VARIOUS: Motown 50 (Label: Motown, Universal)

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VARIOUS: Motown 50

Diligent readers of our news pages will already know all about this album. But briefly … to celebrate mighty Motown’s 50th anniversary, Universal commissioned an on-line poll to select the 50 most popular tunes in the label’s huge catalogue and the result is this triple CD pack. It will come as no surprise to learn that there are no surprises. People who bothered to vote in the poll were clearly mainstream fans rather than soul cognoscenti since the selections are the obvious, not the esoteric. So stand by for another Motown compilation that boasts ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’, ‘Baby Love’, ‘The Tears Of A Clown’, ‘I Want You Back’, ‘My Guy’, ‘Dancing In The Street’ etc etc etc… The only thing that is mildly interesting is the inclusion of 3 ‘later period’ Stevie Wonder tracks – ‘Superstition’, ‘Sir Duke’ and ‘Masterblaster’. Till now Mr. W has rarely allowed songs like that onto compilations. However – as with the rest of the material – there can’t be a soul fan who doesn’t have ’em all already. That’s maybe why the package is completed with the inclusion of 11 Motown cover versions – that’s to say Motown artists’ takes on various soul and pop hits. So we have Stevie on ‘Light My Fire’, Four Tops with ‘Everybody’s Talking’, David Ruffin tackling ‘Put A Little Love In Your Hearts’ and so on… but again, my guess is that Motown collectors will already have all 11. Much more exciting is the buzz on the release of a whole batch of Motown 7″ vinyl singles in the New Year. Here the marketeers have gone for the more esoteric and collectable, like Carolyn Crawford’s ‘My Smile Is Just A Frown Turned Upside Down’ (more details on our news pages by the way). In the meantime we have this massive 61 tracker – which, though leaving soul collectors cold, will sell by the Christmas bucket-full…. Yes, even in these credit-crunching times ….and cynics might say that that was the object of the exercise in the first place… but hey, Christmas is no time for cynicism, is it?
(BB) 3/5