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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 »

Eight More ICON Sets for You to Briefly Consider

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What you will see after the jump are eight more of Universal’s generic ICON titles, released this past Tuesday. There are two country acts, two Motown acts, two Motown compilations, one from Dean Martin and one from pop/rock band Fall Out Boy. A stranger collection you’ll rarely find. I’d give a halfhearted recommendation to the Motown ones if you want to spend a little money on someone who has the distinct displeasure of never having heard any Motown song, ever. If you have more money to spend, though, get a box set or something. You won’t regret it. Trust me.

Follow the jump for order links (the single-disc Motown Classics did not appear on Amazon; we’ve used a Barnes & Noble link instead.)

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Release Round-Up: Week of October 24/25

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It’s Tuesday, but most of the new music this week has already been out for a day. But assuming you were too busy to get out to the shops, here’s a look at what’s new. And there’s quite a bit!

Various Artists, Phil Spector Presents The Philles Album Collection (Phil Spector Records/Legacy)

Six of the first seven Philles albums presented in mono, along with a bonus disc of those delightfully out-there instrumental B-sides. Seriously, have you heard any of them? They’re crazy. In a good way, that is.

Diana Ross & The Supremes, The 50th Anniversary Collection 1961-1969 / The Temptations, The 50th Anniversary Collection 1961-1971 (Hip-o Select/Motown)

Two new triple-disc sets capture two of Motown’s greatest groups at their peak, with every A- and B-side from the listed periods contained therein.

Paul Simon, One Trick Pony / Hearts and Bones / Graceland / The Rhythm of the Saints / Songwriter (Legacy)

The first four are the 2004 Rhino reissues in jewel cases instead of digipaks (although Graceland is re-remastered), the last is a two-disc compilation handpicked by Simon himself with a big thick booklet for your persual. (Have you read Joe’s great review? You really should.)

Pearl Jam, Pearl Jam 20 (Sony Music Video)

Cameron Crowe’s celebratory documentary, now available for home viewing.

Various Artists, The Bridge School Concerts: 25th Anniversary Edition (Reprise)

Two new sets – a 3-disc DVD box and a double-disc CD set – capture 25 years of one of the best known (and, let’s face it, best) benefit concert series of all time. Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Bob Dylan, The Who, Simon and Garfunkel, Paul McCartney, Sonic Youth and a host of other rock luminaries appear.

Howlin’ Wolf, Smokestack Lightnin’: The Complete Chess Masters 1951-1960 (Hip-o Select/Chess)

Four CDs of vintage blues goodness from The Wolf – including some tracks making their Stateside debut.

Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More: Deluxe Edition (Glassnote)

The great British roots-rockers’ major label debut, expanded with a bonus track, a live disc and a DVD documentary.

The Monkees, Head (Rhino)

A shiny new vinyl reissue of the cult classic album.

The Mamas and The Papas, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears / Strawberry Alarm Clock, Incense and Peppermints (Sundazed)

The original, classic albums in mono, on CD! (There are a few other notables coming from Sundazed for you ’60s fans, too.)

Yes, 9012Live: The Solos – Expanded Edition (Friday Music)

The first-ever domestic CD release of Yes’ overlooked live album/side project, with two live bonus tracks for good measure.

Deftones, The Vinyl Collection 1995-2011 (Reprise)

A limited edition collection of the alternative band’s studio albums, plus an album of non-album covers, previously only available as a Record Store Day exclusive. (It’s sold out online, but I’m sure it’s still up for grabs here and there.)

Nirvana, Nevermind: Super Deluxe Edition (Geffen/UMe)

Previously a Best Buy exclusive, it’s worth noting that this title is now available everywhere. Hooray!

Motown Commemorates Supremes’, Temptations’ Golden Anniversary with Two New Releases

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Motown’s 50th anniversary was celebrated in style in 2009 – a year before The Second Disc even existed – with some excellent box sets and reissues. But this year marks another important set of golden anniversaries for the label: the debut of Motown’s world famous groups, The Supremes and The Temptations. And no commemoration would be complete without a little bit of product to attract fans and collectors.

With that in mind, Hip-o Select announced over the weekend a pair of triple-disc sets commemorating the singles (both A- and B-sides) of each group for their 50th anniversaries. The Supremes’ 50th Anniversary: The Singles Collection 1961-1969 focuses exclusively on the years Diana Ross led the legendary girl group. But that focus means you get the lesser-told parts of the narrative, too: the group’s early flop singles leading up to that glorious run of five No. 1 singles in 1964 and 1965; a rare Phil Spector-produced radio single; the excellent foreign sides collected on Motown Around the World: The Classic Singles and more.

The same red-carpet treatment is afforded for The Temptations on their set, going through “My Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “Psychedelic Shack” and “Just My Imagination (Running Away from Me),” in addition to the typical bonus fare – international singles, early rarities and – in a bit of overlap between The Supremes’ set – all of the original A- and B-sides that brought both groups together. While the set only covers the band’s first decade, thereby leaving out a major hit in “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” the song selection is a thorough overview for fans with money to spare.

Of course, collectors have one burning question about this set…and we’re going to do our best to answer it after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 26, 2011 at 11:23

Release Round-Up: Week of September 13

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Jimi Hendrix, Winterland / Hendrix in the West / Blue Wild Angel: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival / The Dick Cavett Show (Experience Hendrix/Legacy)

Another wave of Hendrix catalogue titles from Legacy, all of a live nature. The Winterland set captures The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s legendary run at the venue of the same name over four discs (or one, if you’re into the whole brevity thing), while In the West provides an expanded, slightly alternate presentation of the posthumous live LP. The DVDs Blue Wild Angel and The Dick Cavett Show show Hendrix at his live prime, with some special features to boot. Look for reviews of all these sets – Joe’s take on the CDs and my look at the DVDs – very soon! (Official site)

The Beatles, 1 (Apple/EMI)

In case you weren’t one of the tens of millions of people who’ve picked up this compilation since 2000, it’s been remastered (from the 2009 remasters, naturally). (Official site)

Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band, Live Bullet / Nine Tonight (Capitol/EMI)

Two killer Seger live albums, remastered and expanded with one bonus track apiece. (Official site)

The Art of Noise, Who’s Afraid of The Art of Noise? (ZTT/Salvo)

The first full-length LP by the influential U.K. act is expanded with unreleased BBC sessions and a DVD of videos and other vault treasures. (Official site)

1991: The Year Punk Broke (Geffen/UMe)

A greatly-expanded presentation of this vintage documentary, spotlighting the rise of Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., as seen on the road and in the trenches. (Official site)

Motown Gold on The Ed Sullivan Show / The Best of The Supremes on The Ed Sullivan Show / The Best of The Temptations on The Ed Sullivan Show (Hip-O/Sofa Entertainment)

The Sound of Young America and the Toast of the Town, combined on three handy DVD packages. (Official site)

Motown Memories Captured on New DVDs

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Oh, for the days when there was a bounty of venues to hear the latest, greatest music on television. By far, one of the greatest vanguards of popular music in the halcyon days of the medium was Ed Sullivan, host of his eponymous show from 1948 to 1971. While Sullivan found himself somewhat bemused by the wide variety of talent he showcased – legendarily confining camera angles on Elvis Presley to tight shots that wouldn’t expose too much of his gyrating hips – he generally picked performers regardless of the approval of the masses, a quality that led, happily, to a large amount of black performers on the show.

And by the 1960s, no roster of soul artists was more popular than Motown Records. Sullivan welcomed the greatest performers on Berry Gordy’s label to his program, from the jazz-soul of young Stevie Wonder and the upbeat harmonies of The Temptations to the breakthrough performances of The Jackson 5 and The Supremes – the latter of whom made nearly 20 appearances on the show and became a personal favorite of the host. On September 13, Sofa Entertainment, the controllers of The Ed Sullivan Show‘s library, will release three DVD sets chronicling great Motown performances from Sullivan’s program.

The first set, Motown Gold from The Ed Sullivan Show, is a two-disc, three-volume set that showcases the label’s top acts. In addition to the hit performances by The Supremes, The Temptations and The Four Tops (all of whom enjoyed a massive amount of exposure on the show up to the end of The Ed Sullivan Show‘s run), clips by Martha & The Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and others are featured. While the clips aren’t in chronological order, they will make for a fine mix of Motown memories.

The same day will see releases of best-of DVDs for The Temptations and The Supremes. While some of the performances are featured on the Motown Gold set, a total of 25 performances (12 from The Temptations and 13 from The Supremes) are featured, including some great rarities like highlights from The Temptations’ 1971 performance, the last live broadcast of the show, and The Supremes’ 1970 performance of “Up the Ladder to the Roof” – the only group performance on the show without Diana Ross. (Ross’ solo career was in fact announced on the program in their final television appearance together.)

Hit the jump for pre-order links and the full rundown of each DVD, and prepare yourself for one of Second Disc HQ’s favorite sounds: “The Sound of Young America”! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

September 1, 2011 at 14:44

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! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 25, 2011 at 15:15

A Double Dose of Soul

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Two newly-announced catalogue titles bring some rare tracks by R&B and soul legends to CD for the first time – and both have a bit of a Motown collection.

First up is Reel Music’s CD debut of Pressure Cookin’, the only LP cut by Labelle for RCA Records. Recorded a year before “Lady Marmalade” shot the group to success, this record features some intriguing highlights, including a medley of Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air” and Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” a tune (“Open Up Your Heart”) written by Stevie Wonder and a host of intriguing, Nona Hendryx-penned cuts like “Goin’ on a Holiday” and “(Can I Speak Before You Go to) Hollywoood,” an autobiographical tale of losing touch with other musicians on the road. There’s no bonus cuts, but new liner notes and a fresh remastering (approved by Hendryx and band manager Vicki Wickham) – plus the fact that this album has never been on CD before – should make this a worthy buy.

 Hip-o Select has geared up another rare LP for its first CD release. I Am My Brother’s Keeper is the first and only record cut by Jimmy and David Ruffin. David was, of course, the voice behind some of The Temptations’ greatest hits (“My Girl” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” being but two) and Jimmy was the younger brother who’d had a big hit of his own, the delightfully mournful “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.” I Am My Brother’s Keeper, featuring covers of “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” and a hit rendition of “Stand by Me,” makes its CD debut with two unreleased tracks from the Motown vault and new artwork and liner notes.

The Ruffin brothers’ effort is a limited edition of 7,000 copies while the Labelle disc is unlimited. Pre-order them here and here and check the track lists after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

May 18, 2010 at 01:11

El Sonido de la Joven América

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I’ve been waiting for this one for a long time: Hip-O Select is releasing a new compilation of classic Motown songs in a whole new way. Motown Around the World: The Classic Singles compiles 38 songs from the label as recorded in other languages for international markets. The Supremes, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, The Four Tops, The Velvelettes, Smokey Robinson and Edwin Starr sing the songs you know and love (plus a few folk ballads native to other countries) in Italian, Spanish, French and German, almost entirely preserved in their original single mixes. Trust me: if you love Motown, you’re going to flip when you hear some of this stuff.

Check out the full track list after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

February 17, 2010 at 17:26