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November 5th, 2009 06:18 PM
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Released on Gordy, May 1968.
Martha & The Vandellas had an easier transition post-HDH than most. They were shifted to the Stevie Wonder creative team, and the results were splendid.
This album features several excellent singles, including the subtle Vietnam commentary I Promise To Wait My Love, Honey Love and best of all, Honey Love and the wondrous and atmospheric Love Bug Leave My Heart Alone.
Most of the rest here is fine as well, with the side only let down by more predictable cover choices, ala I Say A Little Prayer, (There's) Always Something There To Remind Me and To Sir With Love.
Sadly, this album marked the end of this world-class group's big hitmaking career, though they would make more fine records.
A cool, enjoyable LP.
Add .rar to filename when you download. Thanks to Blaxploitation Jive!!!


Released on Soul, May 1968.
One of the lost Motown masterpieces, one of the great soul LP's and the finest album Motown would release this year.
Gladys & The Pips, after the previous year's breakout success, would become more of a cult act this year, as would non-rock/smooth spliced soul in general in 1968.
Funny, as they were just getting better as they went along.
Here, Norman Whitfield, who may have been coasting with the Temps' poppier material but proved himself still a master of harder stuff, took the group back to bedrock.
As the title states, this one is a deep, rootsy, heavy affair. The followup singles to Grapevine were the classics The End Of Our Road and That's The Way Love Is, incredible songs and records that had some chart success. These songs would later be covered by Marvin Gaye to higher sales in his pre-What's Going On directionless phase.
But nowhere on this album does the quality drop. Every track is a killer, especially cuts such as The Boy From Crosstown and It Should Have Been Me, which receive burning, sexy Knight perfomances.
And if you can hear the finale, It's Time To Go Now, and not dissolve utterly into a hot puddle, you're stronger than me.
This album failed in the marketplace but is beloved to the in-the-know among soulfans.
As another measure of quality, it was given a rave notice, in a combo review with the group's successor LP, by none other than the great Lester Bangs in Rolling Stone.
Anyone/everyone reading this should get this and listen. It transcends any Motown affiliation. Highest recommend possible.

Released in June 1968 on Gordy were two LP's unfortunately unavailable to post here.
One was the San Remo Golden Strings' second LP of instrumental pop-soul tunes, Swing.
The other was the third Rev. Martin Luther King LP, ...Free At Last, issued as a memorial to the fallen leader, assassinated in Memphis two months previous.

Issued on Motown in August 1968 was Diana Ross And The Supremes Sing And Perform Funny Girl. This bizarre album, entirely comprised of selections from the score to the Broadway smash that made a star of Barbara Streisand, and keyed by Berry Gordy to coincide with the release of the film adaptation, was a total artistic and commercial failure. The nadir of the group's career, and a notice that some type of retrenchment was needed in the Supremes' career.


Released on Tamla, August 1968.
Marvin and Tammi's second album, and another heartrending classic, despite troubled nature of its creation.
At this point, Marvin's only real joy was in his recordings with Terrell, the rest of his life suffused with doubt and dissatisfaction.
And sadly, the union with Terrell was doomed as well, though not for any controllable reasons, which made her fate all the more agonising for Gaye.
The first duet album had been rushed into production, and Gaye merely overdubbed vocals onto two Terrell solo tracks to fill it out. This decision would prove a harbinger.
The titanic twosome toured in 1967, betwen recordings sessions for future singles and a follow-up album.
In October, Terrell collapsed in Gaye's arms onstage, and was quickly diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and practically confined to bed, where she would eventually die in 1970. This would send Marvin into a spiral of depression he would never really recover from. After Terrell's collapse, Gaye, never a fan of live performance at the best of times, would not step on stage again for several years.
Two glittering jewels in 45 RPM form were issued around this time, You're All I Need To Get By and the heartstoppingly heavenly Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing (if the string arrangement does not make you long to hold the one you love or dream of, check your pulse). These recordings were supervised by the great husband-and-wife team of Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson. In all, Gaye and Terrell's last sessions together produced about half an LP.
The rest was again created by overdubbing Gaye's voice onto Terrell's solo recordings (even on the LP cover, Marvin seems to be propping Tammi up).
The results betray no such subterfuge. Apparently just the sound of Tammi's voice alone was enough for Marvin to provide a perfect complement. Perhaps her voice was just meant to be heard alongside his.
As with the United album, this second collection is among the finest sets of duet vocal recordings the world has known. Love music from the cosmos, a true piece of transcendence. Meant to be type stuff, the real thing, nothing like it, all you need to get by.


Released on Tamla, August 1968.
Along with the duet LP, this month a new Marvin Gaye album was issued, remarkably his first solo in over two years.
Gaye was a tempestuous figure at Motown. For the past few years and the next couple, he felt adrift at the company, abandoned by Berry Gordy, who was as always devoting his attentions nearly completely to Diana Ross.
This despite the fact that he was a "made man" at Motown due to his marriage to Gordy's sister.
Marvin needed a lot more attention that Gordy could give him and, to be truthful, probably more than any producer could have given. Marvin alone needed to take the reins in order to express what he wanted to say. But it would be a little while before that would happen.
In the meantime, Marvin, as true of his career to this point, was shuffled between producers, all hoping to get a hit on one of the most acclaimed and beloved of Motown/soul artists.
Despite Marvin's psychological issues, and probably because of them, whenever he did make a recording, the results were nearly always excellent, passionate. He could make a song his own, despite the fact that he did not feel strong about his recordings of this era besides the work with Terrell.
A good example is one of the album tracks on In The Groove, the original recording (though released afterward) of Gladys Knight's I Heard It Through The Grapevine, given a slow, spooky reading by the same producer as the Knight record, Norman Whitfield. Marvin didn't want to record it at all, but he did what he could.
Whitfield got Motown to issue the cut on this album, and as with The Miracles' The Tears Of A Clown, a DJ would begin playing the track, response was great, and Motown issued the song as a 45 in 1969.
To Marvin's chagrin, it would become a #1 (strange since the Knight record had been a #1 itself just two years earlier), Motown's biggest seller to this point, Marvin's biggest seller and the song considered his signature during his lifetime (this album was also, as with the Miracles example, reissued under the hit single title).
Here, it is just another of the fine album tracks filling the record, which despite the mixture of producing/composing teams, is fairly seamless due to Marvin's strong vocal presence.
Ashford & Simpson, creators of the Gaye/Terrell duets, were smartly given the go-ahead to cut some tracks on Marvin alone, resulting in the highly underrated Tear It On Down.
Frank Wilson wrote and produced a couple excellent singles included on the LP, the passion-filled ballad You and arresting Chained.
And the rest of the album is fit to stand alongside the classic singles included. Marvin was making classic records despite himself, and this album is among his finest.


Released on Tamla, August 1968.
The Marvelettes still kept up their remarkable career, staying great through the years.
This album is highlighted by their last significant chart hit 45, the wonderful My Baby Must Be A Magician.
And even after this, they'd continue making fine records.
This LP, as the title implies, is comprised of sweet, smooth, tasteful, elegant pop/soul sounds. It manages to achieve this without ever dropping into the dreaded lounge territory, a frequent Motown misstep.
There isn't much to say about it other than it's a great, ultracool, lost gem of a record.


Released on Soul, August 1968.
Shorty Long was a great old-school R&B/gritty soulman, who somehow became part of the Motown stable. Though utterly undervalued and ignored by the upper hierarchy of the company, he was much beloved by his labelmates, especially Marvin Gaye, who declared him the most talented Motown artist.
He had scored one surprise hit already with Function At The Junction, and a cult record in the original version of Devil With The Blue Dress. Earlier in 68, he scored another with the delirious novelty-soul cut Here Come The Judge. Hitting regionally, then nationally, the formally dapper Long was then forced to assume the judge role, appearing on tour and TV in the Judge getup (a similar scenario to what had happened to Gene Chandler after his hit with Duke Of Earl).
This WONDERFUL album resulted. It rounds up some of Long's earlier work (including Junction and Dress) with newer, funnier material. What can you say about songs with titles like "Don't Mess Up My Weekend"? "Here Comes Fat Albert"? "People Sure Act Funny"?
A great album that doesn't forsake funk for funny, but has a great dose of both.

Released on Motown, September 1968.
Such was the Motown family spirit back in 1966, that when Berry Gordy's sister Loucye, one-time vice-president of the company, passed away, Berry could commission a special gospel LP in her honour.
All the top acts of Motown were asked for a contribution, and all asked complied.
Strangely, though the album was completed and prepared shortly after the fact, Gordy held it back for over two years, finally releasing it to the public in late 1968.
Tracks from the gospel ensemble Voices Of Tabernacle and onetime Moonglow/now Motown executive Harvey Fuqua were also included.
Everything here is excellent, but topping all are Gladys Knight & The Pips' powerful renditions of Just A Closer Walk With Thee and How Great Thou Art and most especially Marvin Gaye's astonishing His Eye Is On The Sparrow. This track, as much or maybe more than any other, establishes just what a powerful singer Gaye was.
Another interesting note here is that the track credited to The Supremes is in fact just Diana Ross with session singers, a harbinger of what was happening in the studio with the group at the time of this album's release.
Temptations, Reeves/Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, Tops and Miracles all acquit themselves well here.
An obscure, but very fine LP, a rare opportunity to hear Motown go sacred.


Released on Motown, September 1968.
A Collection Of 16 Big Hits Vol. 9 was the only installment of this great series to be issued this year.
It mostly covers the hits of 1967, with a couple 1966 classic thrown in.
The timeless ones: (Loneliness Made Me Realise) It's You That I Need, Ain't No Mountain High Enough, I Was Made To Love Her, You Keep Me Hangin' On, Bernadette, My Baby Must Be A Magician, Love Is Here And Now You're Gone, Everybody Needs Love, I Second That Emotion, Your Precious Love, Reach Out I'll Be There and More Love.
The ones less folks remember, but are still great: Martha & The Vandellas' Honey Chile, Jr. Walker's Come See About Me, The Temptations' All I Need and Jimmy Ruffin's Don't You Miss Me A Little Bit Baby.
Another stellar volume of some of the great singles ever released.
(Edited by IanWagner)
(Edited by IanWagner)
November 5th, 2009 06:49 PM

Released on Motown, September 1968.
The Tops had transitioned away from Holland-Dozier-Holland during the Reach Out LP, and had been working with several producers since, among them Ivory Joe Hunter and Ashford and Simpson.
This LP was the result of this era of growing pains for the group. It contains a couple great singles in the title track and I'm In A Different World.
The rest is either very nice originals or somewhat bland cover material (By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Sunny, Never My Love, Daydream Believer).
Not a match for the previous Tops recordings, but still quite nice, as far as the new material goes.

Released on Tamla, September 1968.
In one way, this is more super-pleasant 1968 Motown water-treading. No new ground blazed, no world-shakers, a few smaller hits that haven't proved all-time classics, and filled out with songs that sound great when listened to, but are maybe a bit forgettable.
In another way, Smokey was almost the soul Ramones. Dependable according to the comfortable restraints of a tasty formula.
He was never going to go into acid-fuzz like the Temps, he was never going to do a What's Going On tonepoem.
He was just going to do his own thing, which sometimes seemed behind the times, sometimes hit perfectly and defined the times.
But he was going to keep going down the road, nevertheless. For this alone he should be commended, for records like this as much as for the world-beaters. He couldn't go with the trends because he was the trend, that would eventually come around again.

Released on Gordy, September 1968.
Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers were a fine bar band hailing from, well you know, discovered by Mary and Flo from, well you know.
Motown duly signed them and put out a few singles and this album out. If you look at the man second from right on that LP, you'll see that he is none other than Tommy Chong himself!
This album and the Vancouvers' few singles are nothing astonishing, but a lot of fun nonetheless, and it is cool that a multiracial band so musicianly and non-image-derived got on a Motown label.
The band's tenure at the company was quite historic for one main reason: at a Chicago show, Taylor was impressed enough by the opening act to recommend them to Motown A&R men. The act? Jackson 5.
So hey, give the Vancovers a try!


Released on Gordy, September 1968.
And ya see, Berry Gordy was of them Corleone/Scarface/Little Caesar types who wanted to be the only game in town.
As soul collector/aficionados know, Detroit had a hopping, DEEP soulscene besides Motown. Great labels such as Ric-Tic, Tri-Phi and Ric-Tic were around, putting out smashing 45's. What would happen when they got too good, too big, too popular is that Gordy would then buy them up and subsume their catalogues and artists into the Motown archives, most of the time doing nothing with it.
On a few occasions this would provide dividends when an artist would be moved to a Motown label and become a legend there in their own right.
One example is Jr. Walker. Another is the great, still underrated Edwin Starr. I mean, 25 Miles? War? This guy was stone amazing, among the truest stomping soul Motown ever put out.
He had been the crown jewel of Ric-Tic, putting out their most popular 45, the ULTRACOOL Agent Double-O Soul, among other greats.
For this first Gordy LP, smartly, a few of these great singles, including Soul, were coupled with newer Motown-recorded tracks. This makes for one of the finest Detroit straight-up soul LPs.
It's all great, here, simple as that. Soul Master, truth in advertising.
One of those Motown albums that'll make you feel so cool that you'll want to punch raw beef alongside Rocky.
High recommend.

Released on Motown, November 1968.
The stunning, musical face-punch Love Child 45 seemed to herald a new-phas Supremes, which was somewhat true, but was also part of an overall plan that Gordy and cronies had for the group.
The Supremes had been so overexposed in the media, that the public had tired of their image/formula, and HDH were not around to make a surefire #1 smash, as had happened whenever the group had dipped in the past.
In reality, Diana was being groomed for departure, and the groups's final phase would be amongst their more showbizzy, with TV specials, nightclub stints and duet albums.
Before that could happen, however, they needed to re-establish their "black" credibility.
Berry Gordy called together no less than a consortium of producer/writers to create THE perfect Supremes record for the world of 1968, a confrontational, bomb-exploding-every-minute time in history.
Earlier that year, James Brown had crystallised and popularised in song an up-to-that-moment underground black-popwer/pride movement with his 45 "Say It Loud I'm Black And I'm Proud".
Realistically, though a bit cynically, Motown would have to jump on the bandwagon to stay in any way current. That the Supremes, the most "safe" and mainstream of Motown stars, were chosen to be among the first to herald social-conscious themes was interesting. A bold move, but it also showed just how far the group had gone into irrelevancy that year. Nothing less than somewhat shocking/noteworthy would do, after abominations such as the Funny Girl LP.
Love Child, in retrospect, wasn't THAT groundbreaking, being more a melodramatic poor-me girl-group record, reflecting the "ghetto" archetype in ways less than progressive.
But where it counted, hooks, a compelling lyric, production, musicianship, the every-girl lead vocal, a radio-melting mix, this single was one of the all-time greats.
The song took off like a rocket, of course, necessitating a temporary image-change, with ready-made Afro wigs 'n all.
Of course, this move was as calculated, if not more so, than the nightclub image had been. It may even seem offensive in a way, but to the black folks, the Supremes WERE one of their own and were all too happy to welcome them "back home". It is white people, time and time again, who see the group as not "black" enough.
Naturally, a follow-up LP, with one of THE great Motown covers, followed.
Unfortunately, it isn't as great as one would wish. This is really just a comparative thing, though.
The new producer-group who were now in charge of the Supremes recordings had found a perfect formula for singles, but when it came to the album, just spun lovely-sounding formula music.
It is a GOOD formula, and sounds great when the album is played, but it does not stick inside the head.
Nevertheless, a respectable LP from The Girls, as foxy as ever.
Add .rar to the filename when downloading. Thanks to Blaxploitation Jive!!!!

Released on Motown in November 1968 was excellent adult-pop crooner Billy Eckstine's third LP for the company, For Love Of Ivy. Unfortunately unavailable to post here.

Released on Motown, November 1968.
The second phase of The Supremes' "comeback" was pairing then with The Temptations, who had been geared by Berry Gordy as the male crossover act in the Motown stable. He was takng them into the showbiz venues first blazed by the Supremes, Ed Sullivan, Copa, Talk Of The Town, etc.
Strangely, this did not seem to coincide with the progressive psych-funk direction Norman Whitfield was taking The Temps in the studio. So for 1969, the group would lead a strange, dual identity.
The plan to team the groups had been in the works for a while, and tentatively would make a musical mating between Diana Ross and the lead-vocal star of The Temps, David Ruffin. But Ruffin was recently axed from the band, due to his personal problems, replaced by Dennis Edwards. This meant that Eddie Kendricks, by default, returned to the seat of power in the Temps for this duet project, in retrospect a better sonic duet vocal match.
Unfortunately, the thought going into this project was all weighted toward concept rather than execution. When the time came to record, the groups were given a safer-then-safe program of Motown/lite-soul/showbiz cover material.
It all sounds pretty darn bland, with one notable exception.
The most interesting song choice was Dee Dee Warwick's midlevel hit I'm Gonna Make You Love Me. On this one track, Ross and the Supremes found amazing, perfect chemistry and a classic recording was born.
It had not been planned for this album to inspire any 45 releases, but this one was undeniable. It would become a single, one of the biggest of 1969 for Motown, and a timeless classic.
As for the rest of the album, unfortunately nothing came near it, a very disappointing showing.
November 5th, 2009 06:53 PM

Released on Tamla, November 1968.
An unknown, obscure jazz player is given a mysterious shot at making an instrumental Motown LP, and scores an even more surprising minor hit with a cover of the modern pop standard Alfie.

You can read backwards, right?

In actuality, this was a look back towards the very first Stevie LP, The Jazz Soul Of Little Stevie, which also was a wholly instrumental jazz/pop album. Initially, Stevie was seen as an instrumentalist as much as a vocalist.
At this stage, however, it was seen as too far a departure to put this fine LP out under Stevie's name, so this was put out under the badly-kept-secret pseudonym (there's even a clue on the jacket), and sold surprisingly well for such a side-project work.
As interesting as it is to hear Stevie working out instrumentally on piano, harmonica and an early Wonder usage of clavinet, it may be even more noteworthy to check out Funk Brothers James Jamerson and Benny Benjamin, jazz players first and foremost, in this natural setting and context.
A little lost gem, here.

Released on Motown, December 1968.
Not much to say for or about this one. A chronicle of one of the Supremes' more hi-flown live engagements, at the London showcase, the Talk Of The Town.
As with the Copa live set, this is way more nightclub stuff than anything, versions of songs such as Thoroughly Modern Millie (????) mixed up with terrible, fast medleys of the hits.
Paul McCartney was in the audience, Mick Jagger too.
Cindy looks great on the cover, that's about it.

Released on Motown in December 1968 was Merry Christmas From Motown (NOT to be confused with other Motown Christmas collections, even if under the same name). This consisted of tracks by the Supremes, Miracles, Temptations and Stevie Wonder. Some tracks were old, some new. Unfortunately unavailable to post here.

Released on Motown, December 1968.
Yet another part of Motown's late-68 Supremes fest.
The Supremes/Temptations TV special idea was one that had been planned for a while, and was considered the most important part of the eqaution, preceding the idea of a duet album.
The show was an important, groundbreaking moment in TV history. Never before had young, black, non-establishment, non-Nat King Cole/Belafonte/Sammy folk been given their own special on a major network at prime time.
The show was a resounding sucess in tems of ratings, and the soundtrack was a blockbuster, going straight up to #1, the first time this had happened for Motown since the previous year's Supremes best-of.
Unfortunately, this album, removed from historical context, is nearly unlistenable. A nightmare of overcooked arrangements of Motown hits, bleeding all possible soul out, stupid comedy routines, and Broadway slop.
And on the cover, Diana looks more Gene Simmons scary than anything, certainly more than glamourous (of course, she dated Simmons later, so there may be more to this).
A sonic tragedy.


Released on Tamla, December 1968.
Maybe it was the going back-to-ground of the Eivets Rednow project, but when Stevie Wonder went back to his proper career late in 1968, he came back stronger than ever.
This album shows a man still young, and just starting to hit the peak of his powers. He was still under the "control" of a producing/writing team, but his own contributions were growing and perfectly in tune with the material he was being given.
It features no less than three amazing singles, all stacked at the beginning of the LP.
The title track is an anthem of renewal of sorts for Wonder, a song with lyrics that surely had resonance to the young black and hip white communities of 1968.
Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day may have a silly-ass title, but there is nothing silly about the body-popping, syncopated funk on display in the grooves.
You Met Your Match is blistering, with Stevie spitting out the lyrics in a fashion any young rock band would have had to try hard to even get close to.
But the real heart of the album lies in the criminally underrated I Don't Know Why. This riveting, intense song nearly brims over with passion and pain. One of the deepest moments in Stevie's career, and one which surely contained some personal experience.
The Stones were listening, and on the night Brian Jones died, they recorded their own riveting take on the song, the only time they would remotely match a Motown original.
Listening to the first six songs on this LP, one could be forgiven for thinking this among the greatest Motown LP's. But sure enough, covers of pop/jazz evergreens such as Sunny and God Bless The Child disturb the overall picture.
These are nowhere near bad, but still don't mix well with the great original material.
Nevertheless, an excellent album and a big step forward for the genius prodigy of Motown.

Released on Gordy, December 1968.
Almost the dawn of the end of the 1960's and yet ANOTHER utterly dreary and dispiriting live showbiz album from Motown.
As mentioned before, The Temptations were being put through the paces The Supremes had already enacted.
The Copa now played host to the Temps, as it had to the Supremes four years earlier (a measure of how slow a pace racial progress was still crawling at in the straight entertainment world).
And as with the Supremes live Copa record, this is a hard-to-listen-to soup of unrecognisable versions of hits and pop sludge (one segment featuring the songs Hello Young Lovers, With These Hands, Swanee (??) and The Impossible Dream is a REAL chore to sit through).
With the holding pattern of the I Wish It Would Rain album, the loss of David Ruffin, the two mediocre Supremes-duet records and this Copa mess, one might think The Temptations' serious soul career was deader than a doornail.
Amazingly, the group's direction would be altered beyond imagining, just around the corner. Thank God.
November 5th, 2009 07:02 PM

Released on Soul, December 1967.
The final Motown album of 1968, and a great way to take out the year.
Perhaps because of the commercial failure of the gritty Feelin' Bluesy LP, an opposite tack was taken with this release.
Looking over the tracklist, it looks to be a typical safe Motown album. A mix of Motown covers and pop standards. Yawn, right? But listen to it!
This is GLADYS KNIGHT and the PIPS we are talking about, and at this point any material they were given was to become a soul monsterpiece.
These songs, as overdone and stale titles such as The Look Of Love and Yesterday may have been previously, are all given new life here. They become Knight slabs of feeling and passion.
A great album born despite any mercenary motivations. Unfortunately, this album would not do better than the Bluesy album in the stores. The group would see a better commercial year in 1969.
As previously mentioned, this one got a rave combo review with Bluesy in Rolling Stone, from the pen of Lester Bangs. Deservedly.


Released on Motown, January 1969.
The first Motown release of 1969, and a precious but troubling one.
Tammi Terrell is now a legendary figure in soul/Motown history for two reasons. One, that she made the finest soul duets of all time with Marvin Gaye. Two, that she died tragically young, always an endearing fact to rock/soul enthusiasts.
Lost in this equation is the music she made on her own speed. She had been signed to Motown as a solo artist, and her singles began appearing in late 1965. They continued to be released throughout 1966, and into 1967, enen past her teaming with Gaye. These 45's only achieved minor-hit status at best.
Despite this, Motown did prepare and schedule an album for her in late 1966, perhaps as a way to piggyback upon the success of the first Gaye-Terrell hits.
Strangely, the album was not issued then. After Terrell's collapse, Gaye/Terrell duets continued to be released, some artificially created. And at the dawn of 1969, Motown decided to perpetuate the Tammi-on-the-rebound myth by creating another Gaye/Terrell duet album, this one wholly faked.
And probably to prepare for this, the old Terrell album was dusted off and issued at the top of 1969. This despite the fact that Tammi was in reality bedridden and dying at the time, though still a year away from full passing.
This exploitive measure is in retrospect welcome, remaining the only solo full-length release of her lifetime.
It is important to realise the importance of knowing what we know about Terrell's story in evaluating this music. Because we know of her spiritual union with Gaye, the savage beating she took at the hands of David Ruffin (for years rumoured, untruthfully, as the true reason for her brain trauma) and her young death, nothing we have of her voice could be less than precious.
Tammi was a beautiful soul and had a fine voice. Nevertheless, the truth is, had these recordings been by anyone else, they would just be more fine Motown music. They are not among the greatest recordings from the company, and Tammi did not have the greatest voice at Motown. Though the recordings are quite good, and she did have a very fine voice. She was simply meant to sing with Marvin gaye, where her voice and personality shone as bright as a beacon in dense fog, as hot as the towering inferno.
This is not to deny the force of history and context. Those have value as well. Because of the events we have in our minds of Terrell's life and death, these recordings have greater import and meaning. In the end, they are all we have, and for this, they are essential.
RIP Tammi Terrell.

Released on Tamla in January 1969 was Smokey Robinson & The Miracles' Live LP, their second such release. A fairly standard mix of hits and pop standards. Unfortunately, unavailable to post here (though I may be getting this later on, if I do, I shall post it).

Released on Gordy, January 1969.
As usual at Motown, the new year began with a lot of looking back at past glories.
This new series was instituted to gather together the #1 hits in the Motown catalogue, from both the pop and R&B charts. It eventually would run to five volumes, and the first two were released simultaneously.
Included here are Where Did Our Love Go, Pride And Joy, The Way You Do The Things You Do, You Beat Me To The Punch, Fingertips, Shop Around, Playboy, Dancing In The Street, Shotgun and Baby I Need Your Loving. All greats that sound good in this celebration of the pole chart position.

Released on Gordy, January 1969.
Vol. 2 of the Motown Winner's Circle: #1 Hits series.
See last entry for description.
Collected here are Stop! In The Name Of Love, My Girl, Every Little Bit Hurts, I Can't Help Myself, My Guy, Do You Love Me, I Second That Emotion, Uptight, Heat Wave and Money.

Released on Soul in January 1969 was Home Cookin', the first studio LP by Jr. Walker & The All Stars in two and a half years. This featured his past 45's Hip City and Come See About Me, as well as the classic title trac and the original version of Walker's future smash What Does It Take (To Win Your Love).
Unfortunately, unavailable to post here.


Released on Gordy, February 1969.
In 1968, producer and compsoer Norman Whitfield became "experienced". Up to that point, he was a fairly straight company man. Suited, hair straightened and tamed. Musically, though one of the more earthy producers at Motown in terms of soul content, still well within comfortable pop-crossover boundaries.
While the musical and physical worlds of 1967 and 1968 burned with psychedelia and discord, Motown and Whitfield kept it straight.
Interestingly, the most progressive production at that point were Holland-Dozier-Holland, Beatles-listening men who spiked the work of the Supremes, the safest Motown act, with some of the most discordant elements heard on the label at that point.
At first, that took the form of downbeat lyrics, then strange tempo changes and movements in certain singles, finally breaking into full-on electronic noise on Reflections.
When HDH left the label in late 1967, these progressive elements left the company, leaving it in a state of musical stasis, only leavened by the deep soul of certain acts such as Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight.

A part of the musical revolution that had exploded up from the West Coast starting in 1966 was a DJ named Sylvester Stewart. He had been a performer since childhood, but in the mid-60's was a San Francisco DJ, moonlighting as a record producer.
As he saw the SF musical movement explode, he knew he had something to add, something to say, something new.
So he started his own family band, with his brother, sister and musical friends. Sly And The Family Stone. Multiracial, multigender. And a lot of soul, a lot of rock all mixed up together.
The band did not explode immediately, though through some incendiary club sets and industry connections they were quickly singed to Epic Records.
In 1968, Sly came up with an anthem, a song entitled Dance To The Music. This song's effect and the album that followed it, as well as the band's stong live presence, had a truly incalculable effect upon the musical world.
Vocal trading leads call and response, explosive popping fuzz-funk bass, rock guitar and drums, but enough roots R&B/soul to make it palatable to the black mainstream, and enough pop hooks to make it crossover to the white.
This was the NEW SOUND.

Berry Gordy paid no heed to these new developments. Norman Whitfield wouldn't have either, but a friend, a member of the band he was in charge of, Otis Williams, kept pestering him to try on some new sounds, to update, move with the times, that Whitfield, Temps and Motown would be left behind otherwise.
Whitfield, after this endless pestering, decided to listen to this new music, and also to try this new acid thing everyone was talking about. And he did.
Then his mind exploded.

The Temptations had a long, storied career to this point, and were being groomed to to be the tailored, lily-black, male Supremes, at the Copa and on TV, singing shit like Swanee.
Originally shepherded to success by producer/writer Smokey Robinson (though they already had years of experience and failure before that), and featuring the crystalline, honey-dipped falsetto of Eddie Kendricks, smooth hits abounded.
When My Girl came along, soulman David Ruffin stepped to the fore. Then after Smokey's Get Ready was a lesser hit, Whitfield came forth with Ain't Too Proud To Beg, a deeper, harder record and sound for the group.
This provided the formlua for the next three years of the group, gradually getting softened, more balladic, as time went on.
Ruffin, a troubled, tortured, self-hating, woman-beating man, succumbed to self-medication with pills as time went on. Mad with jealousy over the popularity of The Supremes, he eventually went mad over the namechange to Diana Ross and the Supremes.
He demanded a namechance of his group to David Ruffin and the Temptations.
Berry Gordy called his bluff, and remarkably, fired Ruffin, the lead voice on nearly every hit the band had had in four years.
Gordy had another lead vocalist, Eddie Kendricks, as a fallback, and his sound was better suited for the showbiz world the Temps were heading to anyway. A new gruff-voiced Ruffin replacement was added in, Dennis Edwards.
For the moment, Edwards was placed in the cool-stepping backline, and Kendricks restored to leader. This carried them through the Supremes duet recordings and TV specials and Copa engagement.
It could be somewhat obvious that they would return to Motown to record more smooth waxings that would go down well translated to Vegas-styled arrangements.

The world. Nearly decimated by the fall of 1968, and everyone seems to know why. Asassinations of white and black leaders, Vietnam napalm death raining down on the news, melting the hypocritical calm of perfect suburban family couch reality. Young folks taking to the streets to scream in agony and rage, to have their skull snapped by billyclubs, choked with gas and thrown in jail. Detroit burning, Watts burning, minds burning.
Acid warped brains sizzling in the city heat, causing mutant reactionary silent majorities to buzz and howl under the influence of the young heat, rising up to elect pig presidents.
For a soundtrack to this distorted reality, a version of The Impossible Dream LIVE from the COPA wouldn't cut it, Jack.
More like it was the searing feedback declaration from Jimi Hendrix, a black man out of place and time and circumstance on a distant shore, proclaiming that wasn't no life nowhere.
Motown = mental floss for Mom and little sister.

Norman Whitfield and his writing partner, the very first Motown singing star, Barrett Strong, responded to the certain challenge of the musical, psychic and societal precipice by writing a song entitled Cloud Nine.
It didn't just hint at a vague sense of trouble in the world, as had Stevie Wonder singles, or just tell a hard-luck story in a glorified fashion, ala Love Child.
It took the listener's brain right into the nasty heart of the hopeless, strungout, burning ghetto. It did tell a story, a hard luck one, but with a wholly different upshot.
The protagonist was down on his luck, without work, mentally and physically, burnt out on the trail. But instead of the usual HELP ME LAWDY resolution to these plaintive wails, the narrator instead states that he doesn't need any help, he's fine thank you, he's on Cloud Nine!
This image would previously have been used solely to connote romantic bliss.
Here, the cloud was not clearly explicated, giving the phrase a mysterious power. The obvious connotation, considering that young black people, especially young men, were turning to the hardest of substances to take them away from these circumstances, was drugs. Heroin in particular.
Whitfield and Strong, to this day, will not admit to such a connotation. Perhaps they are telling the truth, perhaps it is something they agreed upon so as not be seen as promoting drug use.
Nevertheless, that is how it was taken by nearly everyone, and in some cases, a preponderance of opinion seems to prove the notion that perception is reality.

Taking this song in to the Motown Studio A factory, one might expect some type of smoothed spin on the material, as this had been done in every single case in the past at the company. It was practically written in stone, a company policy.
But Whitfield merely threw the song at the players and let them set the whole thing on fire. The whole atmosphere of the track is pure corrosion, a paranoid and malevolent wah-wah storm charging into a barreling locomotive of hi-hat, tempo changes setting stones upon the tracks, the listener feeling every bump in the road.
When the Temps were brought in to narrate on top of this insane blitz of a track, the splintered comparative dissonance only continued.
Whitfield smartly gave new guy Dennis Edwards the nominal lead, as a falsetto sweetness just wouldn't hit it for this track.
But throughout, the producer spiked the verses, and most especially the breakdowns, by giving each member of the group their own lead lines to sing, throwing the song back and forth to each other like the greatest basketball game in history, on the most dangerous court on Earth.
What resulted was a wild masterpiece that not only responded to the challenge of Sly and messages, but met them in head-on collision, and moonwalked away the better for it, the best on the block, actually.
It was heavier and harder than any soul music previous to it, and hit even harder than most rock because this was still DANCE music at heart! As with James Brown's cold sweaty funk experiments, it was the type of music that would change styles of dance, rather than be built around it.
When Berry heard this, he understandably thought his friend Norman had gone insane. He found the song loud, noisy, objectionable and unsuitable, even offensive by way of the drug inferences. Norman told him this was not so, not about drugs but about pride and self-determination, the very qualities that made Berry the man he was, etc., etc.
To his eternal credit, Berry gave it a limited shot in the markey, a toe in the water, just to see what might happen, how could it hurt, right?

Of course, we know the outcome. Black listeners had to have been astounded. At this point they had reason to be ashamed of Motown, whose stars were on TV aping old blackface routines.
But with Cloud Nine, Motown had come home like Michael Myers came home on Halloween, came straight to the ghetto, gathered up all the misery and desperation on display and threw it onto the radio, so America itself could stand accused. The verdict = GUILTY!
With Cloud Nine, with one single 45 RPM recording, Motown had outran Sly, outran Hendrix.
And then an album had to follow this shit! And soon! The marketplace wanted these prophesies of doom, the hand was literally begging to be bitten.

Norman, understandably, when given the charge of a Cloud Nine album, mainly wimped out.
Side two of the resultant album is bet-hedging music. Music that still contained some measure of musical progress from the ultra-smooth Wish It Would Rain album, but overall, it was soul-pop, emphasis on the second element. It even started with a cover of vanilla-soulmeister Lou Rawls' Love Is A Hurtin' Thing, fer godsakes!
The rest of this side is good music, to be sure, but compared with the revelations on the other side, this might as well have been Galaxy 2 than Side 2.
This made the album a type of too-literal transition point, in the same way as the brilliant but structurally and sonically flawed Bringing It All Back Home by Dylan, a two-sides-of conceit.
But considering the confrontational revolutions per minute of Cloud Nine itself, one other song and the other music that was to follow over the next six years, it can be forgiven.

Side 1.
Besides Nine, an album in itself, Whitfield provided yet another take on I Heard It Through The Grapevine, not as exciting as the Knight/Pips or spooky-blues as the Gaye, but still tasty.
The rest of the side was the thing.
Runaway Child Running Wild was another topical song, addressing the pressing issue of children running away from home, and being drawn into the evil world surrounding them.
Again, a memorable, confrontational lyric was drawn, with cinematic, nightmarish, alternately fist-to-face direct and wildly surreal.
Given to the musicians and singers, a tour de force horror-soul drama for the ages was enacted for all times, all sound formats.
It begins with a cool-jewel drum/electric&acousic piano/fuzz guitar scenesetter. Wah-wah commentary, conga build-up, nagging electric trills, breaking down into a tangle of vocal wordless riffs, diffused organ and an arching theremin-sounding whine.
Edwards tells the story, with more Temps/band ironic, taunting commentary thoughout:

You played hooky from school
And you can't go out to play, yeah
Mama said for the rest of the week
In your room you gotta stay, yeah
Now you feel like
The whole world's pickin' on you
But deep down inside you know it ain't true
You've been punished cause your mother
Wants to raise you the right way, yeah
But you don't care
Cause you already made up your mind
To run away

You wanna run away, yeah
You're on your way
Runaway child, running wild
Runaway child, running wild
Better come back home
Better come back home
Where you belong
Where you belong

Roaming through the city
Going nowhere fast
You're on your own at last

And here the group starts trading up lines, becoming a Greek chorus of warning disapproval:

Hey it's getting late, where will you sleep
Gettin kinda hungry
You forgot to bring something to eat
Oh lost with no money, you start to cry
But remember you left home
Wanting to be grown
So dry your weepin' eyes
Siren screamin' down, neon light is flickin'
You want your mama
Ah there's nothing for you
You're frightened and confused I want my mama
But she's much too far away
She can't hear a word you say
You heard some frightening news on the radio
About little boys running away from home
And their parents don't see them no more
You wanna hitch a ride and go home
But your mama told you never trust a stranger
And you don't know which way to go
Streets are dark and deserted
Not a sound nor sign of life
How you long to hear your mother's voice
Cause you're lost and alone
But remember you make the choice

Runaway child, running wild
Better go back home where you belong
Runaway child, running wild
Better go back home where you belong

At this, a quieter breakdown begins, a usual signal for a wind-down and fade in normal music. But this ain't normal.
The song continues, with the band's commentary now echoed and distant, the child running from safety into the heart of danger. The music and vocals begin to build into a louder, angrier wail of despair.

You're lost in this great big city
(Go back home where you belong)
Not one familiar face
Ain't it a pity
(Go back home where you belong)
Oh run away child, running wild
You better go back home where you belong
Mama, mama please come and see about me
But she's much too far away
She can't hear a word you say I want my mama
You're frightened and confused
Which way will you choose

Then, amazingly, the group break into a bravura display of vocal nonsense riffs! Where this signified joy in Sly's music, when employed in Dance To The Music, here it just seems cruel, brutal, dark taunts in the darkness.
Then the Temps bop away into that darkness, the organ and band slide back into focus and we are headed into an unhinged jazz/funk/rock jam heralded by a vocal cry "I WANT MY MAMA!!!" that for all the world sounds like an adult making fun of a child's torment. All the more chilling for the fact.
This music is tap dancing on a frozen lake, getting thinner by the minute. Time getting shorter, but the dance must go on. It never loses the groove, merely gets tighter, more focused, bluesier, more desperate.
As the tambourine drops out, taking the song back to a bare sonic bedrock, the Temps make a surprise re-entry, this time insisting, in one-note unison, "listen to your heartbeat! it's beating much too fast! go back home! where you belong!".
Everything but the bass is then silenced, as a high counterpoint vocal part winds through the chant, and the congas and organ then provide a coda, with a rattlesnake shake of chilling wah-wah as the final warning kissoff.
Maybe this jam was meant as some sort of 10 minute timefiller for the album, as Whitfield and Strong could only get it up for two songs in this vein as of yet.
But if this is filler, it is made from narcotic poison funk gas that destroys minds and reaps souls, and passes through the eye of a phonograph needle like a symphony for wah-wah and barbed-wire.

The public overwhelmingly approved of this brave new world of soul from Motown, even the straight world.
Both Cloud Nine and Runaway Child (an edited version, but still nearly five minutes) went to #6 on the pop chart, tops on the R&B chart and the LP went to #4.
The Nine single even garnered the first Motown Grammy!
Whitfield and the Temps were now given a license to get up to whatever progressive mania in the studio they wished to, as long as it paid off with sales and airplay.
And the direction would be followed.
Nine would be a remarkable presaging of the next direction in soul music, explications of darkness in both words and music. This would mainly occur in the years 1971 and 1972.
But Cloud Nine did it first, in 1968. A rare moment for Motown, and in musical history, one that remains an infectious, danceable, relevant, charged chemical burn of a sound recording.

Add .rar to the end of the filename when downloading. Thanks to Blaxploitation Jive!

Released on Motown, March 1969.
Jonah Jones was a legendary jazz trumpeter, who did smashing work with Benny Carter, Cab Calloway (especially), Fletcher Henderson, Fred Astaire and his own quartet.
By 1969, he was on Motown, and made this nice little pop/jazz/soul album, riffing on tunes like Michelle, Love Is Blue, and of course, some Motown standards.

Released on Soul, March 1969.
Jimmy Ruffin's second Motown LP. This album collects his singles of the last couple years previous, and some new things.
Jimmy would never find another track as perfect and epochal as What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted, but he also never recorded a bad track either.
This is another fine example of the grittier soul tendencies of Motown and the Soul label in particular, a treat for deep-cut fans.


Released on Soul, March 1969.
Besides Edwin Starr, another act subsumed into Motown when the Detroit label Ric-Tic was purchased by Berry Gordy was the fantastic Fantastic Four.
A group specialising in smooth grit, they waxed many fine Ric-Tic 45s, and it was a wise move to make their Soul LP a simple collection of these original recordings.
Not world-shaking, not revolutionary, just as real as a plate of soul food with a burning cigarette balanced on one of the edges, and child-bearing hips packed into hot pants (red sparkle).
Gordy's monopolistic attitude bore fruit here, we should thank him for putting this stuff together for folks other than hardcore soul 45 collectors with bottomless pockets.
Pick to click:
"Goddess Of Love".

Released on Motown, April 1969.
Another LP for McNair, that uptown singer who would always enunciate just a bit too clearly and slowly to be truly soulful, despite many tries at crossover recordings.
She always seems far more at home belting standards with full orchestral backup than reworking old Motown material with the Funk Brothers. She did record some interesting tracks, including the original, pre-Stevie version of For Once In My Life.
But this one is just nice and pleasant Motown filler.


Released on Motown, April 1969.
Two more volumes of the Collection Of 16 Big Hits series were released this year, with Vol. 10 the first.
This is one of the best volumes, focusing on 1967 (and one from 66), with all-timers and lesser-known gems mixing well together.
Well-known: I Heard It Through The Grapevine (Gladys), Standing In The Shadows Of Love, I'm Wondering, I Wish It Would Rain, You, The Happening, You've Made Me So Very Happy (the original classic by Brenda Holloway, not previously on LP), Love Bug Leave My Heart Alone, If I Could Build My Whole World Around You, 7 Rooms Of Gloom.
Less-known: The Isley Brothers' Just Ain't Enough Love and the original version of That's The Way Love Is (neither previously on LP), The Spinners' For All We Know (not previously on LP), The Supremes' fine B-side Going Down For The Third Time, Edwin Starr's I Want My Baby Back and Barbara Randolph's I Got A Feeling (not previously on LP).
A party on wax.

Released on Motown in April 1969 was A Bag Of Soup, an LP by one of the label's strangest signings, none other than children's TV host Soupy Sales.
Somehow he got the chance to record this full-length, filled with a combination of straight takes on things like For Once In My Life with more comedy-leaning material such as Unwrap Your Bubblegum.
Unfortunately (?) unavailable to post here.


Released on Tamla, April 1969.
This mercenary release, with a cutting title, was a response to the Isleys, having begged for and gotten a release from their Motown contract, then reviving their own T-Neck label (now distributed by Buddah) and immediately scoring a #2 hit with the 45 It's Your Thing.
This made Berry Gordy quite pissed off, and this album went on the market.
Actually though, this is by far the best Isleys release on the label, and an essential Isleys album full stop.
It distills the best of the group at Motown without the filler that weighed down their two "regular" albums there. Collecting all the fine singles from the era, in a good sequence.
Not pure Isleys, more pure Motown, still more than worthy.


Released on Tamla, April 1969.
Marvin Gaye continued to splinter and hide away.
After Tammi Terrell's collapse, Marvin could barely be convinced to reenter the studio (and even those duets were a comeback of sorts), even as he was scoring the biggest hit of his career, I Heard It Through The Grapevine.
The last sessions he would record before his self-produced masterwork of a couple years later produced enough material for a few singles and this LP (though three more LPs would be released over 69 and 70 from old recordings).
The songs recorded were a strange lot, Motown rerecords, a few new songs, some gropings for a new sound.
Thing is, though, Gaye's haunted aura and spiritual warfare lent even the most uninspired projects (Hello Broadway, etc) a riveting air of bloodletting soul power, fragile and important.
The biggest "new" track on hand here was the jubilant Too Busy Thinking About My Baby, reflective of the horn-driven pop music then filling the radios and charts. Marvin was surely able to make a lot of folks happy, even when he was not.
Two of the Motown rerecords, That's The Way Love Is and The End Of Our Road, became the definitive readings, big favourite among Marvin cultists and deep Motowners. Powerful, heavy interpretations of great compositions.
The cover of The Drifters' This Magic Moment is truly inspired, a tribute that may even exceed the beautiful source material.
Among the other tracks, all fine, the most interesing may be I Got To Get To California, reminiscent of the posthumous releases of Otis Redding in progressive spirit.
This album may have been a type of desperate way to keep Marvin in the groove and before the public, but it is simply great music, from one of the most interesting and talented singers the world has ever known, part of the musical autobiography.
And the cover is a stark, simple killer.
November 5th, 2009 11:36 PM
IanWagner :tura:

Released on Gordy, April 1969.
"Pro" note 1:
Edwin Starr was Motown's Wilson Pickett, but a lot more likable. Where Wilson was someone who you knew had a big ego, knew just how good he was, Edwin just seems like a funloving, cool guy.
So far at Motown, he had not surpassed his classic Ric-Tic material which had been included as part of his first Gordy album. He had been tamed, just a bit.
With the title song of this album, a smash hit 45, Edwin finally found his Motown persona.

Now for the real part, can't stop me now.
When I was a kid, besides the mostly-LP collecting record shopping, sometimes special excursions were made to get specific 45s.
It seemed my folks would sometimes just think of a tune they hadn't heard for a while, and had to have it immediately.
This would always intrigue me, especially when it was a song I hadn't heard. One of these occasions was with Elvis' Return To Sender.
Then one day the mission was Edwin Starr's 25 Miles. Didn't recognise the title or artist, and when I saw it was on Motown, I was doubly mystified. A Motown artist I didn't know? (I actually did know War, but only on the radio, didn't know it was Starr).
Of course, I remember sitting around to listen to it for the first time. The opening drum intro contains sharp snare hits, then a skittery backbeat. Puts me in mind of a boxer, delivering a couple hard jabs, then dancing backwards around the ring. If it was a movie, it would be a hard cut right into these actions from out of black.
These are the opening words that serve as an incantation, I'll never forget 'em, right off the top of my head:
Then, as a seven-note horn riff thicker than Shirley on What's Happening!?, phatter than Clyde McPhatter, comes in to properly start the song, Starr continues with these profound words:
More repeats of the horn riff, more blaring, so loud and distorted it sounds like the record needle has a mountain of fuzz on it and needs cleaning.
And then we're into the song, right?
It is a fairly standard-for-soul narrative about the guy having to get home to his lady, but apparently the guy has no car, no money to take transportation and isn't willing to hitch. He's gonna walk all the damn way, all 25 miles.
The song smokes down the track, eventually getting to a brutal break punctuated by a fabulous female/male backup chorus exhorting him on as he counts down the miles, the machine-gun snare drum sounding like faltering steps down a brick staircase.
The last verse begins with the five-mile mark, and as it ends, the narrative is mysteriously left dangling, as the song rounds the final musical turn into the outro, and Edwin lets out a truly pyrotechnic arching whoop, as he walks, runs, into the distance, into his woman's arms, there's a quick fade, and the song just HAS to be heard again.
Seriously. There is NO WAY you won't play this one at least twice in a row. Anything less is a scientific impossibility.

Then, this one time at my apartment in Hollywood, I had a couple friends over. One was my friend Mick, and the other was my friend Marilyn, who I met at the car wash.
She was a black woman, a few years older than me, she renamed herself after Monroe, biggest fan you could imagine, even wore a long blonde wig, I ain't lyin! Only ate at semi-fancy restaurants.
We were drinking booze, firing cigarettes, joking around, playing tunes.
At a certain point in the smoked night, I realised only 25 Miles at 25 on the volume dial would suffice, no matter the hour (which was 2 AM, but the neighbors didn't mind).
I slapped the single on, and me and Mick kept talking, and then about 30 seconds in, Marilyn jumped out of her seat, no joke, and began the fastest, most maniacal, spirited rendition of the dance the Breakdown I have EVER seen.
I dunno if yer familiar with the dance The Breakdown or not, but it is really only easy to do on a midtempo gutbucket song.
Nevertheless, Marilyn had decided this was the ONLY dance to do at that moment, no matter the physical difficulty.
What could me and my friend do but stare in utter amazement, occasionally breaking into loud cheers of encouragement. Then join in with the fucking dancing once I had popped the needle back to groove 001.
That moment will pass through my mind in my last moments on this Earth, a tru highlight of my existence. If I had a time machine, I'd take you all back there to that room.

"Pro" note 2:
The rest of this album is nothing but fun, as well. Some song titles you look at, and you know: this is gonna be a badasssss song, sung by a badass, and I'm gonna feel like a badass listening to it.
That is what I think of when I see titles such as "Backyard Lovin' Man" and "Soul City (Open Your Arms To Me)". All the originals are smokin' here, aww sister, brother, the covers are great even.
If you can't play this and let the energy move from the (white-man) shoulders to WAY down low and get to moving in the way God intended us to, elseways he wouldn't have given us hips, then CASH IN YE CHIPS AND HEAD TO THE BONEYARD.
I'll be in Soul City, where the party is.
November 6th, 2009 05:29 AM
Matinee Idyll (129) Oh Ian, never stop being so fucking amazing. Seriously, your stunning write up on 25 Miles is everything I felt while listening to it on a Motown comp years ago. Pure, frenzied energy on wax. Your story about Marilyn was unbelievable, I was just grinning like a loon while reading it... Been spinning the album the last hour, you're right, not a dud in sight. I'm Still a Struggling Man is a highlight.

Can't wait for you to repost the stuff from the old thread again, I have some big gaps...
November 6th, 2009 07:57 AM
Chance All I can do is echo the words "fucking amazing." Another all time classic thread and another peak for the board. Let me just say something, ‘cause I’m really feeling it.

It’s what Moog expressed on the Velvets thread awhile ago, which struck a deep chord in me but went unexpressed, “We are so damn lucky on this board. It's a comparitively small list of regular users but the quality of posts, posters, threads and downloads is incredibly high.”

So true. We are just this little messageboard, with a fairly insular, tight little band of regulars. I don't think we're really known beyond our own little circle. On the one hand it's kind of nice because it leaves us unbridled, we can post anything, unhindered by all but our ambitions and passion and knowledge, not having to contend with notoriety, deleted links or emails from lawyers. On the other hand, it's so obvious to me that the quality of what we do at our best could and maybe should be pulling in tens of thousands of visitors a month. Their loss, and it's a shame, but at least we got ours.

And thus, to wit, my friends: someday, hopefully distant years from now, this board will be gone and with it maybe a sense of youth and, to some small degree – certainly not completely, but to some small degree - maybe our focus on music as a central pillar of life. I’m just saying appreciate what we have here folks, actually stop and think about it for a minute, appreciate it. Because when we look back from the perspective of not having it anymore, we will know just how unique and irreplaceable it was. This place is one of the greatest musical educations you’ll ever get to experience. This place is a wishing well into which you can dependably dip your bucket and come up with a dripping pail full of magic every time, the likes of which can be found very few and far between on the vast and endless plains of the internet.

Quothe the Lennon, “You don’t know what you got until you lose it.”
Know what you got, peeps; right here, right now.
November 6th, 2009 08:45 AM
Leo K Ian, I wish you become a Mahler fan so I can hear some more golden words about him from your pen man...great stuff!!!!!!!!

November 6th, 2009 08:50 AM
Jon I echo every word Chance posted just there.
November 6th, 2009 09:56 AM
MoogDroog Amen to all that.

Played Martha And The Vandellas' 'Watchout!' before leaving the house this morning and it picked me right up. Love the Lust For Life-style rhythm to I'm Ready For Love. They make some sweet pop music - don't think i've heard anything by them yet that i don't like. They're pretty underrated? It's such a strong album, start to finish. It's still a revelation that listening to Motown albums is just as much of a thrill as listening to the Singles sets.
November 6th, 2009 10:16 AM
Jon Oh, and that Edwin Starr essay is equally brilliant to the Cloud Nine essay. ON POINT, brotha.
November 6th, 2009 10:25 AM
Summ-a-Briz Nice post Ed!
November 6th, 2009 10:33 AM
MoogDroog Yep, loved the Edwin essay. 25 Miles is much played round these parts - you hear it at every Soul / Funk / Northern Soul night, every retro radio show plays it, everyone i know that's vaguely into Soul loves that one... and it still sounds earth-shaking every time its on. The version i'm familiar with sounds a tad more forceful than this album version perhaps? Dunno.

One thing i love about him after hearing this album is that he really doesn't like to leave any part of a song without his vocals on it. Just about any gap is filled with a "HUH", "UHHH!", "AH!" or "MMMMHMMM!!!". Towering personality, badass is the word.
November 6th, 2009 10:39 AM
But throughout, the producer spiked the verses, and most especially the breakdowns, by giving each member of the group their own lead lines to sing, throwing the song back and forth to each other like the greatest basketball game in history, on the most dangerous court on Earth.
What resulted was a wild masterpiece that not only responded to the challenge of Sly and messages, but met them in head-on collision, and moonwalked away the better for it, the best on the block, actually.
None of which was lost on R&B's other rising visionaries; the track that finally put Eugene Record and his Chi-Lites on the map in '70 owes an obvious debt, in both musical approach and gutsy, no-bullshit lyrics:

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November 6th, 2009 10:55 AM
MoogDroog This Magic Moment - NEW FAVOURITE SONG. I thought the version by Lou Reed on the Lost Highway soundtrack was the original, haha
November 6th, 2009 11:00 AM
IanWagner Thanks JOE, Tom, Jon, Todd.
Chance, u get the silver.
November 6th, 2009 11:19 AM
Chance You take the gold!

November 6th, 2009 11:40 AM
IanWagner David Ruffin, coming up soon.
November 6th, 2009 12:26 PM
Summ-a-Briz I enjoy this MPG album, but I think it's quality is of a modest proportion.
The praise of "This Magic Moment" here can only make me think that maybe folks don't respect The Drifters. This is clearly a cover to me, not a real rendering.
November 6th, 2009 12:35 PM
MoogDroog Like Ian said, it's all in his voice. I just listened to the Drifters version and it's damn good but doesn't have the indescribable quality that Marvin's voice lends to it. Kind of sweet and raw, in a Sam Cooke way
November 6th, 2009 12:39 PM
Summ-a-Briz Yes, Marvin's a better singer, but that doesn't mean he can trump any version of any song.

This Magic Moment is supposed to convey a naive, almost impossible vision of elegance. I think it works best this way, anyway, through The Drifters, who are absolutely worth defending
November 6th, 2009 12:40 PM
IanWagner :tura:

Released on Motown, May 1969.
David Ruffin was one of the great soul singers, keeping The Temptations in great lead vocal performances for four years. A smoother grit was never heard in the genre, in the heavens and on the cracked concrete simultaneously.
But the guy simply was not a happy soul. Manic-depressive, paranoid, frightened and frightening, with a drug problem that tipped him into insanity.
Even during his Temps facade, he had gone from looking quirky to unhealthy. By the end, he looked like nothing less or more than a wiry, wired, hollowed-out skelton in a leisure suit with a pompadour and glasses, Buddy Holy lived and gone Soul Man on a bad day.
He had burnt most of his personal bridges, with The Temptations most important of all. And he made his friends, family and girlfriends' lives a hell as well.
Luckily, he hadn't totally destroyed his relationship with Motown and Berry Gordy, and he was given a shot at a solo career.
And, unlike every other going-solo Motown story (except Diana Ross, Smokey and Lionel Richie), he came up aces on the very first try. My Whole World Ended was a classic Motown torch-soul song, as great as the Temps records he voiced, and somewhat similar to the deeper-soul records his brother was cutting for the Soul subsidiary.
Thing is, though, despite the facts that the song is a classic and a well-deserved chart and radio smash, isn't titling your first solo record My Whole World Ended KIND OF a bad omen?
I mean, what if Sinatra's first record after leaving Tommy Dorsey would have been called "I'm Alone Now And Scared"?
And this artistically excellent follow-up album isn't exactly Fun Hour, either. Look at that cover! This dude ain't having a good day!
Check the song titles: "Pieces Of A Man". "Somebody Stole My Dream". "I've Lost Everything I've Ever Loved". "The Double Cross". Best of all, "World Of Darkness"!
It's enough to put you off your bag of Cheetos.
And the omen would prove correct. Though Ruffin would make more fine records for Motown, he'd never have another record as good or popular, unfortunately.
He would survive into the 1990's, but still die at a relatively young age, 50. His whole world ended much earlier.
November 6th, 2009 12:41 PM
MoogDroog I need to hear more by them, for sure! Just going on first impressions and gut instinct really - i'm gay(e) for Marvin at the moment..
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