Recognized for his work as the tour DJ and unofficial (sometimes) co-producer for Portishead, DJ Andy Smith solidified his reputation further by releasing The Document I and II, mixes that skillfully blended classic tracks from the likes of Grandmaster Flash, Peggy Lee, Jungle Brothers, Marvin Gaye and Patti Drew among others. With the third installment of the series set for release this month on Discotheque (a Sanctuary Records label), Andy Smith intended this Northern Soul mix to be a side project. Well, it may be the best side project I’ve ever heard! Spanning 26 tracks and lasting about an hour, this mix contains some of the funkiest/most soulfulest/dopest music around. I’ve been listening to this so much over the past week that tunes like Talking About My Baby, That’s Enough and I Can’t Believe What You Say resonate continuously in my brain. Now, some of you may be asking, “What is Northern Soul anyway?” Well, here you are.

[Northern Soul] was born out of small US labels who back in the 60s wanted a piece of Motown/Stax’s success albeit on a somewhat tighter budget. These smaller labels would record local artists onto a usually limited run of 7″ 45s hoping that the radio stations would play some of their tracks and have a hit. These tracks were, in a lot of cases as good, if not better than what was coming from the big labels. Unfortunately, as these labels didn’t have the power that the the big labels had the records would not usually sell too well and would end up being left in the record stores.

Many of these records ended up in the UK due to exporters shipping these ‘unknown non hits that nobody in the US wanted’. Clubs in the UK at this time were starting to play US R&B records (if they had been released on a UK label). Then, as these US-released records started to come through, the scene exploded (primarily in the North of England), hence the term ‘Northern Soul’ as coined by Dave Godin (RIP). The ‘Northern Soul’ tag was used to differentiate the somewhat grittier soul sounds that the Northern football supporters would come into his London shop to buy.


The only drawback to this release, for me anyway, is its limited distribution. Put out on ACE/BGP Records, it seems Dusty Groove in Chicago is the only place to buy it in the US. However, in the UK, there are more options including buying it straight from Andy Smith himself. Send him a message

Dottie And Millie – Talking About My Baby
Roscoe Robinson – That’s Enough
Ike and Tina Turner – Can’t Believe What You Say