Various Once Upon a Time in Wigan – Volume 2

There are plenty of excellent Northern soul compilations floating out there already, so coming up with a new package is a tough challenge. However, this collection of tracks used in the recent British play of the same name scores a direct hit. It would have to. The legendary Wigan Casino near Manchester, England was the epicentre of the Northern soul scene during 1973 to 1981, and drew thousands of fancy-footed folks from around the country every Saturday, as well as making stars of the DJs who played beautiful soul music that you wouldn’t necessarily find on the Billboard charts. Like the all-night parties it is based on, this CD is a magnificent collection of little-known soul anthems that have all the hooks and passion of anything released by Motown. The only way to avoid tapping your feet to tracks like Sam Ward’s "Sister Lee” or "Nothing Compares to You” by Velvet Satins would be to have them nailed down. This 20-track collection is packed with gems as simple as the instrumental "Bari Track” by Doni Burdick, or as musically forward as "Hung Up On Your Love” by the Montclairs, which brings in elements of ’70s funk. With the odd few exceptions, thematically this is a solid throwback to classic ’60s soul, and there are no real weaknesses in the album’s armour. Anyone who has even a remote interest in soul will find it hard to get this CD out of your stereo. This is a wonderful collection. (BBE)