As you probably know by now, Motown Records is 50 today! Now, Musick wouldn’t be a reputable blog without doffing it’s proverbial cap to one of the greatest record labels of all time, a breeding ground for talent unlike anything seen before or since. I remember seeing some early footage of Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 and being flawed not only by the exuberance of his performance but also the immediacy of the songs, as if each one had been sewn into my DNA. Immediate classics is something that sums up the heyday of Motown, from a young Stevie Wonder to Gladys Knight to Marvin Gaye pleading ‘Let’s Get It On’.
There are too many highlights to pick from of course, so here are some of Musick’s absolute favourites:
Jackson 5 ‘I Want You Back’
It makes you smile, right?
The Supremes ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’
Such a unique voice, and a brilliantly joyful piece of music. ERASE the Phil Collins version from your mind immediately.
The Velvelettes ‘Needle In A Haystack’
Though the band never quite reached the commercial heights of some of their peers, this song remains a slice of genius.
Stevie Wonder ‘Living For The City’
Taken from the classic Innervisions album, Wonder would enjoy an unparalleled purple patch on Motown in the 1970s.
Marvin Gaye ‘What’s Going On’
The beguiling Here, My Dear may be his finest artistic statement, but What’s Going On runs it close. The title track was released amongst much internal wrangling within Motown, with owner Berry Gordy believing it would flop. The perfect example of artist knowing better then employer.
I expect a similar tribute to V2 records in 40 years time, giving us all the chance to celebrate the music of the Stereophonics, Liberty X and The Datsuns.