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Hip-o Select Spotlights The Funk Brothers on “That Motown Sound”

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Sure, now The Funk Brothers, Motown Records’ legendary in-house band, are notable names to pop and soul aficionados, thanks in large part to 2002’s Standing in the Shadows of Motown documentary and its Grammy-winning soundtrack. But for nearly the entire golden age of the Detroit label, the group was kept away from the spotlight. Hip-o Select’s newest title collects, for the first time on CD, the sole exception to that rule.

In 1965, Motown quietly released That Motown Sound, an album credited to Earl Van Dyke and The Soul Brothers. It’s not hard to guess who makes up the group (though label founder Berry Gordy insisted on the name change from “funk” to “soul”), and the familiar hit songs played on the album, including “Come See About Me,” “My Girl” and “Money (That’s What I Want)” are in fact the original backing tracks with new keyboard overdubs by Van Dyke, the band’s main keyboardist.

Van Dyke and the band were recording more sides even while laying down some of the most notable grooves in pop history. Some, including “Soul Stomp” and “The Flick,” were released as singles on Motown’s Soul imprint; many were left in the fabled vaults. A 1970 live album, The Earl of Funk, saw the band run through live covers of Motown hits as well as tracks by Ben E. King, Jimmy Webb, The Meters and Sly and The Family Stone.

The Funk Brothers moniker would be largely unused by the end of the decade (although Marvin Gaye credited them by name for the first time on 1971’s What’s Going On), and Van Dyke passed away in 1992 at the age of 62. But the legacy lives on like never before in this new, two-disc set, featuring both complete Van Dyke albums in stereo, all the non-LP sides and nine unreleased tracks. The set, housed in a digipak, also boasts new liner notes by Allan Slutsky, who penned the original Standing in the Shadows of Motown book and produced the documentary of the same name.

You can pre-order the set after the jump (the shipping date is listed as March 6), and get a look at the track list as well.

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Written by Mike Duquette

February 27, 2012 at 18:15