VARIOUS: Motown, The Complete Number 1s (Label: Motown, Universal)

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VARIOUS: Motown, The Complete Number 1s

The magnificent Motown 50th celebrations continue with this tremendous 10 CD box set that brings together all the number 1 hits (pop, R&B and even C&W) scored by the Gordy stable during the last half century. It kicks off with the Miracles’ ‘Shop Around’ and ends with Erykah Badu’s ‘Bag Lady’ and in between there are plenty of well-loved and fondly-remembered memory jerkers. As a sort of bonus the collection’s extended with a smattering of Motown classics that – as cover versions – have been number 1 for non-Motown artists. So, for instance, stuff like Marvin Gaye’s ‘Wherever I Lay My Hat’ and Martha and the Vandellas’ ‘Dancing In The Street’ are included because Paul Young and Jagger/Bowie respectively hit the top spot with them. The ten CDs offer a sweeping soundscape of Berry Gordy’s achievements and though I know that Motown purists will say that cuts like 1990’s ‘Crazy’ from the Boys lack the passion, soul and honesty of tracks like Stevie’s ‘Fingertips’, my guess is that Berry Gordy wouldn’t make that distinction. He was only interested in scoring the hits and my guess is that esotericism and even soul weren’t qualities discussed at any real length at his regular quality control meetings. Everything here (with the infamous exception of ‘What’s Going On’) passed those quality tests with colours flying and – second guessing Gordy again – it’s my contention that even he never dared to dream that his dream would be so successful and last so long. The proof is all here, and as with all the recent Motown presentation sets the packaging and annotation here are superb. The 10 CDs come packed in a box designed like the original Motown building at 2648 West Grand Boulevard in Detroit and the extensive archive pictures perfectly complement both that theme and the incredible musical journey. Most Motown collectors will have all the music – many times over, in all probability – but for what this represents and how it represents it – credit crunch or not, the collection is unmissable.
(BB) 5/5