Born in Wigan and Manchester clubs in the 1970s, the mod-inspired northern soul scene has found its way to Israel 50 years later, with a Tel Aviv-based band bent on a revival of the genre.
The debut album by Israeli band Men of North Country, released in the UK this week, takes inspiration from the American soul music played in casinos, dancehalls and clubs in Manchester, Blackpool, Wigan and Wolverhampton.
Singer Yashiv Cohen said that although none of the band had any British connection, they based their sound, attitude and image on the British northern soul scene, and were inspired by musicians such as Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Paul Weller.
Mr Cohen said they were releasing their debut album, The North, in Europe before their home country, because “the sound is not really Israeli, Israeli ears don’t understand it. We tried sending songs to the radio here. They don’t really get it. If we send music to the UK stations, they know exactly what it is.”
The album is released by British label Acid Jazz, and includes Mirror Man, a cover of the song by the Human League, described by the label as “a mirror reflection of 1982 Sheffield chic meets polished 2012 cool.”
A UK tour is planned for the autumn, the first time Men of North Country will visit the towns that inspired their sound.
Mr Cohen said he believed a big revival was due for northern soul. “I don’t think this music has gone out of fashion. If the songs are good, they should be appreciated. This mod mentality is having a little bit of a comeback.”
But Men of North Country doesn’t just refer to the music. “It’s actually about where we are from, too. I’m from a kibbutz near Kiryat Shmona on the Lebanese border.”