Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

Welcome To B&S




Sharon Davis' Book Lionel Richie: Hello
Sharon Davis' Book Lionel Richie: Hello The Funk Brothers Motown Legends: Once In A Lifetime Martha Reeves and The Vandellas in 1966 Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell: United Diana Ross 1970 debut Diana Ross (later reissued as 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough') Mary Wilson The Commodores The Miracles Fourtops: Reachout Temptations: Cloud Nine Stevie Wonder: Songs In The Key Of Life Rick James: Street Songs Jackson 5: ABC Smokey Robinson: A Quite Storm The Supremes: I Hear A Symphony Erykah Badu: Baduizm Diana Ross Diana Ross Shake Your Tail Feather @The Royal Vauxhall Tavern The Magic Of Motown Tour Charlene Duncan Clive Richardson Island Records 50th

Another mixed bag this month. Before we bang on though, many thanks for your emails and notes. Knowing you’re with us here is just great. I’m also chuffed with your comments on my new book Lionel Richie - Hello published by Equinox. That’s all I’m gonna say – honest! Oh, and before talking Motown, get well soon Ms Natalie Cole; we’re all rooting for you girl!! So, let’s talk Motown


I don’t know whether anything will come of this or not, but it seems the former Ladies of the Supremes will be guests of the Funk Brothers when they perform over here. Dateline is September sometime and the venues so far are the Apollo, Hammersmith and Camden’s Jazz Café. I’ll let you know the score on this but while we’re waiting for these dates to be confirmed – and I have to say what a fantastic combination of talent that’ll be too – here’s some dates that are definitely on and were never off, despite a little bit of mischief making. The Once In A Lifetime-Legends Live 2009 featuring Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, the Commodores, The Miracles, Jr Walker’s All Stars and Mary Wilson, kicks off on 23rd June at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena, followed by Nottingham’s Trent FM Arena on 24th; London’s Wembley Arena on 25th; Birmingham’s NIA on 26th; Manchester’s Evening News Arena on 27th; Liverpool’s Echo Arena on 28th. In case you need this information, tickets are available from:

National Hotline 0844 847 1726

See Tickets 0871 2200 260

Ticketmaster 0844 847 1726


From stage shows to vinyl, yes, vinyl!! Universal’s Music Catalogue has announced the launch of its new Motown50 website another in the expanding list celebrating this anniversary year. One of the key features on this website is a brand new online store. In addition to the titles released this year, there’ll be several highly collectable items that will be exclusive to the online store. As mentioned in MT 3, the first of these are five limited edition numbered 7” vinyl singles, with a cute yellow Motown “M” spider and a download code so’s you can get a free digital download of the music too via the website. Digital 2-track versions of each single are also available apparently. These are the first five singles on sale - Barrett Strong-Money /The Contours-Do You Love Me; Mary Wells–My Guy/Carolyn Crawford–My Smile Is Just A Frown (Turned Upside Down); Brenda Holloway-Just Look What You Have Done/The Supremes–Love Is like An Itching In My Heart; The Velvelettes–Lonely Lonely Girl/The Marvelettes–I'll Keep Holding On; and last but by no means least, the Four Tops–Something About You/The Temptations–Get Ready. Right, the prices for these singles are broken down into two - £3.99 each, or each batch of five for £15 – and I’m told they are limited to 500 copies in the UK, with only 2000 worldwide. So pretty attractive (no pun intended!) additions to new Motown fans’ collections methinks.

As for the albums, well, they seem to be all over the place. Some we’ve mentioned in the past, while others have sorta crept up on us. Anyhow, here’s a bit of blurb before listing the actual new releases. Last year’s Back to Black 60th Vinyl Anniversary campaign was such a great success, that Universal will reissue ten of the most groundbreaking Motown albums from artists including Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, the Four Tops and Stevie Wonder, among others. Without getting too technical the albums have been released on heavyweight 180 gram re-mastered vinyl and each one retains the exact replicas of its original artwork and, like the 7” singles, each includes a download voucher. I haven’t been told the criteria needed to be included in the list of ten, so will leave it to you to come to your own conclusions. I can, though, appreciate that perhaps these six are pretty unique. See what you think. Diana Ross’ debut solo album from 1970, with all those heart-warming Ashford & Simpson compositions - Can’t It Wait Until Tomorrow and of course Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand) for example - which gell so comfortably with Diana’s voice. Um, there’s a repetitive error on the track listing printed on the back cover which does indicate it’s not an exact replica of the original. Because the original release is correct. Marvin and Tammi’s United which was, in 1967, their first duet album containing those divine singles like Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and If This World Were Mine. Yes, Ashford & Simpson’s touch is here also with production credits to Johnny Bristol and Harvey Fuqua. The Four Tops’ Reach Out album in 1967 celebrated the release of the international chart topper which, to a certain extent, changed music’s future. Produced by Holland & Dozier, other Tops’ classics are included like the dynamic Bernadette , where Levi holds that note so true and strong, the subdued Walk Away Renee and If I Were A Carpenter , together with the single that launched the group into superstardom. Then there’s The Temptations’ 1969 Cloud Nine release, produced by the mighty Norman Whitfield, which I guess really was their introduction into the colourful world of psychedelic funk. Certainly I can remember laying on the floor between two speakers listening to an extremely loud Runaway Child, Running Wild!! Well, it was the thing to do then! Why Did She Have To Leave Me (Why Did She Have To Go) and the album’s title are also worthy tracks; the tinfoil suits the guys are wearing on the back cover leave a lot to be desired though. Songs In The Key Of Life from Stevie Wonder in 1976 is an extraordinary release. It’s an album you can listen to in its entirety from Love’s In Need Of Love Today, through to the breathtaking Village Ghetto Land, Ordinary Pain, to the almost banal Isn’t She Lovely by comparison, and As and Another Star…see, not a dud track. There’s also a bonus record with the double album, where the front cover is missing a little something from the original release.

Actually, this next album reminds me that I’m currently reading his autobiography and it’s certainly not for the weak hearted. Yes, tis Mr Rick James with his innovative Street Songs from 1981 when I worked at Motown. When the lead track here Give It To Me Baby was a well deserved UK hit we brought Rick to London. Wow, were we in for a time of it – but that’s another tale in another city, so to speak! He once wrote that he was inspired to write this hit by “getting too f****d up to f**k, something that anyone who drinks and snorts coke can relate to.” His words, not mine, I hasten to add!! That aside, I can see why this release is included, containing as it does the best of punk/funk from the man who did it all. Check out the red boots on the album cover and the tracks Super Freak (which I daren’t tell you about here), the wonderful mini-opera with Teena Marie Fire And Desire , a ballad about breaking hearts. Better leave it there, but will run a review of The Confessions Of Rick James soon.


The remaining albums are the Jackson 5’s second album ABC from 1970; Smokey Robinson’s third solo album in 1975 Quiet Storm; The Supremes’ 1966 I Hear A Symphony and Erykah Badu’s Baduizm.

DIANA - Queen of Motown

Let’s talk Diana Ross, again: The Queen Of Motown (which incidentally is the title of a book penned by Ian Phillips due for publication later this year) is to headline this year’s Symphonica In Rosso, Holland’s 4th annual Symphony In Red gala. The dates are 16 and 17 October; the venue, the Gelredome Stadium in Arnhem, and Diana will perform with a 40-strong orchestra before an estimated 29,000 strong audience. “..I’m really looking forward to sharing this experience with the Netherlands” she said. “I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the Dutch audiences, they’ve always given me a wonderful welcome.“ She will sing all her major titles during a show which, she said, will be “one of the biggest productions imaginable”. Just recently Diana has been wowing audiences at The MGM Grand, at the Foxwoods resort in Mashantucket. Wearing a red sequined gown she opened her show with I’m Coming Out, back by two support singers and a five piece band. Slipping into The Supremes’ material with ease, like Baby Love, Where Did Our Love Go, Love Child and so on, she wove her way through her solo work to include the diamonds Touch Me In The Morning, The Boss and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough among others, collecting several standing ovations during her 85-minute set. I’d check out if you want more information about the Dutch concert. However, I do wish Diana would come over here to join in Motown’s celebrations... can anyone persuade her please? And is she duetting with Barbra Streisand in the near future? No, I don’t know either.

My late nights and dancing days may be on the back burner these days (and yes I was a bit of a goer, you ‘d better believe it!) Anyhows, there’s loads of funky young people – and funky energetic people too – who love to party. Well, here’s just the place. On 3 June, at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, 172 Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, London SE11, DJ Juggy Jones will be delving into the archives to bring alive a brand new monthly club night called Shake Your Tail Feather. Yes, Motown music will be on tap. Entrance is free before 9pm, then it’ll be a fiver if you want more info.

While on the subject of partying, do pop by the newly created Magic Of Motown Facebook. The Magic of Motown is a touring production which we’ve talked about before and, indeed, I saw the Brighton show, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of our favourite record company. Hailing from the States, this 15 strong cast bring alive Motown hit after hit in their non-stop tribute. If you’re like me, a little wary of Facebook, then go into to see if the show is coming your way in the future. However, I’m listing below the dates for the next few weeks, so eyes down:

5th June – Empire Theatre, Consett

6th - Gracie Fields Theatre, Rochdale

12th – Theatre Royal, Windsor

13th – Cliffs Pavilion, Southend

18th – Theatre Royal, Wakefield

19th – Music Hall, Aberdeen

20th – Rhodes Arts Complex, Bishops Stortford

4th July – Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Charlene Duncan & Clive Richardson


For the second month running, here’s our rolling section What Motown’s 50th Anniversary Means To Me and, I have to say, I’m thrilled to bits to present Miss Charlene Duncan whose rise to fame was quite extraordinary. A radio DJ in Tampa, Florida began playing I’ve Never Been To Me which had originally been released as a single in 1974. Very soon the station’s switchboard was jammed with calls from listeners wanting to buy the song. Motown obliged. By now, Charlene was living over here, her music career all but forgotten, but when the single shot to the UK pole position in 1982, she dusted off her microphone and re-joined the music business for a while. To me Motown was and still is one of the most influential record labels in the world. The style, the creativity and the people. When I came to the label it was a dream come true; just to be able to meet some of the incredible artists who I looked up to and who influenced me in my years of singing, and to top it off, I was able to work with some of them. As far as the 50th is concerned, Never a doubt in my mind that , this powerhouse called Motown would stand the test of time and be considered a label that would touch the world.

From a singer to a guy who spun the records. And I’m equally as delighted to introduce - Mr Clive Richardson who not only is a top London DJ, working primarily for Radio Solar, but he’s a leading force behind Shout Records, and is due to have his first book Really Saying Something – Memoirs Of A Soul Survivor printed this year. This landmark anniversary gives me mixed feelings. As a teenager of the 1960s whose musical taste was molded by the captivating beat, energy and emotion of the Motown Sound, particularly as it gained a foothold in England, I am thankful that the output of the studio on Detroit’s West Grand Boulevard brought me into contact with so many other fans in London via the pioneering efforts of the late Dave Godin. Conversely, 50 years of Motown brings me close to qualifying for my State pension, but I will be eternally grateful to Berry Gordy Jr for providing such a vital spark in my life, and helping create so many enduring friendships through the decades. “It’s what’s in the grooves that counts”, but it’s what’s in the heart and soul of the listener that helps!

And finally...

Our love and heartfelt congratulations to Chris Blackwell and Island Records who are also celebrating 50 years in the music business. A very special time for us all.

Love You
Sharon Davis xxx

Please feel free to contact SHARON DAVIS at B&S with any Motown news that you feel would benefit others - Thank you.

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