Another Northern Soul classic in my B100 top tunes rundown, this time “The Snake” by Al Wilson.
Originally a minor US top 30 hit in 1968, “The Snake”’s upbeat charms were soon to see it embraced by the Northern Soul circuit, leading to a UK reissue in 1975 when it just failed to graze the top 40, stalling at number 41. Although a generally unfamiliar name over here, Al Wilson did experience a lot more success Stateside than many Northern Soul rediscoveries – including a US number one hit in 1973 with a single called “Show And Tell”, which sounds much more akin to mid 70s Marvin Gaye (no bad thing of course!) than the turbo-charged “The Snake”.
“The Snake” is the third Northern Soul favourite to feature in my now nearly complete 100 favourite songs list (after numbers 19 and 80) but there are so many other such tunes that just missed out – including “There’s A Ghost In My House” by R.Dean Taylor, “Out On The Floor” by Dobie Gray, “Tainted Love” by Gloria Jones, “This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)” by The Isley Brothers, “Breakin’ Down The Walls Of Heartache” by The Bandwagon, “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher” by Jackie Wilson etc etc…
“The Snake” ultimately edged ahead of all these for me due to its familiarity and ubiquity in many clubs I’ve been to over the years – especially Manchester’s Smile in the mid 90s, when you could pretty much set your watch by when it would be played each Saturday. It became a bit of an in-joke amongst friends then as we’d probably have liked a bit more variety from week to week, but as time’s gone on it certainly did help to establish the uptempo grooves and nursery rhyme storytelling of “The Snake” as a firm favourite.
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