Monday, 4 June 2018

The Complete Motown Singles Volume Four (1964)


It had been a four to five year journey for Berry Gordy's Motown (and associate) label (s) from 1959 to 1964 before the really "broke through". They were still not quite there yet. That famous Funk Brothers-backed "Motown Sound" had not quite arrived. Just a few 1963 songs, like Martha Reeves' "Heat Wave" and Diana Ross & The Supremes' "When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes" gave a hint at what was to come. However, listen to Choker Campbell's Big Band's instrumental take on "Come See About Me" and, indeed, Diana Ross & The Supremes' vocal version and the foundations are firmly in place. 1964 was a year of change for Motown, an important transitional year. "Baby Love" by Diana Ross & The Supremes blew it all wide open. Motown was her to stay now, with a concrete identity. "The Sound Of Young America" was airborne. It had taken five long years.

Many of the old faithful artists are still here in this collection - The Contours, The Marvelettes, The Velvelettes, Mary Wells, Sammy Ward, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, the still early teenage Stevie Wonder (whose voice deepens as the set progresses!), The Temptations and Marvin Gaye. Of course, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles were still going strong. New faces were Junior Walker & The All Stars and The Four Tops. The Spinners (later to become The Detroit Spinners). Also there are ones who didn't quite make it like The Andantes and Shorty Long.

Amongst some of the promising material on here are still some shockers - Howard Crockett's country songs are awful and Dorsey Burnette's stuff not much better. Liz Lands' gospel tunes now sound terribly dated. The beauty of downloading this music to a digital collection as well as owning the beautifully presented books is that one can delete the rubbish.

The sound is wonderfully remastered, most of it in the true MONO of the time. However, a few stereo tracks are coming in, showing the recording advances the Motown studios had developed, especially in contrast to those in the UK at the same period. Forget George Martin. These guys were the true recording pioneers. A song like Martha Reeves' iconic "Dancing In The Street" and marvellous in stereo. That said, listen to The Temptations' "(Talkin' 'Bout) Nobody But My Baby", Mary Wells' "I'll Be Available" or "My Smile Is Just A Frown" by Carolyn Crawford in mono and the sound is just as impressive. 1964 was a year when mono still suited many of these recordings and, for a confirmed stereo man like myself, the better sonic times were just around the corner.

Highlights are:-

"Come See About Me" - Choker Campbell's Big Band
"Where Did Our Love Go" - Diana Ross & The Supremes
"That Day When She Needed Me" - The Contours
"(Talkin' "Bout) Nobody But My Baby - The Temptations
"Run, Run, Run" - Diana Ross & The Supremes
"Baby Love" - Diana Ross & The Supremes
"Dancing In The Street" - Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
"My Girl" - The Temptations
"The Way You Do The Things You Do" - The Temptations
"Wild One" - Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
"Satan's Blues" - Jr. Walker & The All Stars
"Come See About Me" - Diana Ross & The Supremes
"Monkey Jump" - Jr. Walker & The All Stars
"Every Little Bit Hurts" - Brenda Holloway
"Too Many Fish In The Sea" - The Marvelettes
"Baby I Need Your Loving" - The Four Tops
"Needle In A Haystack" - The Velvelettes
"How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" - Marvin Gaye
"My Smile Is Just A Frown" - Carolyn Crawford
"My Guy" - Mary Wells
"He Was Really Sayin' Something" - The Velvelettes
"I'll Be Available" - Mary Wells
"Bread Winner" - Sammy Ward
"Leaving Here" - Tommy Good


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