Motown Greatest Hits
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While Berry Gordy busied himself as a movie mogul, talent scouting was not an unalloyed success, but The Commodores and Rick James ploughed genuinely fresh territory for the label.
Given the right circumstances, almost everything they recorded could have been hits to match those the company was having with such groups as the Originals, the Undisputed Truth and the Temptations. The Detroit quartet’s cancelled Motown album released at last – with 13 bonus tracks, many previously unissued. Neither seems to have full control over their melodic “gush”; they almost never let anything get in the way of the vocal and sometimes their songs seem built for the sheer joy of singing.
Of course, like all drug highs, once you go beyond the pretty surfaces there are darker forces at work. The first album released in 1975, was a top 10 hit in the UK, where it charted for 35 weeks, whilst Vol.
Lovers of Detroit soul have long rhapsodised about the Fantastic Four, one of the Motor City’s most admired vocal groups of the 60s and 70s. The album’s final groover, Ain’t That The Truth, leads us directly back to the Motown Sound right down to the signature tambourine snappin’ on the offbeat.The legendary Motown label was founded on January 12, 1959 and incorporated as Motown Recording Corporation on April 14, 1960 by Berry Gordy, Jr. Motown: A Symphony Of Soul features some of Motown’s best known and loved singles now reimagined with new orchestration by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Next came the expansive, biographical, slow ghetto groove of Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone but before that the group lost their sweet heartbreak vocal sound when Eddie Kendricks went solo, and on August 17, 1973 the deeply troubled Paul Williams was found in a deserted parking lot near Hitsville USA, dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
In addition to the tom-tom-crazy title track, the album had two of the group’s most mesmerising ballads, the rightly famed Tracks Of My Tears and the breathtaking, heartaching Ooo Baby, Baby, slightly less well-known but, frankly, better, with Smokey’s bittersweet vocal, at the top of his register, raising twice as many goosebumps. In total, utterly effervescent small ensemble playing behind the Walker tenor sax, which is all-wailing, barking, squeaking, quacking and hooting. Irrespective of the source, all of our collectables meet our strict grading and are 100% guaranteed. On side two Walker’s first choruses on Tally Ho reveal a soloist far nimbler than the rest of the album might suggest, while best of the five other tracks is an outstanding band workout, Tune Up – fast, swinging and punchy. For the most part, when these unreleased tracks come out, they are as new to me as they are to my fans.
You can change your choices at any time by visiting Cookie preferences, as described in the Cookie notice. Not only was this James’s strongest set of songs, with powerful arrangements and production by the artist, there was a cohesive vision, too, leaning heavily on ‘in the life’ observation and personal experience – Ghetto Life, Below The Funk, Mr Policeman, Super Freak – and sticky lurve interest from tough funk (Give It To Me Baby) to smouldering slow grooves (Fire And Desire).