One of the great things about djing “oldies” music sets is being able to dig out obscure gems like this, a 1968 non-hit for the girl group The Flirtations, that has gone on to be regarded as one of the touchstone records of the Northern Soul movement.
Northern Soul is/was a revival of obscure and forgotten 60s soul music that happened in the North of England in the mid-1970s. What sets Northern Soul apart from other kinds of soul (Southern Soul anyone?!) is the dance-ability of the tracks, which are usually up tempo and with prominent drums (expect lots hand clapping, which the audience can partake in.) All night dancing was the major motivation behind Northern Soul, and key to the success of renowned clubs like the Blackpool Mecca and the Twisted Wheel in Manchester.
The Flirtations were three women from South Carolina who moved to the UK in the late 60s to record for the Deram label. Unfortunately, none of their records were major hits, even though history has looked on some of them very kindly indeed. Like many from the Northern Soul scene, they moved into making Hi-NRG in the early 80s, cementing the connection between the Northern Soul dance floor of the 70s and the burgeoning gay scene of the next decade. “Nothing But A Heartache” is perhaps their “signature” tune, and is crying out for use in a Quentin Tarantino or Spike Lee film. It simply oozes DRAMA.
I never knew this video existed until very recently, and it’s a beauty. SImple and elegant, and set in a ruined abbey, be prepared for multiple replays of this wonderful track: