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Morales Preps the (Dance) Sound of Young America on “Club Motown”

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Club MotownCalling all ’80s Motown fans! Universal’s U.K. arm has issued a double disc set of 20 classic club mixes from the label, curated by noted remixer John Morales.

Motown of course crafted the sound of young America throughout the ’60s and created some deeply affecting funk and soul in the ’70s, but the ’80s was still a prolific time, thanks to popular R&B/dance acts including Rick James and DeBarge as well as established acts like The Temptations and Commodores frontman Lionel Richie. Morales and partner Sergio Munzibal, the “M+M” mixing team, turned many of those tracks into club hits, and Club Motown features some familiar hits as well as some mixes that were only ever released in Europe, for the likes of Michael Lovesmith or Bobby Nunn.

In addition to the classic vintage dance sides on Club Motown, Morales has completed work on six new “throwback” club mixes of tracks by Teena Marie, Diana Ross, Thelma Houston and more! A double 12″ single set, John Morales Presents Motown Divas, features some of these new mixes plus instrumentals in a vintage-style sleeve.

After the jump, you can check out the track lists for both sets and place your orders!

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Where Were You When We Needed You: Latest Volume of “The Complete Motown Singles” Arrives in June

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Motown 12ALet’s dispense with the “Get Ready” puns: after a four-year wait, Hip-O Select’s Complete Motown Singles series inches closer toward the finish line with Volume 12A: 1972.

This five-disc set includes every single side released by Motown during the first half of 1972, a time of transition for the company. Berry Gordy had already moved his Detroit-based media empire westward to Los Angeles, leaving some of his flagship groups in a transitional period. The Jackson 5 still had their hits, but not with the blinding intensity of their earliest years (though Michael still enjoyed hits off of his solo debut Got to Be There). Marvin Gaye released a one-off single, “You’re the Man,” in between two masterpieces (1971’s What’s Going On and 1973’s Let’s Get It On), while Stevie Wonder began his journey as a fully in-control adult artist with “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)” from Music of My Mind. Both Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and Martha & The Vandellas released their farewell singles in this era, while a new up-and-coming band named The Commodores released their first.

It was certainly a unique time there, and now, it’s coming home, The Complete Motown Singles-style. That means gorgeous book packaging with a bonus 45 (devoted MoWest’s The Blackberries, whose single “Somebody Up There” actually was never issued as a 45), multiple essays (including by Motown engineers Russ and Ralph Terrana, Susan Whitall of The Detroit News), and track-by-track notes by Bill Dahl and producers Keith Hughes and Harry Weinger.

The box ships from Select on May 31 and from all retailers June 11. Hit the jump for a full track list and Amazon pre-order link!

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MoWest Legacy Celebrated on New Compilation

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Indie label Light in the Attic Records has prepped an interesting catalogue compilation for release: an overview of one of Motown’s oft-overlooked divisions: MoWest Records.

By the 1970s, Berry Gordy had a grander vision for Motown than ever before – one that extended from music into the film industry. To do that, of course, he needed a base of operations in Los Angeles, and the label’s L.A. offices went from becoming a branch to the central nervous system of the company in 1972. (It’s this year that usually caps Motown compilations; should the final Complete Motown Singles box sets become ready for release, they too end at 1972, when the label finished moving west.)

But before everyone packed their bags for good (or left the label, in some cases), Gordy started a West Coast-centered imprint of Motown. MoWest, with its beautiful label design (the sun setting over a Pacific beach) and laid-back R&B soul roster that included underrated acts like Odyssey, The Sisters Love and G.C. Cameron, future stars including Thelma Houston, Syreeta Wright and The Commodores and one displaced legend in Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons began in earnest in 1971.

Unfortunately, the imprint and its roster never got the attention they deserved: Motown’s legends were still putting out gold – Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Diana Ross’ burgeoning solo career and The Temptations’ experiments with psychedelic soul were some of the high points – and the label’s newest upstarts, The Jackson 5, were taking America by storm. MoWest folded in 1973, and although some of the acts would find success on Motown proper, too many of them did not.

That’s where Light in the Attic comes in. On June 14, the label is releasing a newly-remastered (from the original tapes, no less) 16-track compilation of tunes from the MoWest roster. Some of them have appeared on CD before – Hip-o Select did a set for Valli’s Motown years – but a lot of these tracks hew toward the obscure, so it’s nice to see them given the red carpet treatment. And, as if a CD release wasn’t cool enough, the set’s also coming out as a double-vinyl set, too.

Again, Our Lives Are Shaped by What We Love: Motown’s MoWest Story is out on June 14, and you can order it here. As always, the track list is after the jump. (Thanks to Ken Shane for passing this one along!) Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

June 2, 2011 at 13:41