Wednesday, 3 February 2021

VA ‎– Motown: The Complete No. 1's (2008)

Style: RnB/Swing, Disco, Soul, Funk, New Jack Swing
Label: Motown

CD 1&2

1-01.   The Miracles - Shop Around
1-02.   The Marvelettes - Please Mr. Postman
1-03.   The Contours - Do You Love Me?
1-04.   Mary Wells - You Beat Me To The Punch
1-05.   Mary Wells - Two Lovers
1-06.   The Miracles - You've Really Got A Hold On Me
1-07.   Little Stevie Wonder - Fingertips-Part 2
1-08.   Martha & The Vandellas - Heat Wave
1-09.   The Temptations -The Way You Do The Things You Do
1-10.   Mary Wells - My Guy
1-11.   The Supremes - Where Did Our Love Go
1-12.   The Supremes - Baby Love
1-13.   The Supremes - Come See About Me
1-14.   The Temptations - My Girl
1-15.   Walker & The All-Stars - Shotgun
1-16.   The Supremes - Stop! In The Name Of Love
1-17.   Marvin Gaye - I'll Be Doggone
1-18.   The Supremes - Back In My Arms Again
1-19.   Four Tops - I Can't Help Myself
1-20.   The Supremes - I Hear A Symphony
1-21.   Marvin Gaye - Ain't That Peculiar
1-22.   Stevie Wonder - Uptight (Everything's Alright)
1-23.   The Temptations - Get Ready
1-24.   Martha & The Vandellas - Dancing In The Street (bonus track)
1-25.   Marvin Gaye - How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) (bonus track)
1-26.   The Isley Brothers - This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You) (bonus track)
1-27.   Marvin Gaye - Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home) (bonus track)
2-01.   The Temptations - Ain't Too Proud To Beg
2-02.   Stevie Wonder - Blowin' In The Wind
2-03.   The Supremes - You Can't Hurry Love
2-04.   The Temptations - Beauty Is Only Skin Deep
2-05.   Four Tops - Reach Out I'll Be There
2-06.   The Supremes - You Keep Me Hangin' On
2-07.   The Temptations - (I Know) I'm Losing You
2-08.   The Marvelettes - The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game
2-09.   The Supremes - Love Is Here And Now You're Gone
2-10.   Martha & The Vandellas - Jimmy Mack
2-11.   The Supremes - The Happening
2-12.   Stevie Wonder - I Was Made To Love Her
2-13.   Gladys Knight & The Pips - I Heard It Through The Grapevine
2-14.   Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - I Second That Emotion
2-15.   The Temptations - I Wish It Would Rain
2-16.   Stevie Wonder - Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day
2-17.   Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing
2-18.   The Temptations - I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)
2-19.   Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - You're All I Need To Get By
2-20.   Diana Ross & The Supremes - Love Child
2-21.   Stevie Wonder - For Once In My Life
2-22.   Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Grapevine
2-23.   Diana Ross & The Supremes And The Temptations - I'm Gonna Make You Love Me
2-24.   Jimmy Ruffin - What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted (bonus track)
2-25.   Brenda Holloway - You've Made Me So Very Happy (bonus track)

CD 3&4 

3-01.   The Temptations - Run Away Child, Running Wild
3-02.   Marvin Gaye - Too Busy Thinking About My Baby
3-03.   Jr. Walker & The All-Stars - What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)
3-04.   The Temptations - I Can't Get Next To You
3-05.   The Originals - Baby I'm For Real
3-06.   Diana Ross & The Supremes - Someday We'll Be Together
3-07.   The Jackson 5 - I Want You Back
3-08.   Stevie Wonder - Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday
3-09.   The Jackson 5 - ABC
3-10.   Diana Ross - Reach Out And Touch (Somebody's Hand)
3-11.   Four Tops - It's All In The Game
3-12.   The Jackson 5 - The Love You Save
3-13.   Rare Earth - Get Ready
3-14.   The Temptations - Ball Of Confusion (That's What The World Is Today)
3-15.   Stevie Wonder - Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours
3-16.   Edwin Starr - War
3-17.   Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - The Tears Of A Clown (U.K. Version)
3-18.   Diana Ross - Ain't No Mountain High Enough
3-19.   The Jackson 5 - I'll Be There
3-20.   Stevie Wonder - Heaven Help Us All
3-21.   Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - The Tears Of A Clown (U.S. Version)
3-22.   The Supremes - Stoned Love
3-23.   Gladys Knight & The Pip - If I Were Your Woman
4-01.   The Jackson 5 - Mama's Pearl
4-02.   The Temptations - Just My Imagination (Running Away From Me)
4-03.   Marvin Gaye - What's Going On
4-04.   The Jackson 5 - Never Can Say Goodbye
4-05.   Marvin Gaye - Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)
4-06.   Diana Ross - I'm Still Waiting
4-07.   The Undisputed Truth - Smiling Faces Sometimes
4-08.   Marvin Gaye - Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)
4-09.   Michael Jackson - Got To Be There
4-10.   Michael Jackson - Rockin' Robin
4-11.   Michael Jackson - I Wanna Be Where You Are
4-12.   Michael Jackson - Ben
4-13.   The Temptations - Papa Was A Rollin' Stone
4-14.   Stevie Wonder - Superstition
4-15.   Gladys Knight & The Pips - Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)
4-16.   The Temptations - Masterpiece
4-17.   Stevie Wonder - You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
4-18.   Diana Ross - Touch Me In The Morning
4-19.   Marvin Gaye - Let's Get It On

CD 5&6

5-01.   Stevie Wonder - Higher Ground
5-02.   Eddie Kendricks - Keep On Truckin' (Part 1)
5-03.   Stevie Wonder - Living For The City
5-04.   The Temptations - Let Your Hair Down
5-05.   Eddie Kendricks - Boogie Down
5-06.   Diana Ross - Last Time I Saw Him
5-07.   The Jackson 5 - Dancing Machine
5-08.   The Miracles - Do It Baby
5-09.   Stevie Wonder - You Haven't Done Nothin'
5-10.   Stevie Wonder - Boogie On Reggae Woman
5-11.   The Temptations - Happy People
5-12.   Eddie Kendricks - Shoeshine Boy
5-13.   The Temptations - Shakey Ground
5-14.   Smokey Robinson - Baby That's Backatcha
5-15.   The Commodores - Slippery When Wet
5-16.   The Jackson 5 - Forever Came Today
5-17.   David Ruffin - Walk Away From Love
5-18.   Diana Ross - Theme From Mahagony (Do You Know Where You Going To)
5-19.   T.G. Sheppard - Devil In The Bottle
5-20.   T.G. Sheppard - Tryin' To Beat The Morning Home
6-01.   The Miracles - Love Machine (Part 1)
6-02.   Diana Ross - Love Hangover
6-03.   Marvin Gaye - I Want You
6-04.   The Commodores - Just To Be Close To You
6-05.   The Originals - Down To Love Town
6-06.   Thelma Houston - Don't Leave Me This Way
6-07.   Stevie Wonder - I Wish
6-08.   Marvin Gaye - Got To Give It Up (Part 1)
6-09.   Stevie Wonder - Sir Duke
6-10.   The Commodores - Easy
6-11.   High Inergy - You Can't Turn Me Off (In The Middle Of Turning Me On)
6-12.   The Commodores - Too Hot Ta Trot
6-13.   Rick James - You And I
6-14.   The Commodores - Three Times A Lady
6-15.   Diana Ross - The Boss
6-16.   The Commodores - Sail On
6-17.   The Commodores - Still
6-18.   Stevie Wonder - Send One Your Love
6-19.   Stevie Wonder - Pastime Paradise (bonus track)

CD 7&8

7-01.   Smokey Robinson - Cruisin'
7-02.   Jermaine Jackson - Let's Get Serious
7-03.   Diana Ross - I'm Coming Out
7-04.   Diana Ross - Upside Down
7-05.   Stevie Wonder - Master Blaster (Jammin')
7-06.   Smokey Robinson - Being With You
7-07.   Rick James - Give It To Me Baby
7-08.   Rick James - Super Freak
7-09.   Michael Jackson - One Day In Your Life
7-10.   Diana Ross & Lionel Richie - Endless Love
7-11.   The Commodores - Lady (You Bring Me Up)
7-12.   Stevie Wonder - That Girl
7-13.   Dazz Band - Let It Whip
7-14.   Charlene - I've Never Been To Me
7-15.   Stevie Wonder - Do I Do
7-16.   Stevie Wonder - Lately (bonus track)
8-01.   Lionel Richie - Truly
8-02.   Lionel Richie - You Are
8-03.   Lionel Richie - My Love
8-04.   DeBarge - All This Love
8-05.   Rick James - Cold Blooded
8-06.   Lionel Richie - All Night Long (All Night)
8-07.   DeBarge - Time Will Reveal
8-08.   Rockwell - Somebody's Watching Me
8-09.   Lionel Richie - Hello
8-10.   Lionel Richie - Stuck On You
8-11.   Stevie Wonder - I Just Called To Say I Love You
8-12.   Lionel Richie - Penny Lover
8-13.   The Commodores - Nightshift
8-14.   Mary Jane Girls - In My House
8-15.   DeBarge - Rhythm Of The Night
8-16.   Rick James - Glow
8-17.   El DeBarge With DeBarge - You Wear It Well
8-18.   Dennis Edwards Featuring Seidah Garrett - Don't Look Any Further (bonus track)

CD 9&10

  9-01.   Stevie Wonder - Part-Time Lover
  9-02.   Lionel Richie - Say You, Say Me
  9-03.   Stevie Wonder - Go Home
  9-04.   Val Young - If You Should Ever Be Lonely
  9-05.   Stevie Wonder - Overjoyed
  9-06.   El DeBarge - Who's Johnny
  9-07.   Lionel Richie - Dancing On The Ceiling
  9-08.   Lionel Richie - Love Will Conquer All
  9-09.   Lionel Richie - Ballerina Girl
  9-10.   Smokey Robinson - Just To See Her
  9-11.   Georgio - Tina Cherry
  9-12.   Stevie Wonder - Skeletons
  9-13.   Stevie Wonder - You Will Know
  9-14.   The Boys - Dial My Heart
  9-15.   The Boys - Lucky Charm
  9-16.   Today - Girl I Got My Eyes On You
  9-17.   Stacey Lattisaw With Johnny Gill - Where Do We Go From Here?
  9-18.   The Guinn Family - Dreamin' (bonus track)
10-01.   Johnny Gill - Rub You The Right Way
10-02.   Johnny Gill - My, My, My
10-03.   The Boys - Crazy
10-04.   Johnny Gill - Wrap My Body Tight
10-05.   Boyz II Men - It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday
10-06.   Shanice - I Love Your Smile
10-07.   Boyz II Men - Uhh Ahh
10-08.   Lionel Richie - Do It To Me
10-09.   Boyz II Men - End Of The Road
10-10.   Boyz II Men - I'll Make Love To You
10-11.   Boyz II Men - On Bended Knee
10-12.   Diana Ross - Take Me Higher
10-13.   Boyz II Men - 4 Seasons Of Loneliness
10-14.   Boyz II Men - A Song For Mama
10-15.   The Temptations - Stay
10-16.   Profyle - Liar
10-17.   Erykah Badu - Bag Lady

Smokey Robinson’s mama famously told the young singer-songwriter that he’d better shop around, but happily, those looking for the definitive chronicle of Smokey and Diana and Mary and Flo and Martha and Marvin and Stevie and co. need shop around no more.  To mark the label’s 60th anniversary, Motown: The Complete No. 1s is back in print in a slightly-expanded edition, and this 11-CD box set is, simply, one-stop shopping.  Impressively housed within a sturdy replica of 2648 West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, Michigan, this collection features all of the company’s chart-toppers between The Miracles’ “Shop Around” (1960) and Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady” (2000) for a total of 208 songs compiled from various charts and including a handful of bonus tracks that hit No. 1 via samples or cover versions.  (How did “Dancing in the Street” not reach the top until David Bowie and Mick Jagger’s cover?  Thankfully, the original is here.)  The result is positively staggering, not only detailing the history of pop music in the second half of the 20th century but illustrating how Motown indeed changed the world.  As Smokey wrote in his 2008 introduction to the first release of the box, “These songs helped do away with all sorts of stupid man-made prejudices and the negative ideas people had about each other, because they gave people something in common, something they could all love.”  The songs emanating from Hitsville, USA and its various branches are still loved today.

The classic Motown sound, as we think of it today, is in full blossom on the first two discs of the box set.  An optimistic, can-do, competitive spirit infused the finely-crafted songwriting by talents like Robinson, the team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland, Norman Whitfield, Mickey Stevenson, Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, Ron Miller, Frank Wilson, Deke Richards, and of course, label founder Berry Gordy himself.  (Individually or collectively, H-D-H were responsible for 19 out of 52 chart-toppers on Discs 1 and 2.  Smokey Robinson wrote or co-wrote 12.)  Even more impressively, most of these talents were producing their own material, as well.

The loose collective known as The Funk Brothers brought those timeless yet truly of-their-time songs to life with infectious percussion, honking brass, lithe bass, crisp guitar, and rollicking keys.  Their names – including but not limited to bassists James Jamerson and Bob Babbitt; pianists Joe Hunter, Johnny Griffith, and Earl Van Dyke; drummers Richard “Pistol” Allen, William “Benny” Benjamin and Uriel Jones; percussionists Jack Ashford and Eddie “Bongo” Brown; and guitarists Robert White, Eddie Willis, Joe Messina, and Dennis Coffey – might have been unknown, but their sound incorporating pop, soul, rock, jazz, gospel, and funk was unmistakable.  Then, the artists sprinkled their own magic on the tight tracks: Mary Wells’ blend of smoothness and sass, Smokey’s otherworldly falsetto, Diana Ross’ coquettish sensuality, David Ruffin’s emotional growl; Levi Stubbs’ fiery power; Marvin Gaye’s insinuating croon.  The combination of these elements was alchemical and the results singular.  Classics like “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “My Girl,” and “My Guy” need no introduction, even today.  It might have been called The Sound of Young America, but the Motown sound was for the young and the young at heart, universally breaking barriers of age, race, and gender.

The first song on The Complete No. 1s to have been written outside of the Motown stable, Stevie Wonder’s 1966 cover of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” reflected the social conscience that pulsed throughout Motown’s records, whether subtly or overtly.  The likes of Martha and The Vandellas’ “Jimmy Mack” and Diana Ross and The Supremes’ “Love Child” paved the way for such seismic, era-defining singles as The Temptations’ “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” Edwin Starr’s “War,” and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” and “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler).”  But even as Motown was changing with the tumultuous times, culminating in the 1972 move from Detroit to Los Angeles, its songs offered comfort, healing, love, and joy via the gorgeous harmonies of The Originals’ “Baby, I’m for Real,” the big, irresistible groove of Jr. Walker and The All-Stars’ “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love),” the triumph of Diana Ross’ “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” the beautiful romance of The Temptations’ “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me),” or the jubilant, youthful sounds of The Jackson 5 with “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “I’ll Be There,” “Mama’s Pearl,” and “Never Can Say Goodbye.”  Between 1970 and 1973, as heard on Discs 3 and 4, an expanded Motown roster was welcoming artists like The Undisputed Truth (the moody “Smiling Faces Sometimes”) and Rare Earth (a psych-rock take on The Temptations’ Smokey Robinson-penned “Get Ready”).  The label weathered the loss of the Four Tops to ABC/Dunhill, but saw The Temptations, The Miracles, Stevie Wonder, the solo Ross and Ross-less Supremes, Gaye, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and the solo Michael Jackson all score major successes.

Discs 5-6 (1973-1979) saw Wonder and Ross, as well as Robinson, Gaye, and The Temptations, reliably continue to rack up hits.  Room was also made for more surprising names like country singer-songwriter T.G. Sheppard, represented by the back-to-back No. 1s “Devil in the Bottle” and “Tryin’ to Beat the Morning Home” on the short-lived Melodyland imprint.  Motown notched one of its most enduring disco hits by looking eastward to its so-called competitors in Philadelphia for Thelma Houston’s sizzling “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” co-written by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Cary Gilbert, and first recorded by Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes.  Ross’ epic “Love Hangover” and “The Boss” and Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up (Part I)” likewise filled the dancefloors.  The biggest impact on Motown history during this period, however, was arguably made by Tuskegee, Alabama’s Commodores.  Scoring Number Ones was easy as Sunday morning for Lionel Richie, William King, Walter Orange, Milan Williams, and Thomas McClary.  Rick James, previously a Motown artist as part of The Mynah Birds alongside Neil Young (!), returned to the company with a vengeance, making his first appearance on the box with 1978’s “You and I.”

If there was ever any doubt that the stars of Motown could adapt, the early 1980s rendered such doubts moot.  Electronics and synthesizers were in the air – an area in which Stevie Wonder had long been pioneering.  The label’s first chart-topper of 1980, Smokey Robinson’s “Cruisin’,” was a slice of deliciously breezy escapism.  The same year, Miss Ross teamed with Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of CHIC for the empowering anthem “I’m Coming Out” and rhythmic “Upside Down.”  Rick James’ “Super Freak,” later to form the basis of MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This,” topped the Dance/Disco chart in the U.S. but also received a Grammy nomination for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.  As ever, the Motown sound couldn’t fit into an easy box.

Lionel Richie’s first solo appearance on The Complete No. 1s comes with “Endless Love,” his soaring duet with Ross; he dominates the eighth disc with seven tracks including “Hello” and “All Night Long (All Night).”  Ron Miller, co-author of previous No. 1s like “Touch Me in the Morning” and Stevie Wonder’s “Heaven Help Us All” and “Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday,” wrote the single-named Charlene’s touching “I’ve Never Been to Me.”  Wonder himself continued to follow his own remarkable muse, reinvigorating genres from reggae (“Master Blaster (Jammin’)” to pure pop (“I Just Called to Say I Love You”).  Detroit family group DeBarge returned Motown to its roots, and Michael Jackson even returned to the fold to lend his uncredited vocals to Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me.”  Much as The Supremes had pressed on without Diana Ross, The Commodores survived the loss of Lionel Richie with “Nightshift,” a tribute to their fallen colleagues Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson.

If not for the titanic accomplishment of decades prior, it would be easy to view the 1980s as a golden age for Motown, what with the aforementioned tunes and other indelible Number Ones such as Stevie Wonder’s “Part Time Lover” and “Overjoyed,” DeBarge’s “Rhythm of the Night,” Smokey Robinson’s “Just to See Her,” and Lionel Richie’s “Say You, Say Me” and “Dancing on the Ceiling.”  A younger crop of artists populates the latter discs of this set, most notably the California group The Boys, Johnny Gill, and Boyz II Men.  Producers like L.A. Reid and Babyface and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis nudged Motown towards hip-hop – soon to become the dominant sound in R&B – but the production teams found, in Boyz II Men, a true successor to the lush harmony groups of Motown’s early years even as “legacy artists” like Diana Ross (back at Motown after a stint at RCA) and The Temptations still scored chartbusting hits.  The original box set ended with Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady” from 2000.  While the Texas-born singer employed samples, beats, and harsh language far removed from the Motown sound, the song’s message of “Bet ya love can make it better” could have come right out of Smokey’s songbook.

The 2019 iteration of the box adds a 6-song bonus disc of odds and ends.  “Who’s Lovin’ You” was a B-side to not one, but two, Number One hits: The Miracles’ “Shop Around” and The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.”  Hence, the Smokey-penned tune gets a special dispensation to appear here.  Michael, Jermaine, Tito, Marlon, and Jackie’s ebullient rendition of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” a chart-topper on the Billboard Christmas survey and still a radio staple every holiday season, was left off the original box as was Stevie Wonder’s 1995 Adult R&B No. 1 ballad “For Your Love.”  They’ve taken their rightful place here.  The set concludes with Eric Kupper’s energetic dance remixes of Diana Ross’ “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “I’m Coming Out/Upside Down” which went to the top spot on the Dance Club Songs chart in 2017 and 2018, respectively – underscoring the eternal appeal of the artist, productions, and indeed, the Motown label.

The original box helmed by producer Harry Weinger, associate producer Andrew Skurow, and executive producer Pat Lawrence has been painstakingly re-pressed here, right down to the squarebound 100-page book filled with photos and detailed annotations for each track.  Kevin Reeves’ superlative mastering has been retained on the set proper, while Phil Nicolo has mastered the bonus disc.  As before, the discs are housed in colorful digipaks; the bonus disc is in a sleeve that’s viewable through the window of 2648 West Grand.

Motown means something different to each generation.  Happily, there’s something for everyone on The Complete No. 1s – a true testament to the strength of Berry Gordy’s vision of creating great music for all people.  How sweet it is.
Joe Marchese / The Second Disc

Quiet Sun ‎– Mainstream (1975)

Style: Art Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Prog Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Expression Records, Virgin, Editions EG

A1.   Sol Caliente
A2.   Trumpets With Motherhood
A3.   Bargain Classics
A4.   R.F.D.
B1.   Mummy Was An Asteroid, Daddy Was A Small Non-Stick Kitchen Utensil
B2.   Trot
B3.   Rongwrong

Synthesizer, Effects – Eno
Back-up Voices – Ian MacCormick
Drums, Percussion, Keyboards, Voice – Charles Hayward
Electric Bass, Bass, Voice – Bill MacCormick
Electric Guitar, Treated Guitars, Electric Piano – Phil Manzanera
Electric Piano, Grand Piano, Electric Organ, Synthesizer – Dave Jarrett
Produced By – Quiet Sun

Phil Manzarena invited his old pals from Quiet Sun, his pre-Roxy Music band, to at long last create the album they'd always wanted to. For four guys who hadn't been in the same band for some three years, the group manage to gel remarkably well, and the album avoids sounding like a throwback thanks to the production assistance of Brian Eno.

Manzarena's distinctive guitar sound is what sets this one apart from many Canterbury albums, but the group as a whole all have a contribution to make and craft a startlingly original album. One can only wonder the impact this would have had on prog history had it come out in the group's prime; the amazingly titled Mummy Was An Asteroid, Daddy Was A Small Non-Stick Kitchen Utensil ends with a furious burst of aggression and the punkish vocals on the closing Rongwrong makes the album at points sound like an arty post-punk piece as well as a lovingly crafted prog gem. Although it was surely a nostalgia exercise for all involved, somehow the album still managed to be years ahead of its time. Amazing.