Year of Release: 1972
Spark Records became keen players in the Northern Soul market in the seventies, releasing quite a few singles dedicated to capturing that audience, many of them actually somewhat tepid cash-ins. There's no conceivable reason why anyone would want to own Ruth Swann's version of "Tainted Love" while Gloria Jones's existed, for instance, unless they were just desperate to have something that sounded reasonably similar. Wigan's Ovation, on the other hand, are often flagged up as being a great live band - not something I can comment on, but their Northern Soul styled singles lacked a certain rawness, passion or bite.
This is all quite interesting, as Spark actually issued a couple of singles in the early seventies which pre-empted the commercial rise of Northern Soul. Gene Latter's "Sign On The Dotted Line" is probably the most notable, but "Heartbreaker" by Honeyend also had its fans on the circuit. Starting with a jangling tambourine and a Motown-styled string arrangement, it does sound very "Made In The United Kingdom" - there's a studied, careful smoothness to this you just wouldn't find in many US Northern Soul spins at the time. However, it's also a lovely listen, and an original composition rather than a cheap cover version cash-in.
I have no idea who the performers behind this disc are, but it seems likely they were a session group. Producer and co-composer John Worsley would go on to work on some other Spark singles, but nothing I could bring forward as being an example of a solid hit of the era.
(Thanks hugely to Albert for sending me cleaned up versions of the below mp3s).