Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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SHARON DAVIS' MOTOWN TRACKING COLUMN

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 â 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. Iâve always said Motown fans are the best in the world, certainly the most loyal thatâs for sure. And, yes, tis good to be back, although I have to say, it feels like Iâve never been away. Silly really. Anyway, to work.

MOTOWN NEWS

Had a note from Lynda Laurence after sheâd read the first MT. It included âYouâll 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 âyouâve got to do your gig baby.â â She also mentioned that as well as celebrating Motown 50, thereâs another anniversary - âin 2009 âSigned Sealed Delivered' will be 40 years old. Stevie said that out of all the songs that heâs done he gets the most requests for that one! Iâm so proud of that because I had the pleasure of stepping out in the BGVâs.â Staying with The Supremes for a bit, one of the late Florence Ballardâs 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!! Whatâs that you say? Very cheap by todayâs standards! And, before I forget, Mary Wilsonâs frocks are now in Blackpool, being displayed in the Grundy Art Gallery. The exhibition will be there until January; itâs a must-see.

Thereâs a review of the Four Tops Reach Out â Definitive Performances 1965-1973 DVD somewhere around the website, so wonât 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 Stubbsâ funeral I was instantly drawn by the front cover which â underneath a smiling picture of Levi â were the words - âSunrise: June 6, 1936 and Sunset: October 17, 2008. Just think thatâs 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 âEJâ Johnson sang âWind Beneath My Wingsâ, Ollie Woodson sang âWalk Around Heavenâ and Jean Carne performed âHeroâ. 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 Topsâ song titles in the essay, but it was the following phrase that got to me â âGod saw you getting tired â and a cure was not to be. So He put His arms around you â and whispered âcome to meâ.â And I regret to tell you, thatâs 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 wonât be joining in any 50th anniversary celebrations then! From El to Smokey and much happier circumstances. I donât know how viable this now is but itâs kinda fun to tell. I came across the Smokey Robinson Foods â 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 â 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. Motownâs 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 wasnât going to mention this, but find I canât 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 didnât we? The results werenât what we expected were they - the track listing is slightly different from the list advertised because, weâre told, some of the tracks couldnât 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 Supremesâ Best Of⦠So? Does that matter? What does matter is that what we voted for isnât really represented on the release known as Motown 50 â Today, Tomorrow, Forever. To then add 11 cover-versions is tantamount to scandalous. Things like Thelma Houstonâs âJumpinâ Jack Flashâ (which as wonderful as it is, isnât strictly a Motown song, having been recorded for her âSunshowerâ album, produced by Jimmy Webb and released on the Dunhill label), David Ruffinâs âPut A Little Love In Your Heartâ or Kim Weston/Marvin Gayeâs âLetâs Do It (Letâs Fall In Love)â (yeh, thatâs right!) from the âTake Twoâ album. On the up-side here, itâs good to see three Stevie Wonder tracks included ie âSuperstitionâ, âSir Dukeâ and âMasterblaster (Jammin)â. I write âgoodâ because the singer rarely gives permission for his material after 1970 to be included on compilations. (They are included on âMotown: The Complete No 1sâ so I suppose itâs 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 - âI would have thought that this albumâs 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! â Simonâs website DustyDevotedly is a must because not only does he talk about the lady (obviously) but soul music news and views. âMotown 50 â Today, Tomorrow, Foreverâ is available now and despite what Iâve just written, when I hear the opening bars of âDancing In The streetâ on the tv advertisement it still sends a thrill to my very soul, and no matter how many times Iâve seen the bloody advert, I have to watch it just one moâ time!

One album that has instantly caught my attention is Diana Rossâ '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 Iâll 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 Somebodyâs Hand' and 'Reach Out Iâll Be There.' However, what Iâm longing to hear is Valerie Simpsonâs original, or demo vocal, of 'Remember Me'. Itâll be astonishing I know, just like Thelma Houstonâs original of 'Do You Know Where Youâre Going To (Theme From Mahogany)'. Blues & Soulâs David Nathan wrote the cd notes; another plus. Letâs stick with cds for a second soâs I can mention Januaryâs proposed releases. The 'Complete Motown Singles Vol 11B â 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, itâs 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 itâs 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 theyâre 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 âShare My Loveâ from 1973. My vinyl copy of it is scratched to smitherines but I can almost enjoy âTry Loveâ, one of the best songs sheâs ever recorded. Talking of Ms Jones, she emailed me to say sheâs 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.

STEVIE WONDER

Now letâs 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) Heâll be presented with the award on 23 February 2009 in the Libraryâs Great Hall, with a celebratory concert planned for the following evening. Stevie has also accepted the Libraryâs offer of a musical commission, which will take him into the exclusive circle of composers who include Leonard Bernstein. âItâs an immense privilege to join such a remarkable roster of musicians and composersâ Stevie told the media. âI am touched to receive this honour and look forward to creating music for the celebration.â 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 âculturally, historically or aesthetically important and/or inform or reflect life in the United States.â

MOTOWN MUST HAVE OF THE MONTH

Iâm 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 Motownâs 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 wasnât 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. Iâll explain, thereâs 191 charttopping titles â both mainstream and R&B - and ten bonus tracks of cover versions which were also number ones - like Jimmy Ruffinâs 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 Iâd know this! Or, try another. 'Dancing In The Street' was an international number one by David Bowie and Mick Jagger in 1985. Wasnât 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 â 50!!! Anyway, a lavish booklet is enclosed in this beautiful anniversary collectorsâ item with an introduction from Smokey Robinson. In his essay he writes this is what Motownâs all about, back-to-back hits; not black music but music for everybody. â..these number 1's meant money and fame and changing the music business. They also helped change the world.â Many glorious visuals are included, some weâve 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 â HMV have got it listed at £59.99 (type in Motown: Complete No 1s), comes with free postage. If thatâs too much for your budget, Iâve been told that on January 12 the compilation 'Now Thatâs What I Call Motown' will be issued. It will contain 25 classic Motown tracks but I donât know any more just now. Meantime, a more extensive review of 'Motown:The Complete No1s' will follow elsewhere.

RADIO, MUSICAL & EXHIBITION

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

1st - January with Motown â 30 at 50.

2nd â Motown Record Producers;.

3rd - Sounds Of The Sixties Special.

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

6th â The King Of Motown:Berry Gordy.

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

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

13th and 20th â The Motown Invasion.

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

This is correct at my time of writing but do check the listings nearer the time. Thereâs other projects in the pipeline, of course, but I donât 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 â âItâs 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.â Among the special items earmarked for this documentary is footage of a video-taped session from one of Motownâs famed weekly Quality Control meetings where staff can be seen arguing over the viability of releasing The Temptationsâ 'My Girl'. He also confirmed that a Broadway musical about his company is due to open in 2010. âIâve been fighting to protect the legacy for fifty years and now it seems thatâ¦we can ..talk about what really happenedâ¦.Iâm just thrilled that Iâm here to enjoy now what I couldnât enjoy while I was doing it.â 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 ânâ Roll Hall of Fame and Museum will open an exhibition to pay tribute to Motownâs artists. If you happen to know of any other activities, so email me with details and Iâll pass it on.

MOTOWN 25 LIMITED EDITION SINGLES

And, before we run out of space, let me pass on to you the titles of the 25 limited edition 7â 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 youâll qualify for a Motown presentation box to put âem all in. So, here they are in order â

January

Barrett Strong â Money/The Contours â Do You Love Me

Mary Wells â My Guy/Carolyn Crawford â My Smile Is Just A Frown (Turned Upside Down)

Brenda Holloway â Just Look What You Have Done/The Supremes â Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart

The Velvelettes â Lonely Lonely Girl/The Marvelettes â Iâll Keep Holding On

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

March

Marv Johnson â Iâll Pick A Rose/Jimmy Ruffin â Gonna Give Her All The Love I Got

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

Edwin Starr â My Weakness Is You/Chris Clark â Loveâs Gone Bad

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

Michael Jackson â Ainât No Sunshine/The Jackson 5 â The Love You Save

May

Diana Ross â Iâm Still Waiting/Thelma Houston â Donât Leave Me This Way

Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell â You Ainât Livinâ Till Youâre Lovinâ

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

Rick James â Super Freak/Teena Marie â Iâm A Sucker For Your Love

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

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

July

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

Smokey Robinson â Cruisinâ/Charlene â Iâve Never Been To Me

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

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles â Come Round Here (Iâm The One You Need)/Tammi Terrell â Come On And See Me

Billy Eckstine â I Wonder Why/Barbara McNair â Youâre Gonna Love My Baby

September

The Motown Spinners â Itâs A Shame/Chuck Jackson â What Am I Gonna Do

The Isley Brothers â Tell Me Itâs Just A Rumour/ The Elgins â Put Yourself In My Place

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

Commodores â Three Times A Lady/Lionel Richie â Truly

The Supremes and The Temptatiions â Iâm Gonna Make You Love Me/The Supremes and the Four Tops â You Gotta Have Love In Your Heart

Phew! So thatâs them at the time of going to print. So, all thatâs left now is for me to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a faith-ful 2009. Iâm hoping weâll journey through the next two years together, enjoying the delights being prepared for us to celebrate one of the greatest occasions of all time â Motownâs 50th anniversary.

Merry Christmas one and all!
Love youâ¦
Sharon Davis

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

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