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Archive for the ‘The Marvelettes’ Category

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 »

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