Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1099

Welcome to B&S



Sharon Davis' Motown Tracking column (November)

Sharon Davis' Motown Tracking (November 2011)
Sharon Davis' Motown Tracking (November 2011) Marv Tarplin (centre) - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles Marv Tarplin Michael Jackson: The Life Of An Icon DVD Leee John: Betcha By Golly Wow Cliff Richard: Soulicious Al Abrams: Hype & Sou! Marilyn McLeod: Believe In Me Vesta Williams

Well, here we are, back on your computer screen following a short absence while I committed my words to paper in the form of our second magazine. Hope you joined us ok.


Anyway, I don’t know about you, but this year has gone by so quickly and been so sad in many respects, that I think I’ve written a tribute in almost every column. And this one is no exception I’m sorry to say, because Marv Tarplin, The Miracles’ guitarist and co-writer of several songs like Tracks Of My Tears, died last month at the age of 70 years old in Las Vegas. Back in the day, he had hung around with a local Detroit group The Primettes, who, as you know, became The Supremes. When the girls and Marv auditioned for Motown before Smokey Robinson and others, Smokey rejected the group but kept Marv for himself. And he stayed with The Miracles until Smokey left the group in the early seventies. The two guys continued to work together in the studios, notably on Cruisin’ and Being With You, and on stage, right up to 2008 it seems, when he retired to Las Vegas to live the quiet life. He also played on Smokey’s compositions for other Motown acts like Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar”, and the Four Tops’ Still Water (Love). Oh dear, another vital piece in Motown’s musical jigsaw has been lost. Marv, who is rated as one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time by Mojo magazine, left a daughter Talese from his marriage to Sylvia – who died in 2004 – and two daughters from a previous relationship. Our condolences go out to them.


The Four Tops’ Duke Fakir, Bobby Taylor, Brenda Holloway, The Temptations’ Dennis Edwards, Jimmy Ruffin, Martha Reeves and Smokey Robinson join others on Michael Jackson: The Life Of An Icon 2-disc dvd just released. I’m told David Gest has pieced together important facts about Michael’s life based on unseen first-hand accounts that were recently recorded for this dvd. In addition to celebrating his many professional achievements, the film will also answer some of the questions surrounding his life. There’s rare, in-studio and live tv footage and the soundtrack contains over 21 classics. At a quick glance, the dvd is £12.99 from Oh, talking of Michael, am currently reading his brother Jermaine’s book You Are Not Alone – Michael Through A Brother’s Eyes published by HarperCollins. A big tome with lots to it, so it’ll take awhile but a full review soon. There’s loads of pictures, plenty of private insights, and a story of brotherhood.


And talking of Brenda Holloway and Dennis Edwards – don’t you just love these links! – they’re duetting with Cliff Richard (yes, that’s right!) on his recently issued Soulicious cd. Um, Brenda sings on Do You Ever, while Dennis Edwards and The Temptations Review collaborate on Go On And Tell Him and She Looked Good. Lamont Dozier, Billy Paul, Candi Staton, and others are also featured, likewise Ashford & Simpson, and Cliff has dedicated the cd to Nick Ashford’s extraordinary talent as a writer, singer and producer. Oh yes, that reminds me, recently caught Freda Payne and Cliffy singing Saving A Life on the lunchtime chinwag programme Loose Women. Mmm. Body language wasn’t good. Apparently, this project also came together via David Gest. Check out Cliff’s interview in the new B&S magazine. Let’s move on...


Have just finished reading Al Abrams' wonderful Hype & Sou! I’ve read and re-read every word and treasured every visual. The book is beautifully presented and is absolutely crammed with information about Motown, and if anyone knows about the company, this guy does. You don’t need me to tell you about Al because I’ve been banging on about him for some time now, but a little refresher here. He was Berry Gordy’s first employee in 1959. Al, then 18 years old, knew little about the business but, hell, did he learn his trade quickly. Hustling and promoting Motown’s music and artists, he soon earned the title Director of Publicity, and later “the fourth Supreme” thanks to his close working relationship with the trio. Grabbing headlines was the name of the game, securing sales was the aim – and Al was instrumental in it all. This book is a real treat for Motown fans and beyond. His very heart and soul pour out from the 288 pages, alongside memorabilia to dream about. (Thank goodness he was a hoarder!) There’s exclusive items, alongside newspaper clippings, press releases, letters and all manner of Motown slanted visuals. Can’t recommend this enough, I really can’t. And, personally speaking, it’s a great honour not only to be mentioned in this book, but also to call Mr Abrams a friend. Published by Templestreet Publishing.


Next out. I’ve been in touch with Marilyn McLeod, she’s helping me out with a future project of mine. Marilyn’s recently released a cd titled I Believe In Me on Twinn Records which she owns with Janie Bradford. You know these ladies of course, both are established, mega-selling songwriters and producers who are associated with some of the biggest names at Motown. Anyhows, I Believe In Me is a 9 tracker and includes a tribute to Mr Gaye – What Would Marvin Say, plus tracks like Stand Up and It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Day. Andâ€Â¦.. Marilyn also co-wrote the current Patti Brooks’ single It’s All About The Music. Joyce Vincent and Scherrie Payne share support vocals. Check out You Tube More about this and Ms McLeod in the future. And now it’s time for ..

Little Trackingsâ€Â¦..

Released to coincide with The Temptations’ 50th anniversary is Soundtree’s remix of the group’s Power following intense online interest. This version Power (Soundtree remix) featuring a previously unreleased spoken word segment and final verse, is available digitally and is included on the digital version of the The Temptations: 50th Anniversary – The Complete Singles 1961 – 1971â€Â¦Ă˘€Â¦Tito and Rebbie Jackson and Deniece Williams will pay tribute to Michael J with a live UK tour kicking off in March 2012 under the banner A Jackson Named Michael: Remembering A Legend. “I’m really looking forward to this tour and being close up with fans” Tito said. “â€Â¦We have so many funny and wonderful stories about Michael that will leave the crowd laughing, crying and spellbound at the same time.” â€Â¦..Farewell to Vesta Williams of Once Bitten, Twice Shy fame (and so much more of course). Have fond memories, not only of her immense talent, but of her struggling to eat a baked potato in a posh London restaurant while talking to me. Yep, it went everywhere. Thankfully we had wine to wash it down with!.......Blinky Williams’ proposed cd still in the pipeline but, alas, no release date as yet. She’ll let me knowâ€Â¦.Some Mary Wells’ material due next yearâ€Â¦Ă˘€Â¦Do check out Leee John’s new single Betcha By Golly Wow – a re-working of The Stylistics’ classic. Fabulous Mr J and dedicated to loved-up folks everywhere and stick insects naturallyâ€Â¦Ă˘€Â¦Diana Ross:The Greatest cd released next month USA-wise: more of the same I hear you sayâ€Â¦Ă˘€Â¦..The Four Tops and The Temptations are touring here next year, kicking off in March. Joining them are The Crystals and Tavares. Go to for more informationâ€Â¦Ă˘€Â¦..Am really peed off that the dvd releases I’ve been advertising aren’t on UK release, nor, I’m told are the 50th anniversary releases from The Temptations, and Diana Ross & the Supremes. That’s so unfair. Am skweeming and skweemingâ€Â¦.. Til next time

Keep the faith,

Sharon Davis x

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

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

Join the B&S Mailing List

Blues and Soul on Twitter