Over the last few years UK specialist label, Ace/Kent has done a wonderful job reissuing vital Motown archive material. They’ve put out some hugely collectable single artist sets and a great compilation of rare tunes from the ladies of the Motown roster. Now in the interest of equal opportunities (and why not?) the Ace/Kent team have put together a magnificent 24 tracker of tunes from the men of Motown… and what makes this collection so special is that none of the tracks have ever appeared on vinyl or CD before… begging the question, of course, of how big is that Motown vault and just what is left in it?
Whatever, soul collectors in general and Motown specialists in particular will be delighted with this set which includes material from right across the Gordy stable; there’s lots from the big hitters, plenty from the second stringers, a smattering from the unknowns and the odd oddity.
The oddest oddity is probably ‘I Wanted To Cry’ from Bruce Channel. Channel, of course, is best known for his 1962 no.1 pop hit ‘Hey Baby’ but when the follow-ups failed to click Berry Gordy (always quick to see an opportunity) took him under his wing and had young Bruce cut six sides at Hitsville. Gordy issued a couple of rock and country flavoured singles on Channel on his Mel-O-Dy imprint but when they bombed the ‘Hey Baby’ boy was dropped. The Channel cut on this collection is a great H-D-H “shelved” song called ‘I Wanted To Cry’ and it’s a typical Motown circa ’63 artefact… a far cry from country, rock and ‘Hey Baby’. Enjoy it here for the very first time.
Another oddity is ‘Tell Me How To Forget A True Love’ from Johnny Bristol. Bristol is often cited as a Motown backroom mainstay and, of course, he scored his own hits as an artist after quitting the Gordy empire. However, Johnny first came to Motown in 1963 as a performer. He’d recorded with Jacky Beavers for Anna and Tri-Phi and Berry Gordy was keen to sign him during the period when he was taking over other Detroit labels. Between 1963-64 Bristol cut six tracks for Motown but none got past the famous Quality Control Department. They languished in the vaults and JB went on to win fame as a writer/producer. It’s hard to say why ‘Tell Me How To Forget A True Love’ fell foul of the Quality Control people (maybe it was too similar to the Spinner’s ‘Sweet Thing’) but, once again, enjoy it now!
Equally puzzling is why The Miracles’ ‘Baby You Got The Key’ failed too. It was recorded in 1966 during sessions for the ‘Away We A Go-Go’ LP and it’s a good as anything that ended up on the album. It’s one of those lovely bitter/sweet Robinson ballads that makes you realize why Smokey is regarded as a soul icon. Again, enjoy the tune now.
Indeed enjoy 21 more fabulous, previously unreleased Motown gems from people like The Temptations, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Frank Wilson, Edwin Starr and many, many more! Great stuff!