Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Magnificent: The Complete Studio Duets The Supremes & The Four Tops
Magnificent: The Complete Studio Duets The Supremes & The Four Tops RIP COLIN BURN  (WITH THANKS TO GORDON FREWIN) The Michael Jackson Exhibition at the o2 Jackson 5: I Want You Back! Unreleased Masters Jackson 5: The Ultimate Christmas Collection The Ultimate Motown Chrismas Collection We Love Diana Ross: The Remix Collection The Supremes Florence Ballard sent in by Nick Strange Smokey Robinson at the BBC's Electric Proms (@Roundhouse) Motown 25: Yesterday: Today: Forever Motown: The Definitive Performances DVD A Complete Introduction To Tamla Motown Felix Mensah Lynda Laurence (Former lady of the Supremes)

Guess what I’m listening to? A project I’ve been on about for ages… 'The Supremes and the Four Tops 'Magnificent: The Complete Studio Duets' Review I think I’ve actually bored myself by ranting on about it to all and everybody. “It’s Impossible” is on now, with Levi Stubbs and Jean Terrell exchanging leads; rather cheesy but, by god, what incredible voices they have. Listen to Lawrence Payton scat – priceless! Anyway, must get on…


A bit of sad news first. Colin Burn who was general man, passed away last month. He was 76 years old. Colin was an easy guy to like and admire; he was a music man through and through, with a vast knowledge of all musical genres. His business approach was slightly unorthodox, yet his promotional skills were untouchable. To someone like me, a humble publicity person, he was a god, and like God his door was always open. His sense of humour touched the dark side especially where his superiors were concerned but he never let his staff down. I have many great memories of Colin, a man who made the music industry a fun place to be.

Thelma Houston, Michael Jackson Exhibition
& Jackson 5 Christmas Releases

With the recent Divas of Motown performances still a high profile, I’m mortally sorry I missed Thelma Houston at the Jazz Café because John Lester emailed me to say she sang Do You Know Where You’re Going To with the original lyrics, and it was magic! Actually, I do have an acetate stored safely away of Thelma singing this song as, I do believe, a demo for Diana Ross’s later film theme, but would have loved to hear it live. Travelling to and from London for me is a bit of a sod, and although I don’t love the city as much as I did when I lived there, I do make trips now and again. In fact, going to Hammersmith was my second visit of the Divas’ week because on the Monday, I went to see the Michael Jackson Exhibition at the Bubble in the O2. To say there were twenty of us waiting to enter would be an exaggeration, and the fact that our allotted time wasn’t honoured and we had over thirty minutes wait, didn’t endear me to the occasion at all. However, the exhibition was interesting, rather sparse perhaps (although I don’t really know what I expected to see), and if I remember rightly, dominated by clothes Michael did wear and those he intended to. Seeing some of the stage set for the This Is It tour, particularly that for Thriller was amazing. Yes, would recommend it. But, the shop avoid at all costs unless you have a mega platinum credit card. Phew. MJ memorabilia comes at a high price, so beware. Before moving on, two US cds are due for release. I Want You Back! Unreleased Masters issued to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the brothers’ first release. There’s twelve never-before-released titles here, including some which could have been hits, with alternate versions of those that were. The second is The Ultimate Christmas Collection with eleven Festive classics plus bibs and bobs like a rare MJ track Little Christmas Tree, a J5 medley, spoken greetings, and new acapella and stripped mixes from the original 1970 album. Reviews of these will be coming very soon.


Diana Ross now. Oh, before I start, my thanks again to Jim Hegarty for the review of her performance in The Netherlands, and, of course, to Cees Uri for the fab visuals, exclusive to us and to you. And to Frans de Beer who made it happen. See what I mean about Motown fans? Anyway, there’s a new album due – well, sort of. Do read on before I confuse you even more. The cd’s title is We Love Diana Ross: The Remix Collection which was, I understand, originally planned to be released by Universal, but which is now being issued by Almighty Records. According to the blurb, this was five years in the making, and the three disc package includes new mixes of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and The Boss, and exclusives of Remember Me, among other titles. There’s definitive mixes, anthem mixes, breeze mixes and goodness knows what, on songs like Lovin’, Livin’ And Givin’, Upside Down, Touch Me In The Morning and Surrender among others. I haven’t heard the music, so if you’re interested do please visit Thanks to Kevin Melville for this.


Before leaving The Supremes, my pal Nick Strange, in the US of A, sent me a couple of portraits of Florence Ballard which he painted in oil. And I thought you’d like to see one. What a tragedy her death was; so young and so talented. But - although it’s little consolation - through fans like Nick we know she’ll never be forgotten – and that’s the way it should be!


Wasn’t it a pleasure to see Mr Smokey Robinson just recently performing at the BBC’s Electric Proms staged at the Roundhouse, London? For all its faults, to have the man on prime time telly (well, nearly then) shows he’s still an exciting and vitally integral part of today’s music. He told The Telegraph’s Lisa Sweetingham that he was having a ball – “I feel better than I did at 25. My favourite part is doing the concerts because I get to see my fans. I never ever do a concert for people. I do a concert with people. They’re singing the songs and having a great time too.” In another interview he spoke about his overdue and superb new album Time Flies When You’re Having Fun which he recorded live in the studio in the old fashion way: musicians playing while he was singing. Y’know, everybody in the studio at the same time, feeding off each other, and joining together to create new music. The album features our Joss Stone on You’re The One For Me, and India.Arie and Carlos Santana on You’re Just My Life and Please Don’t Take Your Love respectively. They’re the only overdubbed voices because the tracks were already recorded with Smokey’s vocals on ‘em. “It was a joy recording with all of them” he said. Also, hidden away on the cd is a jazz-type version of I Want You Back, the Jackson 5’s first single. Smokey said the cd was actually pressed and ready to go when Michael died. He felt he needed to mark the tragedy, show his respect, but without jumping on the proverbial bandwagon – like so many. “I didn’t want people to say I was exploiting the fact that Michael died, so I didn’t even list it on the cd.” I know the release isn’t on Motown (released by Wrasse Records over here) but as Smokey once said “Once a Motowner, always a Motowner”, so that’s good enough for us, aye?!


And another release that I’ve been banging on about is this wretched Motown 25 dvd which I’d seen advertised. Anyway, to placate me and you (as if!) Hip-O-Select/Universal Music have released Motown:The DVD: Definitive Performances. This is a collection of 18 classic tv performances from some of the company’s girls and boys ranging from 1965 through to 1972, and features wonderful, unforgettable memories like The Marvelettes’ Please Mr Postman; The Contours’ Do You Love Me and Marvin Gaye’s Hitch Hike. There’s Brenda Holloway, Martha and the Vandellas, Kim Weston, Jimmy Ruffin, Edwin Starr and other magical names, alongside some special features. These include a Teen Town interview with Berry Gordy, and other chinwags. I’ll do a proper review later on. Anyway, released this month, it’s an ideal Christmas gift for the Motown fan who has everything.

Ultiimate Motown Christmas &
A Complete Intoduction To Motown

And talking of Christmas (I know, a very weak link) there’s another US compilation available - the Ultimate Motown Christmas Collection with loads of artists, tracks and messages across two cds. Among the tried and tested tracks, there’s some very tempting titles like Winter Wonderland from The Funk Brothers, Christmas Here With You from the Four Tops and Aretha Franklin, and The Twistin’ Kings’ Xmas Twist. This is the perfect background music for wrapping presents, dressing the tree, or sitting in front of an open logged fire, sipping something warm and Christimas-sy. know that the wealth of music we were promised at the beginning of 2009 hasn’t happened, and there’s nothing I can positively say about that because, believe me, I feel the same as you guys. However, I am heartened to receive news of a very special package titled A Complete Introduction To Tamla Motown featuring 100 tracks over four cds. This massive project is the brainchild of Adam White, a dear friend of many years standing, and who knows Motown inside out - and then some. Have been playing the promo of this for awhile now and (although I do tire of hearing the same-old same-old songs) was so thrilled with discs 1 featuring milestones and influences, and disc 4 containing killer B-sides. I’ve highlighted these two, because disc 2 holds the hits, while disc 3 features ‘live’ tracks from London and Paris. As you know, I’ve never been a great lover of ‘live’ albums, but readily accept it’s a huge plus for Motown people. One-hundred tracks - that’s some almighty listening party folks – so get out the wine and enjoy!


What Motown’s 50th Anniversary Means To Me...

Felix Mensah (music researcher) &
Miss Lynda Laurence (Former lady of the Supremes)

Before joining our rolling series What Motown’s 50th Anniversary Means To Me, wasn’t it nice of the Eastenders’ cast to add their own tribute to Motown’s anniversary year by singing a medley in aid of Children In Need. Could have been a lot worse, I suppose!! Anyhows, first up is music researcher Felix Mensah – "Motown is so much more to me than a label and a style of music, it is a culture and it’s a way of life. This great label has provided the soundtrack to the lives of so many people, and I just happen to be one of them. When I was growing up, the greatest hits albums of the Jackson Five, the Four Tops and Diana Ross and the Supremes, as well as 45s by Stevie, Marvin, Smokey, Martha, Lionel/Commodores, etc, were always played whilst the housework chores were done or if there was a family breakfast. And my love of this label's music intensified as I was discovering the more obscure side of it, partly due to my two elder sisters travelling to 'all-nighters' in the Midlands and in the North of England, and them purchasing obscure British and imported 45s by The Marvelettes, The Velvelettes, Chris Clark, and others. The list is endless. At such a fertile age, it certainly helped to shape my interest in music notably writing about it, as well as DJ'ing. Talking of DJ'ing, no end of people demand to hear Motown, and when those 'motor beats' are released from the turntable and booming from the sound systems, you are guaranteed a packed dance floor. The creation of the Motown empire pioneered the crossover dream, not only into the mainstream, but also into the international, market. Without the Motown breakthrough today's soul/R&B & dance derivatives would have no musical point of reference. Long live Motown! Happy 50th birthday! Thanks for the memories and the great music (both commercial and obscure) and here's to the next 50 years.”  

...And, here’s Miss Lynda Laurence – "I am amazed it has been 50 years!  Time certainly flies when you are having fun! I’m so honoured to be a part of the Motown Family.  First with Stevie, and then with The Supremes. These are two of Motown's premier acts, and I had a part in both?  Sometimes I have to really think about that.  I am humbled by that.  But mostly, my father, the late Ira Tucker played the biggest part of all.  He passed his talent on to me, and with that I was able to sing well enough to be a part of Motown Records". How great is that!

And lastly...

In the time that it takes me to get all this together (usually a week). I’ve played Magnificent several times and, although there are weak tracks for sure, this compilation is divine. And so well worth the wait. I just hope you agree.

Oh dear, have overstayed my welcome, and taken up too much space again. So, all that’s left then is for me to wish you all a lovely, peaceful and extremely special Christmas with your family and loved ones. Perhaps spare a thought for those not so lucky, and those who are spending their first Christmas without someone they love. I’ll be back in the New Year with all things Motown and then some. Hope you’ll join me.

Love you

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