Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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BRINGING YOU THE STORIES BEHIND MUSIC + ESSENTIAL NEWS, REVIEWS AND INTERVIEWS

Column

Sharon Davis' 2011 Motown Tracking Retrospective

Sharon Davis' Motown Tracking (January 2012)
Sharon Davis' Motown Tracking (January 2012) Marvin Gaye: What's Going On Teena Marie @bluesandsoul.com F.L.O.S @bluesandsoul.com Tata Vega @bluesandsoul.com Ashford & Simpson @bluesandsoul.com Marv Tarplin @bluesandsoul.com Gladys Horton @bluesandsoul.com Steve Mancha @bluesandsoul.com

I’m starting this page while taking time out on the Isle of Wight. To be precise I’m staying at St Helens where the view from my window is the sun shining on Bembridge Harbour. It’s the most magical sight! Trouble is I can’t finish this MT because I’ve left the files in my office. But, hey, at least it’s started.

2011 A YEAR TO ERR... REMEMBER

Am playing the Dazz Band’s Hot Spot cd. Hah, why is it that every time I think about this group Let It Whip springs to mind? Anyway, originally scheduled for June ’85 release, this cd was canned although its title was issued as a single in June of that year. A welcome release this: it’s fun funk/R&B, jetting listeners back to the eighties’ Motown groove. A compulsive and successful sound from a group that started out as Kinsman Dazz and who went on to release seven albums under the Motown banner. A special disco remix of another of my favourites is included in the bonus tracks here – Let It All Blow. One mo’ time with feeling y’all!

Hard to credit it I know, but another year of our lives has almost gone. I hope you’ve lived the day because they don’t return. Christmas is just round the corner, so I guess it won’t be long before we’re standing round the tree sipping warm mulled wine. Eh? Can’t stand the stuff myself! Anyway, here’s some reflections of a year just passed; a sad one because we lost so many friends, starting with Teena Marie, followed by Gladys Horton, Steve Mancha, Nick Ashford, Marv Tarplin and my friend with the Rod Stewart haircut. Then in January the snow took hold as artic conditions set in. Even Martha Reeves was stranded at London’s Heathrow due to adverse weather conditions. She wasn’t happy! Well, would you be?

And didn’t David Gest’s name crop up a lot this year? I think the first time I mentioned him was in February when he organised a massive ‘do’ to benefit the Variety Club Children’s Charity thingie. Oh, and despite high hopes, nothing happened in the High Inergy camp – dammit. Then in March, and after much ado, The Supremes – Let Yourself Go: The 70s Albums Vol 2 – The Final Sessions was released. Methinks this wonderland of a package was a crucial part in the trio’s history which really needed to be documented in music. There’s a lot more to The Supremes than the Diana Ross led hits folks! This release is long overdue because it’s a vital piece of the jigsaw that moreorless rounded off the career of Motown’s top female group. I understand that this wasn’t greeted with open arms by some, but I’m happy if the ladies are. Diana herself, meantime, appeared on Opray Winfrey’s US chat show and wowed her audience with her honesty - and lack of make up.

The Lewis Sisters! Now that was one of the pieces I loved writing this year. Kay and Helen were a bit of an enigma, and I’m sure some folks thought they were a figment of a producer’s imagination. During the years I’ve been banging on about them I’ve had some funny comments thrown my way suggesting I was as mad as a hatter! Bloody cheek!!! But hey, these girls were real enough! Please play You Need Me …see, it’s starting all over again! Then What’s Going On celebrated its 40th birthday and I wrote at length about the huge significance of Marvin Gaye’s original release (as if you needed me to tell you!). And didn’t we further celebrate with the magnificent – and expensive – package of the original album, plus a pair of cds (the remastered album, and the Detroit instrumental sessions) with loads of bonus tracks. It’s difficult to know how to celebrate such anniversaries, particularly when the artist is no longer with us, but I guess Motown did us proud. Anyway, as that MT attracted good response, decided to devote June’s edition to Tata Vega as another sort of celebration surrounding the release of her first two Motown albums – “Full Speed Ahead” and Totally Tata. This led to another ‘special’ with the mouth watering releases from Marv Johnson, the Satintones, Patrice Holloway and The Monitors. Never thought the day would dawn when I’d be hearing this music again. The number of releases during the year was, to be frank, rather abysmal – again. And I have to say I’ve really missed receiving emails and Motown cds from Dave Clarke over at Planet because he’s a man with a soul, for sure. To be honest, if it wasn’t for companies like Kent/Ace, funkytowngrooves, reel music, soulmusic.com and all, Motown releases would be a shitty zilch. OK, some re-issues we may not agree with, and aren’t to some people’s liking, but one of Motown’s attractions is its catalogue, from which artists also gain financially. As a sweetener for the sceptics there’s usually a handful of bonus tracks to make some re-issues more attractive. Anyway, it’s been hinted to me that another company could enter the licensing arena early in 2012, and if this is the case, then, watch out. Sssh, can’t say anymore here….

Towards the end of 2011 I wasn’t amused to see one of my personal e-addresses published for all the world to see on the internet. I believe I wrote that moan in the same breath as my feelings of aghast about Facebook. Hell, guess what? I’m now on the latter. Can fight you no more Mr Editor!! Hee hee, or should that be, ho ho ho…

And finally...

Well, nearly with a big drum roll, we launched the B&S magazine at the Vintage Festival in August. The first of our bi-monthly issues following the runaway success of the first one last year. It’s a tremendous leap for mankind and with your continued support, will grow and grow. Doubles the workload of course, but we’re used to deadlines, or in my case, chasing them! Thank you, thank you for sharing 2011 with us at B&S because without your support we wouldn’t be here.

Listen, there’s so much more I could write but I know space is precious in this very special edition. So what for 2012 I hear you ask? Well, with hand on heart, will provide the best I can for Motown folk and beyond, so do stay with me. Am hoping the release of Motown cds and dvds will step up, that some far sighted person comes up with a solid idea to present a Motown musical, and that artists like Chris Clark, Thelma Houston, The Former Ladies of the Supremes will return for another divas show. Maybe include Tata Vega and Gloria Jones this time. And I’m planning to return to writing books, which I love, including one about my life with Motown – so brace yourself!

Peace, health and happiness to you wherever you are during 2012. Love is all we need.

SHARON DAVIS

Please feel free to contact me at motowntracking@sky.com if you would like to share any Motown news which you feel would benefit others - Thank you

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