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Today’s SotW is a Northern Soul classic. When most people hear the term “Northern Soul” they assume it means American soul music that came from acts based in the northern United States instead of from Memphis or Muscle Shoals. In actuality the term refers to a style of American soul music popularized in dance clubs in Northern England. Part of the Northern Soul music culture is to avoid the popular hits in favor of obscure singles often recorded for small, local, independent labels.
Frank Wilson’s single for Motown’s Soul subsidiary in 1965 fits the bill. “Do I Love You (Yes Indeed)” was recorded just before he became one of Motown’s important producers. The story goes that only about 250 copies of a demo 45 were pressed and then later destroyed when Berry Gordy decided it wasn’t worth the effort to promote an act that was planning to focus on a production career, not to become a performing talent.
But a few copies survived, making it a very valuable disc. (One of the few copies known to exist sold in England for over £25,000 in May 2009.) Now, thanks to the magic of digital recordings and the affordable cost of free, you can hear it too!
But its rarity alone doesn’t make it valuable. It’s its quality that creates the demand. “Do I Love You” has all the trappings of a Northern Soul classic – a crisp rhythm, solid beat with evocative lyrics sung from the heart. It’s a song that’s sure to fill the dance floor.
Surprisingly, the backing music wasn’t played by the Funk Brothers – Motown’s house band. No, this song was recorded in LA using Wrecking Crew musicians – Billy Strange, Glen Campbell, Hal Blaine, Al De Lory, Carol Kaye and Tommy Tedesco.
If you’re intrigued by this backstory and would like to learn more about it, check out this long form article that was originally written to support the auction that resulted in the 2009 sale mentioned above:
Although this song languished in obscurity until the late 70s/early 80s, Wilson did enjoy a successful career as a producer and songwriter. In fact, he received a co-writing credit for his production of Brenda Holloway’s recording of “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” which was covered by Blood, Sweat & Tears and hit #2 in 1969.
Enjoy… until next week.