It can’t have escaped anyone’s attention that Motown is, this year, celebrating its 50th birthday. There’s been any number of album reissues and compilations and a decent level of interest in the media. There have been a number of celebratory books published too, but I’m absolutely confident that none will come near the scholarship and thoroughness of this mighty 700 page plus volume from American writer TERRY WILSON. WILSON – a self-confessed Motown addict – has worked in England for some time and soon after arriving he became impressed by the passion and devotion of UK Motown collectors. He already had an idea for a book to try and distil Motown’s top 100 songs, but he quickly realized that a complete run down (with full commentary) of every UK-issued Motown single would produce a more integrated book and one that would have real appeal to the aforementioned collectors. So, ‘TAMLA MOTOWN …THE STORIES BEHIND THE UK SINGLES’ was conceived and now – some five years later- it’s available from all good bookshops!
The book is a testament to WILSON’S thoroughness and it will appeal directly to the anorak nature of the stereotyped UK collector. It begins with the releases on the old London label in 1959 and goes right through to the noughties. In between it covers all the major landmarks and a host of appendices will keep the most committed Motown-phile occupied for days … it even has sections on the typefaces used on those famous 7″ paper sleeves. But the book is much more than a sterile listing. WILSON offers astute and thoughtful comments about each release – often avoiding the obvious by offering new perspectives. He’s particularly good on ‘What’s Going On’ – suggesting that RENALDO BENSON’S contribution to the masterpiece is all-too often overlooked. Equally persuasive is WILSON’S logical questioning as to why Motown music has always been neglected by serious music historians … and it’s observations like these that give the book a life beyond the UK anorak brigade. Every Motown fan – anywhere – will find something new, provocative and intriguing in the book. Without doubt, ‘TAMLA MOTOWN – THE STORIES BEHIND THE UK SINGLES’ is the best book to come out of this year’s Motown celebrations.
TERRY WILSON’S ‘TAMLA MOTOWN – THE STORIES BEHIND THE UK SINGLES’ (published by CHERRY RED BOOKS) is out now