motown

motown on Elsewhere by Graham Reid - browse 30 items of content tagged as 'motown'.

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...

Various: Motown Love (Motown/Universal)

Various: Motown Love (Motown/Universal)

This triple-disc set suffers from the same problem as the previously released and quite dreadful Motown 50 collection: an unacceptable and unnatural inclusion of Michael Jackson/Jackson 5 and Diana Ross -- and in this instance of course you get a dollop of soppy Lionel Richie as well. Alarmingly Smokey Robinson, who wrote some of the label...

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...

Wheedle's Groove, Kearney Barton (Light in the Attic)

Wheedle's Groove, Kearney Barton (Light in the Attic)

Seattle’s claims to musical fame run from 60’s garage bands (the Sonics) through Hendrix, grunge and more recently Modest Mouse -- but it also once boasted a strong (if largely overlooked) soul-funk scene. Here some of its senior citizens -- most players are in their 60s -- get tight (and loose) on some fatback sounds which are...

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...

Various: Alice Russell; The Pot of Gold Remixes (Little Poppet)

Various: Alice Russell; The Pot of Gold Remixes (Little Poppet)

This may well be for a minority audience for a few reasons: not as many people liked UK soul singer Alice Russell's late 2008 album Pot of Gold quite as much as I did (but seemed to like her Auckland gig a whole lot more than me, I quit out of despair). And this is a double disc of remixes of those album tracks by the likes DJ Vadim, Mr Scruff,...

20th Century Steel Band: Warm Heart, Cold Steel (Mr Bongo)

20th Century Steel Band: Warm Heart, Cold Steel (Mr Bongo)

The fate of this reissue by a mid Seventies steel band from the UK (in disco-funk outfits) is probably going to be on one of those summertime radio programmes where wild'n'crazy hosts play odd versions of big hits. And this group can certainly oblige because here are steel band treatments of the theme to Shaft, Papa Was a Rolling Stone, a...

Plan B: The Defamation of Strickland Banks (Atlantic)

Plan B: The Defamation of Strickland Banks (Atlantic)

East London 'ard-man rapper Ben Drew -- aka Plan B -- can deliver some bruising rap about utterly nasty characters (and in an uncompromising manner which suggests you shouldn't mess with him). But he also showcases another side on this, his second studio album. That of an aching falsetto-Smokey Robinson/Motown-styled soul singer. He goes...

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...

ROD STEWART, STORYTELLER: The easy case for the defense

ROD STEWART, STORYTELLER: The easy case for the defense

It was always easy for me to forgive Rod Stewart his excesses and mistakes. His graduation from soulful r’n’b singer through frontman impersonations with the boys-night-out Faces band and into a solo career was a pleasure to watch. When he wasn’t being entertaining, he was tearing your heart out with his singularly...

CLIMIE FISHER INTERVIEWED (1988): Studio changes everything

CLIMIE FISHER INTERVIEWED (1988): Studio changes everything

The rock music thing used to be quite straightforward. A few people got together, practiced a few covers, wrote some original material and the band honed its act in pubs and clubs and on the road. Somewhere down the line a record company appeared and the band made records. These days that process can be reversed. Noel Crombie of...

JIMI HENDRIX, AN ESSAY: In my Life

JIMI HENDRIX, AN ESSAY: In my Life

For a man who changed the landscape of rock -- and not so coincidentally my life -- his last resting place looks extremely modest. It is late 2002 and I am standing at a simple plaque in the grass with only a single glass of fading flowers on it. There are no visitors here other than me and my companion Tommy, a Norwegian music journalist from...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ben Sollee: Learning to Bend (Shock)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Ben Sollee: Learning to Bend (Shock)

Here's a striking opening couplet on an album: "If you're gonna lead my country and you're gonna say it's free, I'm gonna need a little honesty . . . just a few honest words, it shouldn't be that hard". That these spare but blunt sentiments are delivered over cello rather than angry guitars make them even more powerful, and when...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Michael Jackson; Off the Wall and Thriller (Sony)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Michael Jackson; Off the Wall and Thriller (Sony)

Michael Jackson has been dead for over a year now -- almost 18 months in fact -- and the marketing rolls on: there will be a new album (entitled Michael) on December 14 2010 and you can read the details here. But while we now expect such posthumous things from our dead musicians, there's also a place for simply looking back at what once was...

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...

STKS: Rhythm and Brown (M4U Records)

STKS: Rhythm and Brown (M4U Records)

In November 2010, when most media people were looking the other way unfortunately, a new Auckland-based record label M4U launched itself with a showcase of its talent in a hip bar on Ponsonby Rd. The two most impressive acts bookended the night: the terrifyingly talented young singer Ria who stopped the chatter from her first...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Marvin Gaye; 4 Original Albums (Motown)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Marvin Gaye; 4 Original Albums (Motown)

In a flip-top box like a cigarette packet, Motown have packaged up four albums by the great Marvin Gaye, but to be fair some of this is ashes or fag ends of his genius. Not all of it of course: this four disc set includes his sultry, sexual Let's Get It On album (1973) remastered -- the one which followed his singular What's Goin' On -- and...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Charles Bradley: No Time for Dreaming (Daptone)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Charles Bradley: No Time for Dreaming (Daptone)

The title here is certainly true: 63-year old Florida-born Bradley -- an exceptional soul singer who sounds like a distillation of James Brown, aching Otis Redding, the troubled Marvin Gaye, searching Al Green and the much overlooked Sonny Charles of the Checkmates -- has barely had a chance to dream in a hard-working life. Bradley seems to...

Seth Haapu: Seth Haapu (Sony)

Seth Haapu: Seth Haapu (Sony)

Although this suffers a little, but only a very little, from the showcasing which often attends any debut -- and has one of those now customary intro tracks which seem de rigueur on hip-hop albums, here the tasty but too brief Hurly Burly -- this is one enormously impressive collection from a young man who would seem to have important people at...

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...

Jerry Butler: Mr Dee Jay, I Got A Heartache (1968)

Jerry Butler: Mr Dee Jay, I Got A Heartache (1968)

Jerry Butler, one of the greatest soul singers to emerge out of Chicago, came up through the usual route: gospel in church, inspired by Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers, formed a group (the Impressions) and recorded for Vee-Jay down on what was known as Record Row. "Record Row was the scene," he said. "It went from just south...

The Contours: First I Look at the Purse (1965)

The Contours: First I Look at the Purse (1965)

One of the first groups signed to Berry Gordy's Motown label, the Contours had a huge hit with the much-covered Do You Love Me ("now that I can dance") which was in the set of Beatles-era bands like the Dave Clark Five, the Hollies and the Tremeloes. After their next couple of songs failed to ignite it seems they were relegated...

Rod Stewart: Singer, believe it or not

Rod Stewart: Singer, believe it or not

When Rod Stewart came to New Zealand in 1992 he wasn't doing any interviews. He was sick of questions about his then-wife Rachel Hunter. And so the shutters went up. I spoke with him. It was easy. I simply let it be known I couldn't give a toss about his wife, I wanted to talk to him as a singer and songwriter (an aspect of Rod which is too...

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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