Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

Welcome To B&S



Sharon Davis' Motown Tracking column (AUGUST)

Sharon Davis' Motown Tracking (AUGUST 2011)
Sharon Davis' Motown Tracking (AUGUST 2011) The Vintage Festival @Southbank 2011 First Class Love: Rare Tee (Import Music Services) Al Abrams: Hype & Soul Earl Dwayne: NFlow (CD Baby/Indys) Scherrie Payne Martha Reeves and Sharon Davis sacjdfsk

Phew! I must have walked around the Vintage Festival a thousand times, and talked until my throat was dry. The heat was dreadful – and this mad hatter doesn’t do warm very well - but the atmosphere was great, and of course, it gave me - and us - the chance to talk to some of you guys as you popped by the B&S stall. The fabbest news of all, of course, was the launch of our first bi-monthly magazine on 1 August. Yep, it’s finally happened and the response has been overwhelming. Thank you folks – you are the loyalist readers in the world, and we won’t let you down. Well I may do, if my deadlines aren’t given some slack (Please note Mr Editor!)


Anyway, I’ve recently been involved in some researching duties and came across some words from Dave Godin who, among so many other things, wrote for B&S back in the day. As you know, he was a driving force behind the magazine and was instrumental in getting me the job of writing about our beloved Motown, which led to interviewing and a little bit more. Dave also spearheaded the first Motown fan club over here, and what caught my eye was an extract or two from one of his TMAS magazines which are like gold dust now – naturally. (Tamla Motown Appreciation Society) So, what follows relates to the very first Motown Revue over here in 1965. It’s a letter dated 1 March 1965 from Berry Gordy to Mr Godin, and is re-printed in its original form. Ready?

“Dear Dave and members of the T/M Apprec. Society.
I am pleased to announce that March 15, 1965 will be a red letter day for us. It is on that date that he ‘Tamla/Motown’ label will be launched in England. From this date forward, our records will be available not only in England but throughout the world on the ‘Tamla/Motown’ label. It is as a result of such loyal and devoted efforts as yours that such an historic event is possible. All the artists and my entire staff join me in thanking you for your loyal and unwavering support of Tamla/Motown and its artists. We shall strive to continue to give the quality of record that will merit your trust and provide your continued listening.

We are again hoping and looking forward to meeting each of you during March as we plan to participate in the T/M label launching program, as well as spend a few days with the tour of the ‘Tamla-Motown Show’ in England.
Sincerely yours,
Berry Gordy Jr

There’s more if you’d like me to continue in the future, like, Dave’s reply and comments of the tour’s aftermath and so on. Just let me know eh? We could carry on next time. Let’s move on …..


In MT 23 I mentioned that I’d received some emails about Motown closing. It was kinda misguiding at the time, to say the least, and turned out to be an announcement that Universal had closed down their New York Mastering Studios, and that the Los Angeles one remained operational. Rumours continued to abound, as these things do, until just recently when it was headlined “Motown Gets Gutted” in the US press. This bannered the news item that Sylvia Rhone, who had overseen Motown, wasn’t there any more, and that the Universal Motown Republic Group and Island Def Jam Music Group had consolidated. Barry Weiss, the biggest cheese of those two companies said that this would benefit artists and business partners. “While this will unfortunately result in some redundancy, it will allow for increased expenditures on the creative front across our labels, with particular plans to double our A&R investment at Universal Motown.” Then Billboard.Biz later headlined “Motown Is Not Folding”. And to back this up, a record company statement was issued that included - “We remain committed to Motown as a strong presence in the contemporary music scene.“ And that announcements would soon be made about the investment in building up the artist roster so that Motown will continue to represent the best that’s around artistically and commercially. The very-nearly latest on this appears to be that the new head of Motown will be Ethiopia Habtemariam who, I believe, is currently in charge of Universal’s Urban Music and vice-president of Creative Services. When she’s in place, she’ll hire a dozen or so staff members and together they will work on Motown’s artist roster which, it seems, will include the back catalogue, and be responsible for any new signings. So, reading this now leads me to think, the re-issues and compilations will continue but will Motown be releasing them instead of licensing product as it does now? Yes I know, not very clear is it? But I don’t have any more to tell you just now. What I do know is, and I’ve made little secret of it over the years, that to a large extent I believed Motown was lost to us when Berry Gordy sold his baby to the MCA conglomerate on 29 June 1988 for $61 million. I mourned then, like so many more. Actually I’m reminded of the statement Berry issued at the time; it included something like this, that he had planned to sell it a couple of years previously but knew he wasn’t ready to call it a day. “I had not completely realised what Motown had become, an American institution….I am proud that this African-American heritage has been embraced by the world and has become permanently woven into the fabric of popular culture.” Hah I lied, I copied that from Berry’s autobiography! However, what I do really remember was a phrase he used when accepting an award or other at an American function, and it stuck with me for some reason. “I would like to thank a country whose form of government makes it possible for someone to have a dream like mine come true.” And I’ve digressed too - typical.


Now – Miss Teena Marie and the interesting release First Class Love: Rare Tee. Released by Import Music Services and is, I believe, available via for £10 or so. These tracks pre-date her work with Rick James by some two years, and the cds are a pot pourie of early material recorded between April 1976 and May 1977. It includes duets with Ronnie McNeir with some production credits going to Winston Monseque, among others.


Al Abrams’ long-awaited book Hype & Soul! is finally ready to be launched into the public arena in September. Have mentioned this previously – Al was Motown’s first pr, among other things, and this tome gives out behind the scenes secrets. The first 500 copies come with a souvenir single, a replica of the historic 1964 Hitsville USA Greetings To TMAS (yeh, the same one) containing messages for Dave from Motown’s finest. Al, some of us have an original hun!! But a marvellous chance for others to enjoy such an important part in our history. I also love the phrase you’re using too – “it’s what’s in the words that count!” Purrfect! Visit for more info..... And finally, if there’s room...


Have just been reminded of something. When I reviewed Earl Dwayne’s NFlow cd just recently, I forgot to say you can buy it through or check out his website….. if you visit you’ll see the cover of her forthcoming single and yes it’s a new version of The Supremes’ song. Also pop by ….Martha Reeves was seventy earlier this month. Happy Birthday my friend. She’s currently working on a new album and on a follow-up to her autobiography Dancing In The Streets published in 1995. As well as her music career, Martha served about four years as a Detroit city councillor, and in 2007 lobbied Congress for better wage and royalties for musicians. A busy lady indeed, but always finds the time to stay in touch ….Poole watch out! …..Have decided to say no more about my email address being published on a website as I’d rather plough my energies into more positive things. Still think it’s a damn cheek though… .. Said to be available in September a trio of dvds from Universal, namely, The Best Of The Supremes On The Ed Sullivan Show, The Best Of The Temptations On The Ed Sullivan Show and Motown Gold From The Ed Sullivan Show featuring Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Temptations, Four Tops, Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, and The Supremes…. Also due the same month – DeBarge’s Time Will Reveal: Complete Motown Albums…… is me, so stay in touch.

Til next time
Keep the faith

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