mary wilson

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Various: Motown 50 (Universal)

Various: Motown 50 (Universal)

It would be very easy to acclaim this -- 50 of Motown's greatest hits over three discs to celebrate the classic soul label's 50th anniversary. Wow, what's not to like, huh? But then you listen to it: the copy that has arrived for Elsewhere consideration (and presumably the one in New Zealand stores) isn't the UK edition but something else....

MARY WILSON OF THE SUPREMES INTERVIEWED (2009): The Dreamgirl goes on

MARY WILSON OF THE SUPREMES INTERVIEWED (2009): The Dreamgirl goes on

There are many things that stars of stage and screen these days seem very happy to talk about: their former or current addictions, the assault case, the booze-fuelled nights, that bitch/bastard of an ex, their fall from grace and so on. Then there is the taboo area: money. About 15 minutes in to a wide-ranging conversation with a founding...

SMOKEY ROBINSON: The man and the Miracle worker

SMOKEY ROBINSON: The man and the Miracle worker

It was one of those fortunate circumstances that Motown Records founder Berry Gordy from Detroit met his label’s star (and later his producer and boardroom exec) Smokey Robinson -- who had been around the Detroit scene in high school groups for years -- when both of them happened to be in New York. The ambitious Gordy, who’d...

THE TEMPTATIONS: Creating Heaven for Motown right here on Earth

THE TEMPTATIONS: Creating Heaven for Motown right here on Earth

The ever-changing line-up of the legendary Motown soul group the Temptations (only two original members of the '61 founding group by the mid-Nineties when the five-disc retrospective Emperors of Soul was released) made their career a little difficult to follow. But they were one of the cornerstone acts on Motown. Even their most ardent...

Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5: The Motown Years (Motown/Universal)

Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5: The Motown Years (Motown/Universal)

Presumably scheduled for the Motown 50th anniversary rather than Recent Events, this three-disc collection soaks up 32 tracks of Michael Jackson with the 5, and on the third disc 16 outings under his own name. Aside from it being a typically cheap product in its packaging etc (no liner notes), this is a fair-enough overview but serves to...

Opensouls: Standing in the Rain (Dirty)

Opensouls: Standing in the Rain (Dirty)

To be honest, I wasn't expecting to like this quite as much as I do. Certainly some songs lack a soulful punch and you'd wish for more power in the vocals of Tyra at times. But these people write a good tune -- albeit it grounded in Motown classic riffs and shifts -- and the edgy guitars elevate it a little more than I had anticipated. It is...

Mayer Hawthorne: A Strange Arrangement (Rhythmethod)

Mayer Hawthorne: A Strange Arrangement (Rhythmethod)

There's a lot of soul -- and faux-soul -- around these days what with Duffy, Amy Winehouse (is she still around?), James Hunter, Beth Rowley who gives it a blues and rock twist, Alice Russell with a funk spin and, on the local front, Opensouls. Of them all, on paper at least, Hawthorne might have the hardest task persuading an...

Various: Michael Jackson; the Remix Suite (Universal)

Various: Michael Jackson; the Remix Suite (Universal)

Motown may have missed their golden opportunity with the shoddily compiled 50th anniversary albums, but they aren't so stupid as to let yet another marketing opportunity go by -- and so here comes wee Michael with (mostly) the life remixed out of him. There will be a great Jackson remix album (it won't be official of course, it'll be out...

MOTOWN, THE FIRST TWO DECADES: There's a place in the sun

MOTOWN, THE FIRST TWO DECADES: There's a place in the sun

In 2009, Motown celebrated its 50th anniversary. Not that there was much to celebrate in 2009. The golden years for this classic and culture-shifting label had started to wither some three decades previous and it was notable that when it released compilation albums to cash in on this anniversary they were shoddy and sorry affairs, woeful in...

MICHAEL JACKSON; LIVE IN '96: The man who fell to Earth

MICHAEL JACKSON; LIVE IN '96: The man who fell to Earth

Somewhere around the midpoint of his often exceptional but undeniably messianic concert in Amsterdam 10 days ago, Michael Jackson fell to his knees and appeared to weep uncontrollably. Jackson -- whose stage craft was impeccable and dancing as exciting as expected -- remained hunched over and apparently sobbing on the enormous stage for...

Ardijah: The Best; PolyFonk (PolyFonk)

Ardijah: The Best; PolyFonk (PolyFonk)

In the decade before hip-hop became the distinctive voice of South Auckland, the Polynesian soul-funk of Ardijah was the most prominent and carried to a wider audience by the singles Give Me Your Number, Watching U and Time Makes a Wine from their platinum-selling 88 album Take a Chance. Helmed by multi-instrumentalist/writer/producer...

The Supremes: Floy Joy (1972)

The Supremes: Floy Joy (1972)

In the mid Sixties when people were earnestly looking to Bob Dylan for answers, someone asked him who his favourite poet was. "Smokey Robinson," he replied. Fair call. Smokey's songs like Got a Job had wit and Tracks of My Tears had heart. You can't add or subtract a word from My Guy or You Really Got a Hold On Me. But even...

STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN DVD REVIEWED (2003)

STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN DVD REVIEWED (2003)

When music magazines make up lists of great players - best drummer, top guitarist or whatever - one name invariably appears in the best bassist countdown: James Jamerson. At which point most people might fairly ask, "James who?" Which is exactly the problem this exciting, moving, good-natured soul-funk documentary seeks to redress....

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