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What’s Going On: “Motown 25” Comes To DVD In New Box Set, Highlights DVDs

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Motown 25

On the evening of March 25, 1983, the Pasadena Civic Auditorium was alive with the sound of music – the Sound of Young America, to be more specific.  Motown Records was celebrating its 25th anniversary, and producer Suzanne de Passe wasn’t pulling any stops.  “Once in a lifetime” was as overused in 1983 as it is today, but the galaxy of stars assembled by de Passe couldn’t be described any other way: Diana Ross and the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Lionel Richie and the Commodores, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells, Martha Reeves, Junior Walker, The Temptations, The Four Tops, and the Jackson 5 were all there.  And the moment Michael Jackson broke out of the shadow of his brothers, once and for all, to show America the moonwalk, the evening billed as Motown: Yesterday, Today, Forever entered into the annals of history.  With host Richard Pryor presiding over reunion performances ranging from the warm (The Miracles) to the seemingly contentious (The Supremes), a Temps/Tops “battle of the bands” and even tribute performances from visiting stars like Adam Ant and Linda Ronstadt, Motown 25 was an event the likes of which wouldn’t be seen again.  The program aired on NBC-TV on May 16, 1983, and was subsequently issued on MGM/UA Home Video in 1991, but DVD release had eluded it…until now.  On September 30, the Emmy Award-winning Motown 25 will arrive from Time Life/StarVista (in conjunction with de Passe Jones Entertainment and Berry Gordy’s West Grand Media) in a variety of formats echoing Time Life’s lavish treatment of The Midnight Special and other titles.

The crown jewel of this campaign is the 6-DVD box set, which – in Time Life/StarVista tradition – will be an online exclusive at MOTOWN25DVDS.COM. It’s available there now for pre-order.  The release features an extended version of the show, with over 20 additional minutes not seen on the original broadcast, as well as a brand-new 5.1 surround sound mix. The 6-DVD set also includes nine newly-produced featurettes and additional bonus features including:

  • “Signed, Sealed, Delivered – The Making of Motown 25,” which tells the behind-the-scenes story of the making of the program, and offers new insights into the rise of Motown and its roster of super stars
  • “What’s Going On: Marvin Gaye”
  • “Come and Get These Memories: Inside Hitsville”
  • “Dancing In The Street: History of Motown”
  • Rare footage of Marvin Gaye ad-libbing at the piano prior to a soulful version of “What’s Going On”
  • Stevie Wonder rehearsal footage
  • A two-part Motown 25 Performers Roundtable featuring Smokey Robinson and Duke Fakir (Four Tops), Otis Williams (The Temptations) and Executive Producer Suzanne de Passe, taped at the location of the original concert, the Pasadena Civic Auditorium
  • A “Yesterday-Today-Forever” Production Roundtable with de Passe, Director/Producer Don Mischer and others
  • Over 25 exclusive interviews with performers and crew, including Claudette Robinson (The Miracles), Martha Reeves (Martha and the Vandellas), Smokey Robinson, Nelson George, Gloria Jones, Adam Ant, Ashford and Simpson, Buz Kohan (Head Writer), David Goldberg (Executive in Charge of Production), Mickey Stevenson (Former Head of A&R/Songwriter), Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (Songwriters/Producers) and many more.

The box set, pictured above, is packaged with an exclusive 48-page booklet packed with information about the show and artists, production materials and never-before-scene photos from the production, essays on Motown performers, a copy of the original Motown 25 program, and more.

Two versions – a 3-DVD set and a single-disc release – will arrive to retail on September 30.  The 3-DVD set features the concert and over six hours of extras including four featurettes, the Marvin Gaye rehearsal footage, the Performer and Production Roundtables and more.  The single DVD features the newly-remastered concert and over one hour of bonus features.

About the only thing missing from this comprehensive campaign is an audio component, such as a new reissue of the 1983 version of the Grammy-nominated The Motown Story audio documentary or a first-time-ever actual soundtrack of the evening’s performances.  After the jump, we’ll break down the contents of each release for you! Read the rest of this entry »

Release Round-Up: Week of August 19

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Posies

The Posies, Failure (Omnivore)

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Omnivore expands the 1988 debut album from power-pop heroes The Posies.  The new Failure restores the album’s original 12-track running order (preserved on cassette but cut down by one song on vinyl) and adds eight bonus tracks. Many of these are sourced from a long out-of-print 2000 box set and a 2004 reissue of the album proper, but one, a demo of “At Least for Now,” is being heard for the first time on this disc.  The deluxe configuration is available on CD, and the original 12-track album on vinyl plus the bonus tracks on a download card.  Even better, the first pressing of the LP will be green vinyl!

Professor

Professor Longhair, Let’s Go to New Orleans: The Sansu Sessions (Fuel) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Fuel continues to raid the catalogues of Allen Toussaint’s Sansu and Dessu labels with a compilation of Toussaint-helmed sides for New Orleans’ great piano man Professor Longhair.

On the Town - London

Original London Cast Recording, On the Town (Masterworks Broadway)

In conjunction with the upcoming Broadway revival of the classic Leonard Bernstein/Betty Comden/Adolph Green musical, Masterworks Broadway brings the 1963 Original London Cast Recording to CD-R and DD for the first time.  Elliott Gould, Don McKay, Franklin Kiser and Carol Arthur star in this recording of the production directed and choreographed by Joe Layton.  Available exclusively at MasterworksBroadway.com for a limited time.

Smokey

Smokey Robinson, Smokey and Friends (Verve) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Okay, this isn’t a catalogue title, but we couldn’t resist putting the spotlight on Smokey Robinson’s new studio collection!  Smokey puts his own spin on the now-de rigeur duets album, featuring many of his famous Motown hits in new versions alongside Elton John, Sheryl Crow, John Legend, James Taylor, Steven Tyler and more!

Bitter Tears Revisited

Various Artists, Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited (Sony Masterworks) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

This isn’t a reissue, either, but rather a tribute to The Man in Black’s 1964 concept album which daringly shed light on the plight of Native Americans.  This 50th anniversary set presents Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Bill Miller, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings and veteran of the original LP Norman Blake as they reinvent Cash’s original songs with producer Joe Henry.  Look Again to the Wind is also a companion piece to the new documentary film We’re Still Here: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited, chronicling the story of Bitter Tears and this new recording.

Spider - Kritzerland

Soren Hyldgaard, The Spider: Original Soundtrack Recording (Kritzerland)

Pre-orders are now being accepted for Kritzerland’s latest offering: Soren Hyldgaard’s spellbinding score to the 2000 Danish miniseries The Spider, a noir set in Copenhagen in the wake of World War II.  This 1,000-unit limited edition release improves on an earlier CD release in Denmark, upping the running time from around 44 minutes to nearly 79, mastered from the composer’s complete score tapes. The disc will ship by the last week of September, but pre-orders directly from Kritzerland usually arrive three to five weeks ahead of schedule.

Blow Out OST

Pino Donaggio, Blow Out: Original MGM Motion Picture Soundtrack (Intrada)

Intrada has pre-orders open for this reissue of the soundtrack by Pino Donaggio (Carrie) for Brian DePalma’s 1981 thriller starring John Travolta, Nancy Allen, Dennis Franz and John Lithgow.  Though the haunting score was previously released on CD in 2002, Intrada corrects errors in track titles and sequencing, and otherwise upgrades its presentation for a new group of listeners who might have missed out on the first, now out-of-print release.

Shaken, Not Stirred: Ace Mines “The Secret Agent Songbook” With “Come Spy with Us”

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Come Spy with UsFor many, the sound of John Barry epitomizes the sound of the spy thriller. It’s no surprise – with 12 James Bond films under his belt, the late, great British composer imbued his melodies with the right amount of adventure, humor, tension, sophistication, and well, sex. It’s fitting that Barry opens Ace Records’ superlatively entertaining new anthology Come Spy with Me: The Secret Agent Songbook, collecting 25 samples of swinging music from spies and secret agents (and even a handful of detectives!) released between 1962 and 1968, the heyday of the genre.

Come Spy with Me opens with “A Man Alone,” Barry’s 1965 instrumental theme to The Ipcress File. Perhaps his second-most recognizable spy theme after his arrangement of Monty Norman’s “The James Bond Theme,” it inventively utilizes the cimbalom, a type of hammered dulcimer, to achieve its singular sound. Matt Monro had sung the first-ever vocal James Bond theme with Lionel Bart’s “From Russia with Love” as heard in the second 007 film, the first for which Barry provided the score. “Wednesday’s Child,” from 1967’s The Quiller Memorandum, is all the evidence one needs of the rich-voiced crooner’s deep affinity with Barry’s absorbing melodies. The lyrics, incidentally, were written by Mack David; his younger brother Hal would later collaborate with Barry on songs including “We Have All the Time in the World” from the Bond adventure On His Majesty’s Secret Service.

It was Barry, serving in the capacity of arranger, who gave shape to Monty Norman’s composition “The James Bond Theme” for Bond’s screen debut in Dr. No. It set the template for all spy music to come. While the original of the track, with Vic Flick’s indelible guitar part, isn’t here, a fine stand-in is Johnny and the Hurricanes’ 1963 surf-inspired version with prominent tenor sax and organ adding new colors. The most famous artist associated with the music of James Bond is Shirley Bassey. While her showstopping “Goldfinger” might be the quintessential spy song, she’s instead featured belting Lalo Schifrin and Peter Callander’s theme to “The Liquidator” in her most divinely bombastic style. Bassey wasn’t the only one to mine the success of “Goldfinger,” however. Susan Maughan’s “Where the Bullets Fly,” from songwriters Ronald Bridges and Robert Kingston, hails from the 1966 film of the same name, and incorporates about as much of “The James Bond Theme” and John Barry sound as the law would allow! This rarely-heard nugget is a fantastic treat.

Scott Walker not only sings, but co-wrote The Walker Brothers’ Barry-inspired “Deadlier than the Male” from the 1967 film of the same name which starred Richard Johnson and Elke Sommer. Walker’s resonant, haunting baritone meshes beautifully with Reg Guest’s evocative arrangement. (Spy music connoisseurs take note: Walker made a rare return both to traditional melody and the spy genre with his understated performance of David Arnold and Don Black’s sad, achingly gorgeous “Only Myself to Blame” in 1999. The song was written and recorded for the Bond film The World Is Not Enough, but was sadly unused in the actual motion picture; it did, however, appear on the soundtrack album.

Keep reading after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye): Final “The Complete Motown Singles” Volume Bows

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The Complete Motown Singles Volume 12BThey did it.

Nearly nine years after the first volume in Hip-O Select’s The Complete Motown Singles box set series was released, the 14th and final entry in the series, Volume 12B: 1972, will be released on December 10, just in time for the holidays.

The year 1972 marks, for many, the end of the “classic Motown” period. Label founder Berry Gordy moved label operations from Detroit to Los Angeles, and many of his most treasured acts were in periods of transition. Diana Ross was long a solo artist away from The Supremes, while Smokey Robinson would part ways with The Miracles in 1972 – the same year both The Four Tops and Gladys Knight & The Pips would break off from the label. At the same time, though, several of the label’s acts were coming in to their own, from The Temptations’ psychedelic soul styles, the increasing independence and experimentation of Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye and even the shine of the spotlight on solo members of The Jackson 5, namely frontmen Michael and Jermaine.

Included in the 100 tracks across five discs are some choice rarities, including Marvin Gaye’s beautiful (but long-lost) holiday single, “I Want to Come Home for Christmas” b/w “Christmas in the City,” an unissued solo single from longtime label songwriter Valerie Simpson, a duet by G.C. Cameron and Willie Hutch that never made it to an album with Hutch’s vocal, and even rare sides by several pop acts who made their name away from the Motown roster, including Lesley Gore, Bobby Darin and Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.

Packed, as always, with a bonus replica 7″ single (The Temptations’ classic “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”), The Complete Motown Singles Vol. 12B is loaded with notes and essays from Abdul “Duke” Fakir of The Four Tops, Susan Whitall of The Detroit News, journalist Bill Dahl and compilation producers Keith Hughes and Harry Weinger, who “contribute series postscripts that offer back stories of the Motown tape vault, session logs and tape cards.”

The Second Disc has, of course, spent most of its existence lightly prodding Harry, UMe’s vice-president of A&R, for information on the TCMS series; when we set up shop in 2010, the series had seemingly stalled at Vol. 11 the year before. Vols. 12A and 12B would not materialize until this year, though I certainly speak for both Joe and myself (not to mention countless readers and fans around the world) that the work has been well worth the wait.

On December 10, that wait is finally over. After the jump, you can pre-order your own copy of the set.

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Come Get This Thang: The Spinners’ G.C. Cameron’s Motown Solo Debut Arrives On CD

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G.C. Cameron - Love SongsIt’s a shame, isn’t it?  When Motown mainstays The Spinners departed the venerable Detroit label for the greener pastures of Atlantic Records, lead singer G.C. Cameron didn’t make the switch.  Cameron, the unmistakable main voice of The Spinners’ Stevie Wonder-penned No. 14 hit “It’s a Shame,” remained with Motown.  Cameron suggested his cousin and close friend Philippe Wynne replace him, and soon watched Wynne and co. score the group’s first ever Top 10 pop singles.  In fact, Atlantic debut Spinners charted five hits and two Top 10s – including the million-selling “I’ll Be Around.”  Cameron never reached the commercial peak of his old group.  But he was a productive and prolific recording artist for Berry Gordy’s empire even as The Spinners were notching all of those smashes in Philadelphia.  Most of his output, however, has inexplicably remained absent from CD.  Cherry Red’s SoulMusic Records imprint rectifies that with an expanded edition of Cameron’s 1974 Motown solo debut, Love Songs and Other Tragedies.  It adds thirteen non-LP single sides – most of which have never appeared in the CD format – to the original album, creating a truly comprehensive survey of the singer’s early solo years at Motown and West Coast subsidiary MoWest.

Many names familiar to Motor City enthusiasts fill the credits of Love Songs and Other Tragedies: Frank Wilson, Willie Hutch, Gene Page, Paul Riser, James Carmichael, Dave Van De Pitte, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.  Even more top-tier Motown names figure in the singles portion of the new reissue: Pam Sawyer, Gloria Jones, Hal Davis and Smokey Robinson!  In 1971, the newly-solo Cameron was placed on the MoWest label, for which Berry Gordy had high hopes.  But in 1973, the label was shut down and G.C. was shuttled to Motown proper, where he began cutting his solo album.  As a result, most of the singles included here predate Love Songs.

Click the jump to continue reading! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 16, 2013 at 10:08

Losers Weepers! Ace Unveils Rare and Unreleased Songs on “Finders Keepers: Motown Girls 1961-67”

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Motown GirlsThanks to the dedication of labels like Ace Records, it would be impossible to “forget the Motor City.”  Along with the U.S.’ flagship Hip-O/UMG Select imprint, Ace has led the charge in issuing vintage 1960s-era Motown material, much of it unreleased.  The recent release of Finders Keepers: Motown Girls 1961-1967 compiles 24 tracks from girls both famous (The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, Mary Wells) and sadly unknown (LaBrenda Ben, Thelma Brown, Anita Knorl) for a potent overview of songs that slipped through the cracks at Hitsville, USA.  Sweetening the pot is the fact that, of the 24 songs, twelve have never been released before.  It’s always cause for celebration when the seemingly endless Motown vaults are dipped into, and this is no exception.

Listen to a track like The Velvelettes’ “Let Love Live (A Little Bit Longer),” cut in 1965 and first released in 1999, and you immediately realize that it has all the elements of Classic Motown.  Why wasn’t it released at the time it was recorded?  Would it have been a hit?  Chart success can hardly be ascribed to one particular factor, and maybe the track just didn’t have that intangible “it.”  But what “Let Love Live” and most of the other tracks here do have is the unmistakable presence of the Funk Brothers, some of Motown’s brightest songwriters and producers, and the frisson of the Sound of Young America in its prime.

Naturally, no Motown Girls compilation would be complete with songs from the label’s top female acts.  The Marvelettes, who made Motown history with the label’s first No. 1, “Please Mr. Postman,” are represented with Holland-Dozier-Holland’s stomping “Finders Keepers.”   Recorded 1964 but not issued until 1980, it makes a welcome reappearance here.  (The Marvelettes are credited with “The Grass Seems Greener,” too, but the notes reveal that this previously unreleased song was actually sung by Bettie Winston.)  Gladys Knight and the Pips’ 1967 “When Somebody Loves You (You’re Never Alone)” has been oft-bootlegged over the years, but has never appeared in the top-notch sound quality it’s presented in here.   And where would any Motown compilation – girls or otherwise – be without an appearance by The Supremes?  Finders Keepers producers Keith Hughes and Mick Patrick have opted for two songs with Florence Ballard in the spotlight.  1961’s “Buttered Popcorn,” written by Berry Gordy and longtime Motown sales manager/veep Barney Ales, is the object of some good-natured derision in Gordy’s book to the now-running Motown: The Musical on Broadway.  “Long Gone Lover” is a track from 1964’s Where Did Our Love Go album, written by another Motown mainstay, the legendary Smokey Robinson.

Smokey’s imprimatur is all over Finders Keepers.  No fewer than six tracks composed by the Miracles man are present.  With its finger-snapping beat, a haunting title refrain, and the slinky bass of James Jamerson, Martha and the Vandellas’ 1966 “No More Tear-Stained Makeup” is a low-key treat.  (Keith Hughes suggests that the group’s other song here, H-D-H’s “Build Him Up,” could have been withheld from release because Gordy might have found it dated compared to “Heat Wave.”  That theory seems to be a good one.  And yes, despite a volume of Motown Lost and Found and an entire disc of previously unissued material on the recent Singles Collection, there’s still more Vandellas in the Motown vault!)

There’s much, much more after the jump, including the complete track listing with discography and an order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Get Ready! Songs of “Motown: The Musical” Are Collected In Original Hit Versions

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Motown Musical - OriginalsWhen Motown: The Musical opens at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on April 14, it will mark yet another career landmark for Berry Gordy, the songwriter-producer-entrepreneur who turned Detroit, Michigan into Hitsville, USA some fifty-five years ago.  The musical, written by Gordy and directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, depicts the rise to prominence of the Sound of Young America, with Brandon Victor Dixon (The Color Purple, The Scottsboro Boys) starring as Gordy.  He’s joined by a cast of roughly 40 including Valisia Lekae as Diana Ross, Charl Brown as Smokey Robinson, Bryan Terrell Clark as Marvin Gaye and Ryan Shaw as Stevie Wonder.  Despite the considerable talent of the youthful cast, however, the star of Motown: The Musical is undoubtedly the music written by such composers and lyricists as Brian Holland, Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and Gordy himself.  While plans are already afoot for the Original Broadway Cast Recording to arrive from UMe, the label is further supporting the new “jukebox musical” with the release of Motown Originals: The Classic Songs That Inspired the Broadway Show, available in 1-CD, 2-CD and digital formats on March 5.

The Broadway berth of Motown isn’t Gordy’s first foray into theatre.  Motown, under Gordy’s aegis, made a sizeable investment in Roger O. Hirson and Stephen Schwartz’s 1972 musical Pippin, directed by the legendary Bob Fosse.  Gordy’s team at Motown saw the potential in the score by Stephen Schwartz, who had already made a name for himself with Godspell and its hit single “Day by Day” on the Bell label.  In exchange for the company’s investment in the musical, Motown’s Jobete publishing arm received rights to Schwartz’s delectable pop-rock-flavored score for Pippin.  Hence, the Diana Ross-less Supremes recorded the torch ballad “I Guess I’ll Miss the Man,” the Jackson 5 surveyed the beautifully yearning “Corner of the Sky,” and solo Michael Jackson tackled the optimistic “Morning Glow.”  Motown also released the original cast recording, the label’s first, co-produced by Schwartz and Phil Ramone.  Gordy’s investment paid off; when Pippin closed in June 1977, it had run 1,944 performances.  It returns to Broadway this spring in its first revival, melding an all-new circus concept by director Diane Paulus to choreography inspired by Bob Fosse’s original work.

Motown also isn’t the first time Gordy has attempted to bring the story of his renowned label to the musical theatre stage.  Ain’t No Mountain High Enough was announced in late 2006 to close out the season at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theatre in summer 2007.  A report in Variety promised “a book by Gordy and 30 Motown tunes.”  Ain’t No Mountain even announced an opening date of July 15, but it wasn’t meant to be.  The production was scrapped, and Gordy continued the journey that has finally taken his story to Broadway.  The new Motown: The Musical has assembled an 18-piece orchestra to play the orchestrations of Ethan Popp and Bryan Crook, likely inspired by the original hit record arrangements.

After the jump: what will you find on the various versions of Motown: Originals?  We’ve got more details, full track listings and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

The Need for Back-Up: Rock Hall Finally Inducts Classic Backing Bands

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One of the many, many criticisms of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is their occasional neglect of certain bands in favor of other artists. From the first year of induction in 1987, when Smokey Robinson was inducted instead of all of The Miracles, it’s been a legitimate concern.

Today, the Hall attempted to alleviate some of that concern by announcing five such bands would be inducted alongside the five previously-announced members of this year’s class. The additional bands are:

  • The Blue Caps: Tommy Facenda, Cliff Gallup, Dickie Harrell, Bobby Jones, Johnny Meeks, Jack Neal, Paul Peek, Willie Williams (Gene Vincent)
  • The Comets: Fran Beecher, Danny Cedrone, Joey D’Ambrosio (a.k.a. Joey Ambrose), Johnny Grande, Ralph Jones, Marshall Lytle, Rudy Pompilli, Al Rex, Dick Richards, Billy Williamson (Bill Haley)
  • The Crickets: Jerry Allison, Sonny Curtis, Joe B. Mauldin, Niki Sullivan (Buddy Holly)
  • The Famous Flames: Bobby Bennett, Bobby Byrd, Lloyd Stallworth, Johnny Terry (James Brown)
  • The Midnighters: Henry Booth, Cal Green, Arthur Porter, Lawson Smith, Charles Sutton, Norman Thrasher, Sonny Woods (Hank Ballard)
  • The Miracles: Warren “Pete” Moore, Claudette Rogers Robinson, Bobby Rogers, Marvin Tarplin, Ronald White (Smokey Robinson)

A deserved congratulations to the inductees and a “took you long enough” to the RRHOF. What other backing bands do you think should be inducted?

Written by Mike Duquette

February 9, 2012 at 14:44

Release Round-Up: Week of December 13

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The Marvelettes, Forever More: The Complete Motown Albums, Volume 2 (Hip-o Select/Motown)

A four-disc box presenting the last four of The Marvelettes’ albums (two of which are in stereo and mono) alongside rare and unreleased gems from the storied Motown vaults.

Smokey Robinson, The Solo Albums Volume 6: Warm Thoughts / Being with You (Hip-o Select/Motown)

Smokey’s early-’80s comeback, represented with these two LPs on one CD (Warm Thoughts bows on the format for the first time!) along with a couple of bonus tracks.

Rammstein, Made in Germany 1995-2011 (Vagrant)

The German metal band’s first career-spanning compilation, available as a standard CD, a deluxe edition with a bonus disc of remixes and a super-deluxe box with DVDs full of videos.

Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby, Stills & Nash / Gary Wright, Dream Weaver (Audio Fidelity)

The newest 24K gold CDs are a classic folk debut and a ’70s pop breakthrough. Just typing this got “Dream Weaver” stuck in my head; may it stick into yours.

The Monkees, Greatest Hits / The Grateful Dead, Built to Last (Friday Music)

180-gram vinyl reissues of The Monkees’ first compilation and the Dead’s last studio effort.

Written by Mike Duquette

December 13, 2011 at 08:18

Motown Magic: The Marvelettes, Smokey Robinson Album Anthologies Continue

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There’s Motown magic in the air! Though the year is drawing to a close, the fine folks at Hip-o Select are making sure that there are plenty of sounds from the Motor City to fill the stockings of even the most discerning music collectors. The label has just announced the continuation of two series of comprehensive archival releases. The 4-CD set Forever More: The Complete Motown Albums Vol. 2 collects the remaining output of the marvelous Marvelettes, the first girl group to make a splash at the House that Gordy Built.  It will be joined by Smokey Robinson’s The Solo Albums, Volume 6, collecting Warm Thoughts (1980) and Being with You (1981); the former title is making its first-ever appearance on CD!  Both releases arrive at retail on December 13, but Forever More is available at Hip-o Select itself. (We’re still looking for an entry from Select for the Smokey set, but Amazon links will be found below.)

When The Marvelettes implored a certain Mr. Postman to wait, oh, yes, wait a minute, America fell in love with Gladys Horton, Wanda Young, Georgeanna Tillman, Wyanetta Cowart and Katherine Anderson.    The song became Motown’s first No. 1, and the Marvelettes seemed destined for greatness.  But the group that started it all soon found themselves taking a back seat to other groups like Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, and of course, The Supremes.   The Marvelettes’ early years were chronicled in Forever: The Complete Motown Albums Vol. 1, the 3-CD anthology which collected the group’s first six albums plus singles, B-sides and rarities.  The 108-track Forever More: The Complete Motown Albums Vol. 2 brings the Marvelettes’ story to a close, including the group’s final four albums: The Marvelettes, or The Pink Album (1967), Sophisticated Soul (1968), In Full Bloom (1969) and The Return of the Marvelettes (1970).

Following the format of the first set, all of the non-LP single and B-sides will be appended, as well as rarities originally issued on various compilations.  The fourth CD may be the most fascinating, however.  This Lost & Found disc premieres Marvelettes tracks from the Motown vaults, including never-before-heard songs written and produced by Smokey Robinson, Norman Whitfield, Mickey Stevenson, Johnny Bristol and more.  These tracks span the group’s entire Motown career.  The cherry on top on the sundae just may be the rare mono versions of the albums The Marvelettes and Sophisticated Soul; the latter was never even issued commercially. Forever More is packaged in a digipak in the same style as Volume 1, and contains a 40-page booklet with photos, original LP artwork reproductions, track annotations and an essay by Stu Hackel.

What songs can you expect to hear?  Hit the jump for more on The Marvelettes, plus the scoop on Smokey Robinson’s The Solo Albums Volume 6, and full track listings with discographical annotation for both titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 5, 2011 at 14:02