for writing polished pop masterpieces one after the other. The founder, Berry Gordy Jr., had a style that was often associated with a Detroit automobile factory assembly line. The acts were polished and manufactured following strict guidelines. How do you recognize the sound? There’s tambourines, chains, hand clapping, a melodic horn section in a very structured song. There’s not a lot of improvisation like you would find in a more southern, gritty Louisiana sound like Stax.
Southern Soul or the Stax sound:
Much more raw and dirty then the clean melodies of Detroit rival Motown; it has a strong RnB, gospel and blues influence. Coming from the backstreets of Memphis and New Orleans where jazz, country and early Rock and Roll all saw the light of day, these styles helped shape the sound. Stax house band Booker T. & the M.G.'s were instrumental in molding the style and supported such Soul legends as Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave and Rufus Thomas.
A sometimes overused (mea culpa) and catch all category, the term “Northern Soul” is said to have been coined by British record shop owner/ turned musical journalist, Dave Godin. He used the name to describe the type of Soul clients from Northern England would prefer when compared to London’s taste. It was popularised in such clubs as the Blackpool Mecca, the Twisted Wheel, the Golden Torch and the Wigan Casino. For most, Northern Soul is simply non-commercial (i.e. rare) 60s soul that was recorded by unknown artists on very small record labels. DJs would also play the undiscovered and often neglected B-sides of certain records giving them a new life. The Northern Soul scene was a natural extension of the Mod scene but quickly became, in the early 70s, its own bona fide scene with its own dance style and fashion.
When I think of Northern Soul, I hear an up-tempo track with a driving beat that will compel you to spin, do the splits and give karate kicks to imaginary enemies.
When you think of Funk, James Brown comes immediately to mind. The bass is the instrument that takes centre stage and is what drives the groove. The drum beat also has its own distinctive sound. The singer will often passionately scream out the lyrics and will punctuate the song with a bunch of “Uh!”, “Ha!” and “Yeah!” You don’t dance to funk like you do to Soul, you swagger.
Instead of going for the obvious, like James Brown's Get On Up, let's instead Get Down with Harvey Scales & The 7 Sounds who cites JB as a major influence for his funk sound. I've been enjoying spinning this track lately.
As the name indicates, it’s the domain of the white Soul singers. Only a few ever came close to their Black American counterparts but the ones that did, where embraced by legions of Mods. An obvious example and a personal favorite would be UK great Georgie Fame. Another that had a few lesser known, very Northern Soul sounding tracks was none other than Welsh singer Tom Jones.
Doo-Wop is more of an early influence then an actual genre of Soul. Prevalent in the 50s, it was characterized by vocal group harmonies . Soul greats like The Temptations, The Four Tops and The Miracles clearly diped in the Doo-Wop pool.
: ) thanks to Patrick Foisy for the support