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Thread: The Motown Thread

  1. #1
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    The Motown Thread

    Quite possibly the finest record company that has ever existed, and home of some of the greatest talent the world has ever known, yeah I'm talkin' about Motown.

    What are your thoughts when you hear a classic Motown groove? Do you feel an uncontrollable urge to get up and dance and sing along? Could you imagine a world without Marvin, Smokey, Chaka, Diana, Michael, or Stevie?

    I would love to see and hear your favorite Motown songs, over fifty years of such incredible music must surely have some fans on this forum, so lets hear it!














    This is just a start!

  2. #2
    The Supremes went to my high school...Cass Tech, downtown Detroit. They were 5 years older, so I missed them, but Motown was huge when I was there.

    I went to the Motown Reviews at Detroit's Fox Theater; my favorites on the label were The Temptations. I took bass lessons from one of the guys who did sessions for them when Jamerson passed away.

    Motown was indeed a creative and superb label, but for one issue: the early stars and writers seem to have had great difficulty getting accountings and royalty payments over the years; a very old lawsuit involving several writers was only resolved last year. Possibly a blemish on Motown's accomplishments.

  3. #3
    DEEPER STRIATIONS markie's Avatar
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    I have always been a big fan of the Temptations myself & I always dug Ronnie Spector's voice.

    The list could actually go on & on for me.............
    Fanboy of the Jester (AKA) James (Previously known as 11top)

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by markie View Post
    I have always been a big fan of the Temptations myself & I always dug Ronnie Spector's voice.

    The list could actually go on & on for me.............
    Ronnie Spector was not on Motown...Motown was a Detroit label until around 1970, and the original roster consisted of Detroit-based acts. You might be thinking of Martha and the Vandellas, who were a Motown act.

    Being a New Yorker, Ronnie was originally on Philles Records (owned by Phil Spector) and ultimately went to another label, Colpix ( I'm not sure if Phil Spector was involved in that).

    Not that it matters to most, but the Motown sound had a different vibe than Spector's "Wall of Sound" technique; I've always thought that it was interesting that in that era, there was a definite "Philly" sound, a NY sound, a Memphis sound, etc., and the process of recording was extremely varied because no one was using the same equipment. Labels literally built their own recording consoles back then, and every label had its own echo chamber with a unique sound, etc. Today, everything is mixed on the same gear, mastered and processed in similar ways, etc, and I think it's a big reason why so much material sounds like everything else.

    The old stuff had personality and reflected the style of where it was recorded! Even the British Invasion material was very different sounding from label to label; the London Stones records sounded way different from the EMI recordings the Beatles made, The Who's Decca stuff had its own vibe, and really that sonic variety was awesome. At least to me...you went out to the West Coast, and records by acts like The Beach Boys or The Ventures sounded different, too.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 01-10-2013 at 05:09 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post

    Not that it matters to most, but the Motown sound had a different vibe than Spector's "Wall of Sound" technique; I've always thought that it was interesting that in that era, there was a definite "Philly" sound, a NY sound, a Memphis sound, etc., and the process of recording was extremely varied because no one was using the same equipment. Labels literally built their own recording consoles back then, and every label had its own echo chamber with a unique sound, etc. Today, everything is mixed on the same gear, mastered and processed in similar ways, etc, and I think it's a big reason why so much material sounds like everything else.

    The old stuff had personality and reflected the style of where it was recorded! Even the British Invasion material was very different sounding from label to label; the London Stones records sounded way different from the EMI recordings the Beatles made, The Who's Decca stuff had its own vibe, and really that sonic variety was awesome. At least to me...you went out to the West Coast, and records by acts like The Beach Boys or The Ventures sounded different, too.
    Exactly. I loved the fact that the sounds were unique, that is one of the things I really enjoy about the earlier reggae labels from Jamaica too.

    It's cool to hear some of your recollections given your location and the time period you grew up Les. Who did you study under if you don't mind me asking? I had almost no Idea who played on any of these songs until I saw "Standing in the Shadows of Motown", The Funk Brothers must be the most popular unknown musicians in the world.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by sergiodeblanc View Post
    Who did you study under if you don't mind me asking? I had almost no Idea who played on any of these songs until I saw "Standing in the Shadows of Motown", The Funk Brothers must be the most popular unknown musicians in the world.
    I took lessons from Dan Pliskow, a mostly jazz guy who also played on Motown sessions. Dan worked with Wes Montgomery, too. He is a very talented, sweet man, and a great teacher.

    I am sure that I was his worst student of all time.

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    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Wow. Could you imagine being included in the same caliber of player's as Babbitt, Jamerson, and Felder? I don't know if I would have the courage to show up for work!

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by sergiodeblanc View Post
    Wow. Could you imagine being included in the same caliber of player's as Babbitt, Jamerson, and Felder? I don't know if I would have the courage to show up for work!
    I dunno...I'd never have been asked to the gig!

    By the way, one of my first "big dates" was to see Wes Montgomery play at Baker's in Detroit. Great little club, really a small place, hosted lots of jazz greats. I didn't really know a thing about jazz at the time, but I liked listening to his music, and wanted to impress my date with my urbane teenage sophistication.

    In those days, the greats still played small clubs, only a few feet from the audience's tables, and it was pretty exciting stuff!

    In fact, in 1966 The Who played a high school dance at a Detroit Area high school called Southfield High. Yes, that The Who. High School Dance. It wasn't like it became in the late 60s and 70s with Arenas, and that sort of thing. Big time bands did college homecoming shows, small club gigs, ballroom gigs, etc. And big time pop artists did hotel and night club shows with only a few hundred people in attendance; I saw many of them because my parents dragged me everywhere. Barbra Streisand did a summer gig at a restaurant in Detroit called The Caucus Club. A restaurant gig!

    It's funny because now far lesser bands turn up their noses at small venue gigs that Wes Montgomery and other classic bands would have gladly taken.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 01-10-2013 at 07:51 PM.

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    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Yeah, I remember my mother complaining about seeing some jazz pianist who didn't play the melody's to some of her favorite tunes at some hole in the wall in the 60's, I guess his name was Ramsey Lewis? She had never heard of him before.

  10. #10
    Pull My Goldtop... Goldtop's Avatar
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    I love Motown! Here are just three of my favorites. I love the SOUND of most Motown songs. Their studio(s) had this resonance that is amazing to me. A relatively simple thing like a finger snap took on a whole new life when it came from Motown. The TONE!

    The horns in this one... Oh Baby!



    Baby, I need my Motown!





    Lloyd/Goldtop/Queen of Clubs
    'And the answer is... none. None more Gold.'

  11. #11
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Here's a "newerish" Motown artist Remy Shand. It's a really cool record clinging to the "California Motown" sound of the 70's.


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    My favorite Motown tunes and artists:















    That's what I get for being a punk, metal, grunge, classic rock kinda guy. The closest I can get to this genre is to listen to Ted Nugent play "Motor City Madman".

  13. #13
    Bridge constructor MykeWright's Avatar
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    2Tek'd to the MAX

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by docbennett View Post
    My favorite Motown tunes and artists:















    That's what I get for being a punk, metal, grunge, classic rock kinda guy. The closest I can get to this genre is to listen to Ted Nugent play "Motor City Madman".
    Classic Rock? Consider that on the Beatles' second album, three of the eleven songs were Motown songs:

    "You Really Got A Hold On Me," "Money," and "Please Mr. Postman."

    The Rolling Stones' first records had ""Can I Get a Witness," a song that was later adapted by the Chili Peppers, and "Money," also covered by the Searchers.

    Countless of the original Garage bands of the mid 60s, whose recordings are the base of the whole Garage movement, covered Motown songs, including perhaps the archetypical band of the Garage genre, The Kingsmen.

    Elvis Costello covered "Tracks of My Tears." Vanilla Fudge had hits with several Motown songs, including "Set Me Free Why Don'tcha Babe." New Wave? How about The English Beat, who covered Smokey Robinson tunes and toured with The Clash?

    I could give hundreds more examples, but you get the point.

    All music isn't for everyone, of course, but the Motown sound and the label's music were very, very influential and an inspiration to generations of rock musicians, and Motown is definitely a significant part of the foundations of the genre. If you allow yourself to really listen to what's there in the original songs, you might come away with a deeper understanding of modern popular music, and you might actually enjoy yourself if you open yourself up to it.

    Even my son, who is deeply into rock and punk genres, listens to Motown material and says he's very influenced by the records. I think you're really missing out on some great stuff!

    As a musician and writer, I do think it's important to understand where ideas come from, and how the influences on music grew music and interacted with one another. Motown took pop songs and Blues and married them in a way that Motown songs absolutely hammered the junk that artists like Pat Boone, Bobby Rydell, Dion, and others of that ilk were putting out in the early 60s. Songs like "Dancing In The Streets" (1964) were a revelation at the time (and also covered by Mick Jagger and David Bowie!).

    To miss out on Motown is akin to missing out on Blues; you can play rock n' roll without really getting down and understanding either, but you will come up short at some point because you will lack a real understanding of the basics. I hear Motown even in The Allmans' early stuff. Just my two cents!

    By the way, weren't you working on a lead guitar solo that was recorded by Michael Jackson??
    Last edited by LSchefman; 01-12-2013 at 01:00 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    Classic Rock? Consider that on the Beatles' second album, three of the eleven songs were Motown songs:

    "You Really Got A Hold On Me," "Money," and "Please Mr. Postman."

    The Rolling Stones' first records had ""Can I Get a Witness," a song that was later adapted by the Chili Peppers, and "Money," also covered by the Searchers.

    Countless of the original Garage bands of the mid 60s, whose recordings are the base of the whole Garage movement, covered Motown songs, including perhaps the archetypical band of the Garage genre, The Kingsmen.

    Elvis Costello covered "Tracks of My Tears." Vanilla Fudge had hits with several Motown songs, including "Set Me Free Why Don'tcha Babe." New Wave? How about The English Beat, who covered Smokey Robinson tunes and toured with The Clash?

    I could give hundreds more examples, but you get the point.

    All music isn't for everyone, of course, but the Motown sound and the label's music were very, very influential and an inspiration to generations of rock musicians, and Motown is definitely a significant part of the foundations of the genre. If you allow yourself to really listen to what's there in the original songs, you might come away with a deeper understanding of modern popular music, and you might actually enjoy yourself if you open yourself up to it.

    Even my son, who is deeply into rock and punk genres, listens to Motown material and says he's very influenced by the records. I think you're really missing out on some great stuff!
    Understood. That being said, not one of the songs you mentioned would be something I'd be drawn to. Oh well. There's something for everyone, and everyone's tastes are different. That's what makes it such an interesting world.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by docbennett View Post
    Understood. That being said, not one of the songs you mentioned would be something I'd be drawn to. Oh well. There's something for everyone, and everyone's tastes are different. That's what makes it such an interesting world.
    As I added in an edit to my post, you were working on a Michael Jackson tune that you posted here, weren't you?

    The Jackson 5 and Michael were quintessential Motown artists! The tune you learned a solo to was part of one of his first post-Motown records (he left Motown largely for personal reasons and conflicts with Gordy). To say that you aren't drawn to Motown really isn't 100% accurate. You just don't happen to care for the early stuff.

    I saw the Jackson 5 play live in Detroit several times before Michael left while they were with Motown; they were a fantastic rock band, with a soulful edge. Awesome stuff.

    And you ARE drawn to artists whose music was influenced by Motown, and who covered Motown songs while learning their own craft. So I'm calling semi-BS, or maybe just lack of understanding?

    Anyway, you're right, nothing is for everyone. But I still think you would be well-served by opening the mind and the ears, and letting the ideas filter in.

    Honestly, I listen to music genres I don't usually enjoy all the time, and sometimes I discover some really cool stuff!
    Last edited by LSchefman; 01-12-2013 at 01:08 PM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    It is possible to like music that was influenced by an artist/genre and not like the original artist. I don't care for Dylan and I hate the Beatles, but I love Earth Wind & Fire and INXS. Every time I tell that to somebody they tell me I'm wrong and then proceed to play me example after example of music I find terribly painful to listen to, so instead of trying to persuade you to change your mind I will just say; you're wrong Doc.

    On a serious note: So what do you listen to when it's time to get romantic, or take your wife dancing? Does Ginger mosh?

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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    As I added in an edit to my post, you were working on a Michael Jackson tune that you posted here, weren't you?
    Actually, I consider that an EVH tune, based on the guitar parts.

    Quote Originally Posted by sergiodeblanc View Post
    On a serious note: So what do you listen to when it's time to get romantic, or take your wife dancing? Does Ginger mosh?
    Stuff like "Why don't we do it in the Road" and "Blitzkrieg Bop" and yes..with me!!

  19. #19
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    I watched some movie last night that featured this tune and it got stuck in my head all day today.


  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by docbennett View Post
    Actually, I consider that an EVH tune, based on the guitar parts.
    I'm really disappointed that you would make this myopic a comment. Give credit where it's due. Michael Jackson wrote the music and lyrics and co-produced that record with Quincy Jones, one of the all time great producers.

    To call it an EVH record is almost an insult to anyone's intelligence.

    It's true that EVH came in and added a nice piece to the puzzle, but it was a largely completed recording when he walked into the session and laid down a guitar part like any other session cat. It already had a great beat, a great melody, good lyrics, an arrangement, and a vibe before he walked into that session.

    If there's a reason you're unable to give credit where it's due, and to acknowledge the song's writer and main performer, I can't understand it and...well...I guess it's your loss.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 01-12-2013 at 11:55 PM.

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