Tag Archives: Motown Records

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (1967)

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On this day (20 April) 50 years ago, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell released ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’. The song had been held back by writers Ashford & Simpson from the likes of Dusty Springfield as the their strongest case for entry to Motown. They knew they had a gold-plated disc on their hands. And they were right; they secured a contract with the Detroit-baed label and the song’s success led to a string of more Ashford & Simpson-penned duets (including ‘Two Can Have A Party‘, ‘You’re All I Need to Get By’, ‘Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing’, and ‘Your Precious Love’). Bliss.

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Diana Ross & The Supremes and The Temptations ‎- I’m Gonna Make You Love Me (1968)

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The Supremes & The Temptations

Some Friday morning soul. ‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me’ was released by Motown as part of Diana Ross & The Supremes Join The Temptations ‎– a collaboration between Motown’s two best selling groups that the label released in 1968. Written by Kenneth Gamble and Jerry Ross, the song was originally a hit for Dionne Warwick’s sister, Dee Dee. Have a great weekend.

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Odyssey – Our Lives Are Shaped By What We Love (1972)

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Royce Jones

Before Royce Jones joined Steely Dan, he shared vocal duties with Billy Pierce and Kathleen Warren during his time at 7-piece folk-funksters Odyssey (not to be confused with their namesake, the disco trio from NYC). On ‘Our Lives Are Shaped By What We Love’, Warren also plays piano and vibes, Warner Schwebke plays bass, Don Peake and Don Dacus play guitars and Gene Pello plays drums. In 1972, the song featured on their only album on Mowest, the commercially disastrous Californian arm of Motown. But this song is a classic rare groove.

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Freda Payne – Band Of Gold (1970)

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Freda Payne

The Motown house band, Funk Brothers, also surreptitiously played on ‘Band of Gold’. The song was written for Freda Payne by legendary Motown songwriters Holland–Dozier–Holland and released on their Invictus label. By 1970, H-D-H had had fallen out with Motown boss Berry Gordy Jr. in grand style over a dispute about royalties. So what were they doing instead? No less than writing and producing the seminal proto disco cut. Have a great weekend.

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Brenda Holloway – Every Little Bit Hurts (1964)

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Brenda Holloway

Mod, mod, mod. After Motown producer and writer Hal Davis secured Brenda Holloway an audition with his boss Berry Gordy Jr., the singer was offered a recording contract. Her first session saw her record the magnetic and melancholic ‘Every Little Bit Hurts’ on Motown Records’ Tamla label. It became a mod anthem.

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Teena Marie – Portuguese Love (1981)

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Teena Marie

Mary Christine Brockert (aka Teena Marie) had calibre: ex girlfriend of Rick James; jazz funker; and highest selling white artist on Motown in her day… and then she did this. ‘Portuguese Love’ was off her last album with Motown, It Must Be Magic. It all ended in an acrimonious legal battle with Motown, but a guilty pleasure is exactly that. The sound of Monty’s, Vale De Lobo, September 2014.

(BTW, listening to ‘Square Biz’ off the same album is like listening to the blue-eyed soul of Wham.)

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Willie Hutch – Baby Come Home (1976)

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Willie Hutch

While Willie Hutch’s most enduring work is his soundtrack for The Mack in 1973, as sampled by UGK (‘I Choose You’) and The Chemical Brothers (‘Brother’s Gonna Work It Out’), I choose ‘Baby Come Home’ and its infectious groove. It features on his Concert in Blues album for Motown and then reappeared 30 years later as a truly wonderful crate digger’s sample in Ghostface Killah’s ‘Back Like That’. Have a great weekend.

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Mandré – Solar Flight (Opus 1) (1977)

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Mandre

At a time when Daft Punk is everwhere, lest we forget Michael Andre’ Lewis. Last year, the techno-jazz-funk pioneer passed. In 1976, he signed with Motown and took on the persona of Mandré, the mystery artist from outer space. Always performing from behind a futuristic helmet, Mandré experimented with funk, soul, jazz, and disco, which he laced with synthesized rhythms. The instrumental ‘Solar Flight (Opus 1)’ features on Mandre’s self-titled debut album. Space man!

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The Steinways – My Heart’s Not In It Anymore (1966)

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The Steinways

Dance comes in many forms. Continuing the run of vintage sounds from 1966, next up we have this rare Northern Soul classic from The Steinways. Despite the downbeat title, ‘My Heart’s Not In It Anymore’ has got a contrasting upbeat rhythm to match the best of Motown. And the YouTube video makes for a surreal partnership. Happy New Year!

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Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Better Things To Do (2010)

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I am partial to my soul music: Motown, Atlantic, Stax, Philly and the rarer stuff too. When I first heard this song, I thought that it was a new find from the 60s. And that’s a compliment in my book. This is no borrowing; this is pure revival. Apparently they used the technology of the day to get the sound. It’s a throwback and I like it a lot. Sharon Jones’s vocals are forceful, the band is tight and the tune is oh-so-catchy.

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