Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

Welcome To B&S




The Supremes Exhiibition is in Blackpool
The Supremes Exhiibition is in Blackpool Supremes: Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard and Diana Ross The Four Tops Levi Stubbs Remembered Smokey Robinson: No 20 in 'All Time Best Singers Chart' Stevie Wonder: No9 in 'All Time Best Singers Chart' Marvin Gaye: No6 in 'All Time Best Singer Chart' Jheryl Busby (Former Motown Records) FOUR TOPS: REACH OUT DEFINITIVE PERFORMANCES 1965 – 1973 DVD El Debarge facing Prison (and not for his fashion sense funnily enough) Motown 50; TODAY, TOMORROW, FOREVER CD... But not what we voted for!!! Motown: Complete No1's - 10 cd Boxset - Beautiful! Motown: Complete No1's - 10 cd Boxset - A must have! Motown: Complete No1's - 10 cd Boxset - Perfect! Diana Ross: Surrender - 1971 Alternative Cover Gloria Jones: Share My Love... Possible Re-release through Reel Music and a Tour... 40th Birthday of Stevie's Sign, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours Stevie Wonder: For Once In My Life - Being inducted in to the Grammy Hall of  Fame this year Stevie Wonder: Songs In The Key Of Life was added to the National Recording Registry

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your response to our return was overwhelmingly fantastic. New friends have joined old friends, so welcome one and all. I’ve always said Motown fans are the best in the world, certainly the most loyal that’s for sure. And, yes, tis good to be back, although I have to say, it feels like I’ve never been away. Silly really. Anyway, to work.


Had a note from Lynda Laurence after she’d read the first MT. It included “You’ll never know how much I appreciate you putting my beloved father on your site. Thank you. I miss him terribly and as he would say ‘you’ve got to do your gig baby.’ “ She also mentioned that as well as celebrating Motown 50, there’s another anniversary - “in 2009 ‘Signed Sealed Delivered' will be 40 years old. Stevie said that out of all the songs that he’s done he gets the most requests for that one! I’m so proud of that because I had the pleasure of stepping out in the BGV’s.” Staying with The Supremes for a bit, one of the late Florence Ballard’s gowns was recently auctioned via ebay. It was a yellow satin one festooned with yellow feathers, although some were missing apparently. Originally auctioned by Phillips of New York during December 1988, it was sold for $700.00 + $20.00 postage on ebay a couple of months ago. It really amazes me how these things crop up from time to time. Where have they been? Who keeps these things? I also noticed while skipping through this site that some of the TCB magazines which I either edited or helped write are up for sale, and Carly Saunders bid nearly £15 to get her hands on one of the original Four Tops Fan Club membership cards which could be used to get backstage to see the group when they toured here. The membership was five bob!! What’s that you say? Very cheap by today’s standards! And, before I forget, Mary Wilson’s frocks are now in Blackpool, being displayed in the Grundy Art Gallery. The exhibition will be there until January; it’s a must-see.

There’s a review of the Four Tops Reach Out – Definitive Performances 1965-1973 DVD somewhere around the website, so won’t say any more now, except to invite you to look at the first line on the back of the packaging. What I wanted to say, however, is when I looked through the Order of Service for Levi Stubbs’ funeral I was instantly drawn by the front cover which – underneath a smiling picture of Levi – were the words - ‘Sunrise: June 6, 1936 and Sunset: October 17, 2008. Just think that’s such a touching way to refer to birth and death. During the ceremony Smokey Robinson, Berry Gordy, Martha Reeves and the Rev Jessie Jackson shared their memories, while Emanuel “EJ” Johnson sang “Wind Beneath My Wings”, Ollie Woodson sang “Walk Around Heaven” and Jean Carne performed “Hero”. Claudette Robinson read the obituary, and was one of many who paid their respects to Levi in song and prayer. A tribute from his children was included in the Order of Service using different Four Tops’ song titles in the essay, but it was the following phrase that got to me – “God saw you getting tired – and a cure was not to be. So He put His arms around you – and whispered ‘come to me’.” And I regret to tell you, that’s also true of another recent passing - 59 year old Jheryl Busby, former Motown Records president and chief executive. He was found dead in a hot tub in his Malibu home on 4 November. I think, he joined Motown in 1988 and was responsible for signing artists like Johnny Gill and Boyz II Men. Queen Latifah as well, I believe.

Oh dear, here we go again. El DeBarge has been imprisoned for two long years. Following a drug bust in Los Angeles, when he was allegedly found with crack cocaine on his person, which in turn violated his probation from a 2007 drug case, he has been locked up in the California State Prison in Lancaster. Guess he won’t be joining in any 50th anniversary celebrations then! From El to Smokey and much happier circumstances. I don’t know how viable this now is but it’s kinda fun to tell. I came across the Smokey Robinson Foods – Soulful And Delicious website. Inspired by dishes Smokey discovered while touring, and with food never being far from his mind, he sought out famous and unknown cooks/chefs during his travels. Check these out for names of some of his dishes – Soul In The Bowl, Seafood Gumbo, Down Home Pot Roast, and Chicken and Chicken sausage Gumbo. And from Smokey to The Rolling Stone magazine which recently printed the 100 Greatest Singers Of All Time. Aretha Franklin is in the pole position, with Ray Charles at two. Motown’s flag is also flying high because Marvin is 6th, Stevie 9th, Smokey 20th, Michael Jackson 25th, Gladys Knight 51st, David Ruffin 65th, and Frankie Valli at 80th. (Dusty Springfield was 35th!)

I wasn’t going to mention this, but find I can’t help myself. Remember the Poll the People invitation where we could vote for our favourite Motown tracks? The poll ran throughout October, and we all voted didn’t we? The results weren’t what we expected were they - the track listing is slightly different from the list advertised because, we’re told, some of the tracks couldn’t be cleared by Motown and/or the artists, and because we voted for too many Diana Ross/Supremes tracks some of them had to be excluded otherwise one of the cds would have ended up as a Diana Ross and the Supremes’ Best Of… So? Does that matter? What does matter is that what we voted for isn’t really represented on the release known as Motown 50 – Today, Tomorrow, Forever. To then add 11 cover-versions is tantamount to scandalous. Things like Thelma Houston’s “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (which as wonderful as it is, isn’t strictly a Motown song, having been recorded for her “Sunshower” album, produced by Jimmy Webb and released on the Dunhill label), David Ruffin’s “Put A Little Love In Your Heart” or Kim Weston/Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love)” (yeh, that’s right!) from the “Take Two” album. On the up-side here, it’s good to see three Stevie Wonder tracks included ie “Superstition”, “Sir Duke” and “Masterblaster (Jammin)”. I write ‘good’ because the singer rarely gives permission for his material after 1970 to be included on compilations. (They are included on “Motown: The Complete No 1s” so I suppose it’s only fair they should show up here.) Loyal Motown fan Simon Bell wrote to me about this release, and what I can print went something like this - “I would have thought that this album’s target audience were diehard fans like me. I picked it up in HMV, reeled in horror and put it back disgusted. ..I guess I already own all the classic tracks, so what the hell! “ Simon’s website DustyDevotedly is a must because not only does he talk about the lady (obviously) but soul music news and views. “Motown 50 – Today, Tomorrow, Forever” is available now and despite what I’ve just written, when I hear the opening bars of “Dancing In The street” on the tv advertisement it still sends a thrill to my very soul, and no matter how many times I’ve seen the bloody advert, I have to watch it just one mo’ time!

One album that has instantly caught my attention is Diana Ross’ 'Surrender', her third solo album, produced by Ashford & Simpson. Soon to be available, but not by Universal/UK, this release has been expanded, remastered and contains bonus tracks, like 'Baby I’ll Come' which was the only unreleased track from the original sessions. Others are alternate vocals or mixes or both, like 'Remember Me', 'Reach Out And Touch Somebody’s Hand' and 'Reach Out I’ll Be There.' However, what I’m longing to hear is Valerie Simpson’s original, or demo vocal, of 'Remember Me'. It’ll be astonishing I know, just like Thelma Houston’s original of 'Do You Know Where You’re Going To (Theme From Mahogany)'. Blues & Soul’s David Nathan wrote the cd notes; another plus. Let’s stick with cds for a second so’s I can mention January’s proposed releases. The 'Complete Motown Singles Vol 11B – 5 CD Box Set', and a 'Love Songs' series which will include one cd each from the Commodores, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Supremes, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Jackson 5. Also scheduled is 'Magnificent: The Complete Studio Duets' by The Supremes and the Four Tops. Apparently, it’s a 2 cd package. The teaming up of these two groups, following on from the success of Diana Ross/Supremes with The Temptations, might not have been as financially successful, but the music was great. So this is another I eagerly await to hear, but it’s unclear whether the titles will be released here.

Meant to have written this before, but Reel Music, a small US label which licenses product from Motown that they’re not interested in releasing themselves, were responsible for the recent cds by Yvonne Fair and Bettye Lavette. The label is now planning/hoping to issue one by Gloria Jones. Probably “Share My Love” from 1973. My vinyl copy of it is scratched to smitherines but I can almost enjoy “Try Love”, one of the best songs she’s ever recorded. Talking of Ms Jones, she emailed me to say she’s hoping to get a tour together with some of her Motown colleagues. The plan is to tour over here and possibly Europe. Watch this space for more information.


Now let’s talk Stevie Wonder. His version of 'For Once In My Life' is among 28 titles that will be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame this year. The Hall honours recordings of lasting significance. Also, Mr Wonder is the second recipient of the US Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. (Paul Simon was the first in 2007) He’ll be presented with the award on 23 February 2009 in the Library’s Great Hall, with a celebratory concert planned for the following evening. Stevie has also accepted the Library’s offer of a musical commission, which will take him into the exclusive circle of composers who include Leonard Bernstein. “It’s an immense privilege to join such a remarkable roster of musicians and composers” Stevie told the media. “I am touched to receive this honour and look forward to creating music for the celebration.” By the way, in 2005, his 1976 masterpiece 'Songs In The Key Of Life' was added to the National Recording Registry which recognises albums that are regarded as “culturally, historically or aesthetically important and/or inform or reflect life in the United States.”


I’m looking at the cutest little house ever. Not just any old property but one that has Hitsville USA proudly displayed across the front window. Yep, tis a replica of Motown’s original headquarters. And it represents 'Motown: The Complete No.1s', released this month. Inside the little cardboard house is a treasure trove of tracks; over two hundred to be precise housed in ten digi-paks (no, I wasn’t sure what that meant either, but you hold onto one end and the packaging drops down!) but not all were number one titles for Motown acts. I’ll explain, there’s 191 charttopping titles – both mainstream and R&B - and ten bonus tracks of cover versions which were also number ones - like Jimmy Ruffin’s original of 'What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted' was a 1992 US number one for Paul Young, and over here was included in a charttopping medley from Robson and Jerome in 1996. Like I’d know this! Or, try another. 'Dancing In The Street' was an international number one by David Bowie and Mick Jagger in 1985. Wasn’t it specially recorded for Live Aid? I seem to recall two blokes prancing around each other on the promotional video. Martha, who with the Vandellas, recorded the original was thrilled to pieces that they had chosen the song, but was upset when some people believed it to be the original! By the way, the number of Motown artists whose records have coveted the pole position or inspired a number one cover version is – 50!!! Anyway, a lavish booklet is enclosed in this beautiful anniversary collectors’ item with an introduction from Smokey Robinson. In his essay he writes this is what Motown’s all about, back-to-back hits; not black music but music for everybody. “..these number 1's meant money and fame and changing the music business. They also helped change the world.” Many glorious visuals are included, some we’ve seen, others not, but what is lacking are pictures of artists like Val Young, the Isley Brothers, Brenda Holloway, Edwin Starr, the Originals..perhaps a little less Supremes, Stevie and Marvin, you guys? Had to be written! The box set is (naturally) a bit pricey – HMV have got it listed at £59.99 (type in Motown: Complete No 1s), comes with free postage. If that’s too much for your budget, I’ve been told that on January 12 the compilation 'Now That’s What I Call Motown' will be issued. It will contain 25 classic Motown tracks but I don’t know any more just now. Meantime, a more extensive review of 'Motown:The Complete No1s' will follow elsewhere.


Also planned for January are several radio programmes. Jim Stewart sent me the following BBC Radio 2 rundown, starting on...

1st - January with Motown – 30 at 50.

2nd – Motown Record Producers;.

3rd - Sounds Of The Sixties Special.

5th, 12th, 19th, 26th - January and 2nd, 9th February – Hitsville USA: 50 Years Of Heart And Soul.

6th – The King Of Motown:Berry Gordy.

6th, 13th, 20th, 27th January – Stubborn Kind Of Fella: Remembering Marvin Gaye.

10th – Motorcity Blues: Detroit, Its Music And Its People.

13th and 20th – The Motown Invasion.

17th – The Sound Of Young America: A Global Inspiration.

This is correct at my time of writing but do check the listings nearer the time. There’s other projects in the pipeline, of course, but I don’t have details yet. However, Berry Gordy told Billboard magazine that he plans to celebrate the anniversary for two years from December 9th 2008. In the works is a documentary planned for September, about which he spoke to Gary Graff – “It’s about me and not only what I did and how I did it, but how I felt doing it, and what it was that happened, from my standpoint.” Among the special items earmarked for this documentary is footage of a video-taped session from one of Motown’s famed weekly Quality Control meetings where staff can be seen arguing over the viability of releasing The Temptations’ 'My Girl'. He also confirmed that a Broadway musical about his company is due to open in 2010. “I’ve been fighting to protect the legacy for fifty years and now it seems that…we can about what really happened….I’m just thrilled that I’m here to enjoy now what I couldn’t enjoy while I was doing it.” The Motown Historical Museum intends to present a series of events and to date has pencilled in an In Their Own Words series with Motown alumni starting on 12 January; a Marvin Gaye exhibition during April, while rounding off the year with a concert to beat all concerts. Oh, and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and Museum will open an exhibition to pay tribute to Motown’s artists. If you happen to know of any other activities, so email me with details and I’ll pass it on.


And, before we run out of space, let me pass on to you the titles of the 25 limited edition 7” singles due to be released in batches of five during January, March, May, July and September next year. It seems if you buy all five batches you’ll qualify for a Motown presentation box to put ‘em all in. So, here they are in order –


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

Four Tops – Something About You/The Temptations – Get Ready


Marv Johnson – I’ll Pick A Rose/Jimmy Ruffin – Gonna Give Her All The Love I Got

Martha and the Vandellas – No One There/Gladys Knight and the Pips – Help Me Make It Through The Night

Edwin Starr – My Weakness Is You/Chris Clark – Love’s Gone Bad

The Undisputed Truth – Smiling Faces Sometimes/The Supremes – Nathan Jones

Michael Jackson – Ain’t No Sunshine/The Jackson 5 – The Love You Save


Diana Ross – I’m Still Waiting/Thelma Houston – Don’t Leave Me This Way

Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell – You Ain’t Livin’ Till You’re Lovin’

Marvin Gaye/Diana Ross – My Mistake (Was To Love You)

Rick James – Super Freak/Teena Marie – I’m A Sucker For Your Love

Marvin Gaye – Love Starved Heart/Frank Wilson – Do I Love You

Stevie Wonder – I Was Made To Love Her/Shorty Long – Here Comes The Judge


Jr Walker and the All Stars – Walk In The Night/The Miracles – Love Machine

Smokey Robinson – Cruisin’/Charlene – I’ve Never Been To Me

Yvonne Fair – It Should Have Been Me/ Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – The Night

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – Come Round Here (I’m The One You Need)/Tammi Terrell – Come On And See Me

Billy Eckstine – I Wonder Why/Barbara McNair – You’re Gonna Love My Baby


The Motown Spinners – It’s A Shame/Chuck Jackson – What Am I Gonna Do

The Isley Brothers – Tell Me It’s Just A Rumour/ The Elgins – Put Yourself In My Place

R Dean Taylor – Indiana Wants Me/David Ruffin – Walk Away From Love

Commodores – Three Times A Lady/Lionel Richie – Truly

The Supremes and The Temptatiions – I’m Gonna Make You Love Me/The Supremes and the Four Tops – You Gotta Have Love In Your Heart

Phew! So that’s them at the time of going to print. So, all that’s left now is for me to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a faith-ful 2009. I’m hoping we’ll journey through the next two years together, enjoying the delights being prepared for us to celebrate one of the greatest occasions of all time – Motown’s 50th anniversary.

Merry Christmas one and all!
Love you…
Sharon Davis

Feel free to contact SHARON DAVIS at B&S with any Motown news that you feel would benefit others. Cheers!

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

Join the B&S Mailing List

Blues and Soul on Twitter