Motown’s Northern Soul

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R. Dean Taylor photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

40 years ago this week, early in June 1974, Motown’s Canadian artist R. Dean Taylor was starting an entire month of sitting pretty in the top five of the UK singles chart with a timely reissue of his 1967 single for the company’s V.I.P. subsidiary, ‘There’s A Ghost In My House.’

Taylor co-wrote the single with Motown songwriting titans Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, with whom he’d often collaborated but rarely been credited before. When it came out, Ontario-born Taylor was enjoying success as the co-writer of another Tamla hit in the US, the Temptations’ ‘All I Need,’ but that didn’t help his own single much (more)

Taylor’s first hit of his own came in 1968 with ‘Gotta See Jane,’ and he had more songwriting success later that year as the co-writer of the Supremes’ socially-conscious single ‘Love Child.’ He hit paydirt again himself with 1970’s memorable ‘Indiana Wants Me.’

Little did he know that, after ‘Ghost’ was included on a ‘Motown Memories’ compilation in 1968, England’s northern soul clubs started the process of making the track into an anthem of their own. That prompted the Motown reissue of 1974 and a smash hit single, seven years late.

To mark the anniversary, R. Dean leads off our selection of Northern Soul stompers that all originated on Motown, including tracks by legends such as Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight as well as Tamla backing singers the Andantes in a rare moment of top billing, and more great vocal performances from the likes of Kim Weston, Brenda Holloway and Tammi Terrell. Plus another fabulous “white soul” track made into a smash by the northern clubs, the Four Seasons’ sublime single for Motown’s Rare Earth label, ‘The Night.’

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