The Second Disc

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It’s Motown Monday: Kent Releases The Definitive Monitors In June

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It’s Motown Monday here at The Second Disc as we’re pleased to spread the news of the latest title in Ace Records’ series of lost Motown treasures!  Previous releases have been devoted to The Satintones, The Contours and Marv Johnson, and this June will see the first-ever CD anthology dedicated to the recordings of The Monitors.  Led by future Temptation Richard Street, The Monitors released five singles on Berry Gordy’s V.I.P. and Soul labels and one LP on Soul.  Say You!: The Motown Anthology 1963-1968, on Ace’s Kent label, includes the entirety of Greetings!…We’re The Monitors (which included eight tracks already released as singles) plus two B-sides and a whopping twelve unreleased tracks directly from the Motown vaults.  The resulting set includes a version of every track released by The Monitors under that name during the group’s nearly seven-year stay at the Detroit label (i.e. every Monitors A- and B-side plus LP tracks).  Most are being reissued in stereo for the very first time.

Street, John “Maurice” Fagin, Warren Harris and Sandra Fagin (John’s wife) , a.k.a. The Monitors, began their recording life at Motown as The Majestics.  However, none of the original members of The Majestics remained by the time the group signed with Motown.  (The Majestics began recording in 1958 for the small Contour label and also recorded for Chex Records.)  “Hello, Love” was written by Street, Harris and Thelma Gordy, and was scheduled for release on V.I.P. in 1964, backed with “The Further You Look, The Less You See” written by two Motown legends, Smokey Robinson and Norman Whitfield.    Unfortunately V.I.P. 25010 never got past the test pressing stage.  The Majestics re-entered the Snakepit in 1965 to re-dub “Hello, Love” but this version was also consigned to the vault.

It wasn’t until 1966 and “Say You” that The Monitors finally received the greenlight for a released single.  (Somewhat ironically, Richard Street was a Quality Control analyst at Motown by day, seeing that only the finest records were released on the label!)  After the initial pressing, Motown learned that a white group named The Majestics had been recording on the Linda label.  And so The Monitors were born.  The 1964 “Hello, Love” saw a belated release on 2006’s The Complete Motown Singles Volume Four: 1964; the 1965 version remains unreleased.  “Hello, Love” is the only key Monitors song not included on Kent’s new CD, in either version.  “The Further You Look, The Less You See” was used as a B-side in 1968 and also appeared on The Monitors’ LP; that song is, indeed, part of the new anthology.  Greetings!…We’re the Monitors was the sole LP released by the group, and it featured a fine cover of Jay and the Techniques’ “Baby Make Your Own Sweet Music” as well as a Smokey Robinson ballad, “You Share the Blame.”

Hit the jump for more details on this new compilation plus the full track listing with discographical information and pre-order links!

The Monitors’ lone chart hit was “Greetings (This is Uncle Sam),” a song originally recorded by the Valadiers.  The Monitors’ rendition of this timely song reached No. 21 on Billboard’s R&B chart and No. 100 on the pop chart in 1966.  The lack of chart placement and airplay, however, is no reflection on the quality of the music recorded by the group.  When Paul Williams was forced to depart The Temptations due to the failing health, however, Richard Street stepped in for him and The Monitors’ fate was sealed.  Having performed with The Distants, the earliest recorded incarnation of the Temptations, Street was no stranger to the group.  As a result of his new affiliation, The Monitors quietly faded into history; as The New Monitors, the remaining group members did manage a single release on Buddah in 1972.  In the 1980s, a later version of the group recorded for Ian Levine’s Motorcity label.  As for Richard Street, he sang the immortal vocals on such songs as “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” and “Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)” as a Temptation.

Street has shared his memories with Keith Hughes, the compiler of Say You!  The copiously-illustrated booklet will feature label shots and annotation by Hughes.  Say You! – The Motown Anthology 1963-1968 is set for June 7 in the U.K. with an American release to follow one week later.

The Monitors, Say You! – The Motown Anthology 1963-1968 (Ace/Kent, 2011)

  1. Bring Back The Love
  2. Share A Little Love With Me (Somebody)
  3. Step By Step (Hand In Hand)
  4. The Further You Look, The Less You See
  5. Since I Lost You Girl
  6. Baby Make Your Own Sweet Music
  7. Greetings (This Is Uncle Sam)
  8. Time Is Passin’ By
  9. Say You
  10. Number One In Your Heart
  11. Serve Yourself A Cup Of Happiness
  12. You Share The Blame
  13. Too Busy Thinking About My Baby *
  14. The Letter *
  15. Poor Side Of Town *
  16. Crying In The Night [alternate mix] *
  17. My Love Grows Stronger *
  18. It Only Happens When Love Is Gone *
  19. Show Me You Can Dance *
  20. You’re So Fine And Sweet *
  21. I’m In Love With You Baby *
  22. Anything *
  23. Guilty *
  24. Cry [version 1] *
  25. All For Someone
  26. Don’t Put Off Till Tomorrow What You Can Do Today

Tracks 1-12 from Greetings!…We’re the Monitors, Soul 714, 1968
Tracks 13-24 (*) previously unreleased
Track 25 from VIP single 25028, 1965
Track 26 from VIP single 25039, 1966

Written by Joe Marchese

April 25, 2011 at 15:15

One Response

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  1. Thanks for the information, this cd will be a great 60th birthday present ,for my mother. I know she will love this . And track 7 : “greetings (this is uncle sam)” has a very meaningful reminder to father was a veterian in the marines.he said this was his song to her. They got married the day he left for war & they we’re married for 17 yrs ,with 7 beautiful children. He sadly had a massive heart attack at 36 & died in bed ,in my mothers arms & kids walking in the door from school. She has just celebrated her,what would have been their 40th wedding annivery & his 23rd year gone(yes,the same day)……. So again thanks! : )


    May 31, 2011 at 18:16

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