VARIOUS: A Complete Introduction To Tamla Motown (Label: Motown, Universal)

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VARIOUS: A Complete Introduction To Tamla Motown

This lavishly-packaged four CD, 94 track album represents the culmination of Motown’s fiftieth anniversary celebrations in the UK – where of course the Tamla Motown brand eventually represented all of Gordy’s labels. Faced with the ultra-difficult task of synthesising what Tamla Motown stood/stands for, compiler Adam White has opted for a thematic approach with each of the four CDs offering a particular focus. CD 1 celebrates ‘Milestones and Influences’ and it really speaks for itself, offering stuff like Marv Johnson’s ‘Come To Me’ ( Gordy’s first ever single), the Marvelettes’ ‘Please Mr. Postman’ (the label’s first no. 1) and Frank Wilson’s ‘Do I Love You’ ( the rarest single – or so we’re told). CD 2 – ‘British Chartbusters’ – is just as straight forward and includes tracks that we dear old Brits took to our hearts even though they may have originally been ignored Stateside – I’m talking things like the Isleys’ ‘Behind A Painted Smile’ and the Elgins’ ‘Heaven Must Have Sent You’. CD 3 is a little odder – it’s a collection of live tracks recorded in London and Paris and I suppose the justification is that it gives the flavour of those famed Motown Revues but some of the stuff (particularly the Temptations’ physc-soul cuts) post date the heady hey day and sound quality is patchy too. The cynic might say the disc represents the bait to catch the collector – which is also the justification for the fourth CD – a 25 track assemblage of key B sides… and it’s here that the set really comes alive. Tunes like Martha and the Vandellas’ ‘Third Finger Left Hand’, Kim Weston’s ‘Do Like I Do’ and the Four Tops’ ‘I Got A Feeling’ have real significance to true Motown fans … all able to jerk tears and memories….while collectors will enjoy having easy access to Smokey and the Miracles’ ‘Come Spy With Me’. Anthologising the impact and influence of Tamla Motown was never going to be an easy job and it’s easy to point to glaring omissions (where, for instance, are Brenda Holloway’s ‘When I’m Gone’ and, less esoterically maybe, Marvin’s ‘Grapevine’?)… but in fairness this set ticks most of the boxes.
(BB) 4/5