Various ‎– The Best Of Motown 1960s, Volume 1

Label:
Motown ‎– 4400161592
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CD, Album, Compilation, Remastered
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Tracklist Hide Credits

1 Martha & The Vandellas* Dancing In The Street
Producer – William "Mickey" Stevenson*Written By – William "Mickey" Stevenson-Marvin Gaye-Ivy Jo HunterWritten-By – Marvin Gaye, William "Mickey" Stevenson-Ivy Jo Hunter*
2:40
2 The Supremes Baby Love
Producer – Brian Holland And Lamont Dozier*Written-By – Brian Holland-Lamont Dozier-Edward Holland Jr.*
2:37
3 The Miracles Shop Around
Producer – Berry GordyWritten By – Berry Gordy-William "Smokey" RobinsonWritten-By – Berry Gordy, William "Smokey" Robinson*
2:50
4 The Temptations My Girl
Producer – Smokey RobinsonWritten By – William "Smokey" Robinson-Ronald WhiteWritten-By – Ronald White, William "Smokey" Robinson*
2:45
5 Mary Wells My Guy
Producer – Smokey RobinsonWritten-By – William "Smokey" Robinson*
2:54
6 Marvin Gaye How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)
Producer – Brian Holland And Lamont Dozier*Written-By – Brian Holland-Lamont Dozier-Edward Holland Jr.*
3:01
7 Four Tops I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)
Producer – Brian Holland And Lamont Dozier*Written-By – Brian Holland-Lamont Dozier-Edward Holland Jr.*
2:46
8 Jr. Walker & The All Stars* Shotgun
Producer – Berry Gordy, Lawrence HornWritten-By – Autry DeWalt
3:05
9 The Marvelettes Please Mr. Postman
Producer – Brainbert*Written By – Georgia Dobbins-William Garrett-Brian Holland-Robert Bateman-Freddie GormanWritten-By – Brian Holland-Robert Bateman*, Freddie Gorman, Georgia Dobbins, William Garrett
2:30
10 Barrett Strong Money (That's What I Want)
Producer – Berry GordyWritten By – Berry Gordy-Janie BradfordWritten-By – Berry Gordy, Janie Bradford
2:38
11 The Contours Do You Love Me
Producer – Berry GordyWritten-By – Berry Gordy
2:55
12 Gladys Knight & The Pips* I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Producer – Norman WhitfieldWritten By – Norman Whitfield-Barrett StrongWritten-By – Barrett Strong, Norman Whitfield
2:45

Companies, etc.

Credits

Notes

Digitally remastered at Universal Mastering Studios-East. All songs previously released on the Motown, Tamla, Gordy and Soul labels.

Photographs courtesy of Motown Archives. Front cover clockwise: The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations. Back cover clockwise: The Supremes, Gladys Knight & The Pips.

℗ © 2001 Motown Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc. Manufactured and distributed in Canada by Universal Music.

Track 1: #2 Pop (no R&B chart).
Track 2: #1 Pop (no R&B chart).
Track 3: #2 Pop, #1 R&B.
Track 4: #1 Pop, #1 R&B.
Track 5: #1 Pop (no R&B chart).
Track 6: #6 Pop, #4 R&B.
Track 7: #1 Pop, #1 R&B.
Track 8: #4 Pop, #1 R&B.
Track 9: #1 Pop, #1 R&B.
Track 10: #23 Pop, #2 R&B.
Track 11: #3 Pop, #1 R&B.
Track 12: #2 Pop, #1 R&B.

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Barcode: 0 44001 61592 4
  • Matrix / Runout (Inner Ring): L387 4400161592 #11020Y10 11
  • Mastering SID Code (Inner Ring): L387

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IanPhillips1979

IanPhillips1979

May 7, 2016

Who would have guessed that when Berry Gordy Jr set up a small record company called Motown with an $800 loan, it would become one of the world's leading record labels. Bridging the gap between black and white culture, Motown was the pioneering all-black record company, home to so many legends such as Diana Ross and the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Four Tops and several more.

Compiling a collection of Motown's definitive classics on one disc is virtually impossible, and on this compilation there is actually only twelve featured. However, this is just the first volume of Motown's 60s classics and every one of these tracks are essential and lie among the greatest pop and soul classics in music history:

1. DANCING IN THE STREET - MARTHA & THE VANDELLAS

This was proudly referred to by Motown insiders as ‘our national anthem’. The history of Dancing In The Street dates back to 1964. The song was penned by Mickey Stevenson at home after being inspired by the sight of black and white children all playing happily together under the huge spray of a burst water hydrant. While the song was being formed, Ivy Jo Hunter and Marvin Gaye were present. It was Marvin who inadvertently came up with the title Dancing In The Street while making an off-hand comment and for which he bargained a 25% royalty.

A demo was recorded which carried a vocal by Marvin Gaye, with the backing track recorded on 22 May 1964, featuring Marvin on piano, Joe Messina on Telecaster, James Jamerson on bass and, in the absence of Benny Benjamin, Fred Waites on drums. In a moment of inspiration, Ivy Jo Hunter hauled some car tyre chains into the studio to make a sensational crashing percussion, achieved by continually slamming them against a piece of wood. It’s been said that by the end of the session his hands were bleeding! (This method was later employed on another renowned Martha & The Vandellas classic, Nowhere To Run )

It was actually first offered to Kim Weston to record, who turned it down. Once Martha Reeves came into the fold it was almost inconceivable to imagine anyone but her recording the song: She ripped into the song with conviction, sounding so fiery, passionate and soulful, delivering one of her best-ever vocal performances.

The song has been analysed as intended to incite a riot, although all parties involved vehemently denied this allegation. The track is simply joyous and is really about people uniting in fun. Released in 1964, with There He Is (At My Door) as the B-side, the song fell just one slot short of the top spot on the pop chart and #8 R&B in the States. Surprisingly, in the UK it stopped at #28. However, when re-released in January 1969, with Quicksand as the new B-side, it flew up to #4.

2. BABY LOVE - THE SUPREMES

After the major British invasion on the American charts in 1964, The Supremes were by far the biggest-selling American group. Their next single, Baby Love, mirrored Where Did Our Love Go. The lyrics were actually based on Lamont Dozier's first serious relationship, the narration reading like a crying plea to a selfish, uncaring lover. It's almost child-like in its simplicity.

The track was first recorded on 24 July 1964, during which time Where Did Our Love Go was heading to the top of the charts. When first presented to Berry Gordy, it got the thumbs-down from him, as he thought it lacked commercial potential. Beginning in sedate tempo, it had none of the usual Motown gimmicks that hooked the listener from the outset.

Lamont Dozier quoted in The Supremes 2000 box set: “It was originally cut slower than Where Did Our Love Go, and Mr. Gordy felt it should be at least as fast because it had been so successful.”
Bearing this in mind, Holland-Dozier-Holland crafted a new introduction where Earl Van Dyke's swirling piano, hand-clapping and a bass-cymbal figure throb lead to an abrupt stop accentuated by a bang of the drum before Diana's trademark 'Ooh-ooh' backed by foot stomps as a nod to its predecessor. The tempo was rearranged into something considerably more sprightly and pop-flavoured, despite the lyrics conveying a tortured soul. By the time it reaches the second chorus, James Jamerson's bass-licks pump up through the horns and guitars, enlarging the arrangement. The Supremes’ vocals were added on 13 August, and the single was released in September.

Though sounding distinctly, and intentionally, similar to Where Did Our Love Go, Baby Love was an even bigger success. Replacing Manfred Mann's Do Wah Diddy, Diddy, it remained at #1 for four weeks (the longest run at the top for a Supremes single) before hitting #1 on the other side of the Atlantic, making The Supremes the very first girl group in history to top the British Singles Chart.

Baby Love, said to be a personal favourite of Berry Gordy's, was three minutes of utter perfection. Diana's sensitive, vulnerable delivery is so touchingly sweet, sincere and warm that it's impossible to find any flaws. Florence and Mary deliver memorable, almost hypnotic, backing vocals, complementing Diana's yearning lead. The song went on to be nominated the following year for a Grammy in the Best Rhythm & Blues Recording category. Like Where Did Our Love Go, Baby Love is another major, important, musical milestone, and both these historical pop/soul classics have been ranked in Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. The Supremes were now Motown's biggest-selling act and were swiftly elevated to the company's number-one priority. At one point, Berry Gordy even served a memo to his staff, dictating that everything released by The Supremes would be nothing but number-one hits!

3. SHOP AROUND - SMOKEY ROBINSON & THE MIRACLES

Written by Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy Jr, Shop Around bore the distinction of becoming Motown's very first R&B chart-topper. The song had originally been intended for Barrett Strong as a follow-up to his hit Money (That's What I Want). Berry Gordy considered it to be more suited to the style of Smokey Robinson and his group The Miracles and, therefore, persuaded the group to record it instead. Following its initial release in September 1960, this became The Miracles fourth American single, backed with Who's Loving You as the B-side. However, it was hastily withdrawn from the market shortly after going on sale. Berry decided he wanted a tighter, punchier and more rounded production of the recording. When the single was re-issued, containing the familiar version we all know and love, it flew up to #2 Billboard Pop, and in the early months of 1961 sat pretty at the top of the R&B Chart for two months. This also marked their first release in Britain, released on the London American label in February'61. It's an immensely catchy recording, the strident bass-line capturing the early Motown sound at its best, while Smokey Robinson delivers a terrific lead with his sensual falsetto, complemented by a dazzling backdrop of harmonies from the Miracles.

4. MY GIRL - THE TEMPTATIONS

This landmark Temptations classic was a shrewdly conceived updating of Mary Wells' My Guy, also penned by Smokey Robinson. Smokey has, on numerous occasions, stated that the song was tailor-made to fit the rough and ready vocal style of David Ruffin, although at that point in time Ruffin wasn't considered the lead singer in the group. Contradicting this statement are Ruffin's claims that the song was written for his daughter, while Claudette Robinson (Smokey's then-wife) having gone on record saying it was intended for her. Needless to say, the results are utterly thrilling. Smokey tutoured The Temptations through their vocal parts including the terrific vocal trade-offs on the track's chorus, where each member in turn sings the title. Beautifully orchestrated, including swirling strings and James Jamerson's bass licks, My Girl proudly topped both the American pop and R&B charts, and has since gone on to be one of Motown's most famous classics.

5. MY GUY - MARY WELLS

Motown's first leading lady, Mary Wells, managed to score Motown its first British top forty entry (after forty-one releases) with this sumptuous classic, penned by one of the label's most prolific songwriters, Smokey Robinson. Recorded on 3 March 1964, My Guy was released just ten days later. The song is an uncomplicated statement of loyalty in love. Bearing a light but immensely catchy arrangement, the carefree rise-and-fall melodicism along with Wells' sweet, sensuous and emotive vocals, helped this rapidly become an American number one smash hit, while landing at #5 in the UK. A favourite of The Beatles (with whom she toured, at their request, as their support act), Mary Wells was at the height of her success and popularity at this point, easily being Motown's biggest female act. However, she was lured away from the label, signing a quarter-of-a-million dollar contract with Twentieth Century Fox in September 1964. In this new venture they also promised Mary a move into the movie business. Sadly, for what seemed such a lucrative deal, the movie career never materialised and she would release only a sporadic sprinkling of minor hit singles in the ensuing years, as well as other moves to different record labels. Still, Wells had most certainly made her mark and will always be remembered and acknowledged as Motown's very first leading lady.

6. HOW SWEET IT IS (TO BE LOVED BY YOU) - MARVIN GAYE

This was Marvin's most successful single up to that point in 1964, shifting over 900,000 copies. Created by the genius trio Holland-Dozier-Holland after Eddie Holland had heard the phrase used on a television show, the track was rapidly laid down with Gaye reading from lyrics sheets on the studio floor. A pure pop confection, boasting some wonderful piano playing, Gaye's uplifting vocals complement the buoyant, feel-good tone impeccably. Although Gaye wanted to concentrate on being a more "serious" artist, this slice of commercial pop was a joyous recording and one that Gaye himself loved. Some years later, fellow Motown act Junior Walker recorded a far rockier renedition of How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) which proved to be even more successful than Marvin's.

A critic for AllMusic described Marvin's version as a "radiant pop confection", also noting that it was far from one of his usual songs which often reflected his own personal demons.

7. I CAN'T HELP MYSELF - THE FOUR TOPS

Another landmark for the Four Tops, this track had been earmarked for the group by Lamont Dozier in its early stages, with composer Lamont Dozier approaching Duke Fakir in the audience of a Temptations concert and taking him home to play the song through. At first the song was immersed in a dark, sombre mood but lacked commercial potential. So the track was re-worked into something considerably more buoyant, including the light, vernacular words 'Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch', which was derived from Lamont Dozier's grandfather, who would use the refrain as a greeting to all visitors to his home beauty shop. Set to an infectious, pulsating beat, the track employs the use of a bass guitar which remains prominent in the mix, shattering tambourines, among others. Instantly memorable, with a rocketing lead vocal from Levi Stubbs, I Can't Help Myself raced to pole position on both the American pop and soul charts.

8. SHOTGUN - JUNIOR WALKER & THE ALL STARS

Keeping up with developments in black American music in 1964-65 with the rise of Atlantic Records and Stax Volt, Berry Gordy shrewdly set up another subsidary label, Soul, for music aimed more at a predominantly black audience. Artists on this new label included the likes of Gladys Knight & The Pips, Jimmy Ruffin, Shorty Long and Junior Walker & The All Stars. Junior Walker was single-handedly bringing the saxophone back into popularity in the R&B world in the early 1960s. His raw, more street-wise sound was fresh and exciting, and of all his recordings Shotgun is, perhaps, his most definitive. Released in 1965, the compelling composition crossed over to the pop top five, whilst racing into pole position on the R&B chart. A pure masterpiece, the prominent saxophone playing being used to exhilarating effect.

9. PLEASE MR. POSTMAN - THE MARVELETTES

The Marvelettes hold the distinguished honour of delivering Motown its first American pop chart-topper, putting the fledgling record company firmly on the map. They were also the label's first successful girl-group, long before Martha & The Vandellas and The Supremes got anywhere near the chart! The Marvelettes were a teen quartet (before eventually being reduced to a trio), with Gladys Horton as the main lead singer. Please Mr. Postman was offered to the group as a potential hit, the first track taking on a bluesy feel as opposed to the adolescent pop-soul style it became. Marvelette Georgia Dobbins made some adjustments before further being refined by Robert Bateman, Brian Holland and Freddie Gorman. Recorded in the summer of 1961, Please Mr. Postman was one of the first Motown tracks to be recorded on Mike McLean's newly built three-track console.

Carrying a high-school style in its steady sound, enlivened with chirpy teenage innocence, Please Mr. Postman features an infectious vocal from the elegant Gladys Horton, her performance brimming with yearning and youthful angst. The recording is also notable for featuring a young Marvin Gaye on drums. Though it has been famously covered by the likes of The Beatles and The Carpenters, the definitive version, without a doubt, belongs to The Marvelettes. One of Motown's true defining classics, yet at this point it had yet to truly make its mark in Britain: It was released in the UK on the Fontana label, but failed to chart.

10. MONEY (THAT'S WHAT I WANT) - BARRETT STRONG

Frequently covered over the years, including by the likes of The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, Money (That's What I Want) was Motown's very first hit single; it is also undoubtedly the definitive version of the song. Written by Strong, Janie Bradford and Berry Gordy, the song sounds tailor-made to fit the rough and ready vocal style of Barrett Strong and has a strong bluesy feel despite its overly buoyant arrangement. Solid Motown gold!

11. DO YOU LOVE ME? - THE CONTOURS

What a classic we have here! By early 1962 Motown was enjoying huge success and Berry Gordy was more than ready to expand his horizons even further with the launch of the subsidary label Gordy (he would also set up several other subsidary label's over the course of time). Gordy's fourth American single was The Contours' third, composed by Mr. Gordy himself and originally intended as a vehicle for The Temptations. The group were rebellious and boisterous, their stage act drawing hysterics from audiences. The quirky style of Do You Love Me suited their rough-and-ready style down to the ground. The group tear into this song with such adrenalin-fuelled conviction, perfectly complementing its rip-roaring arrangement which is far from typical Motown. As most will know, this song took on a whole new lease of life in the late 80s when it was featured in the blockbusting film Dirty Dancing. Back in 1962 on its original release, it climbed its way up to #3 on the US Billboard Hot 100, while flying all the way to the top on the R&B Chart. It was also covered by British groups the Dave Clark Five and Brian Poole & The Tremeloes (who scored a UK no.1 hit with their version) but none of these pop-washed, watered-down takes on the song matched the razor-sharp immediacy and dynamic quality of The Contours' truly thrilling original.

12. I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE - MARVIN GAYE

A survey carried out on the British public in 2014 saw Marvin Gaye's I Heard It Through The Grapevine being declared Britain's Most-Loved Motown recording (closely followed by Diana Ross's Ain't No Mountain High Enough and Jimmy Ruffin's What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted ). Yet it was a track that took over eighteen months to be released as a single! The early-1967 backing track had been crafted with The Temptations in mind. Gaye would lay down his vocals on 10 April 1967, but it would take over a year before it made its way out into the public domain and even then was only as an album filler. In the interim it was recorded and released by Gladys Knight & The Pips who scored a huge hit with it.

The backing track is notable for its rather sedate tempo, writer and producer Norman Whitfield opting for far more penetrating sound than initially conceived. The recording sessions ran over four days, the ensemble band recorded live: You can clearly hear the rattling wires on Benny Benjamin's snare drum on that haunting intro, intertwining seamlessly with Johnny Griffith's calmly concentrated electric piano. Eddie Willis and Joe Messina's electric guitar playing, coupled with Jack Ashford's insistent tambourine, the 20-second introduction is undoubtedly one of Motown's most memorable and instantly grabbing introductions. Once it kicks in to the main body of the song, Gaye lets rip with a gut-wrenching, agonising vocal, riding effortlessly across James Jamerson's upright bass. The story of the narrative is actually told in the musical track, the rattling percussion lurking in its doorways and a group of females gossiping giving the impression of a crowd of onlookers snooping gratutiously on Marvin's crushed pride.

Tucked away on Gaye's In The Groove album, the track's electrifying intensity generated substantial interest, Chicago DJ Phil Jones spinning the song on his radio show which further provoked a stir by his listeners. As its solid reputation as an outstanding track spread, Motown finally released I Heard It Through The Grapevine as a single in November 1968 and watched it fly to the top of the US Billboard pop and soul charts. Then when released in early 1969 in the UK, it repeated its success by zooming to no.1 on the official British Singles Chart.