Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1099

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Sharon Davis Motown Tracking Thirteen

Sisters Love
Sisters Love The Lost Supreme: The Life Of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard Mary Wells: In And Out Of Love The Temptations Rick James: Garden Of Love Rick James: Fire It Up Michael Jackson: The Man Behind The Mask Fighting Temptation: The Damon Harris Story The Temptations: Still Here Diana Ross Diana Ross: Blue Eddie Willis (Funk Brother) The Motown Event: Mission Estate (Feb 2010) Graham Betts The Original Vandellas Annette Helton (Original Vandella) Lesley Duncan (one-time backing singer for Dusty Springfield) RIP The Satintonesテ「 Sing: The Complete Tamla And Motown Singles Nostalgia (Film)

The sun is shining through my office window on this Easter holiday and the feeling is really good. Great to be alive! So with a smile in my heart, letテ「冱 TCB with MT Thirteen, unlucky for some, but not for us..


After a few weeks of speculation, I can confirm that, after speaking to the man at Reel Music Inc, a Sisters Love album will be issued in August. Itテ「冱 the album scheduled on Motownテ「冱 Mowest label in 1972 under the reference MW109 after Chameleon by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The Sistersテ「 debut was, of course, Mr Fix-It Man - and they supported the Jackson 5 on their first British tour, when they created such a stir on stage that Motown/EMI organized a reception in their honour so that they could perform for the media who were unable to attend the concerts. They were fantastic! Unfortunately, their stay with Mowest was short, but if I had to choose my favourite outing itテ「囘 be without a doubt テ「 Learning To Trust My Man issued over here in September 1973. With the pair of songs mentioned, the other tracks are テ「 Communication, Youテ「况e Got My Mind, Fast Mac, Sweet Inspiration, Just A Little Misunderstanding, Do What You Gotta Do, Youテ「况e Got To Make The Choice, Turn On Your Lovelight, Giving Up, Give Me Your Love, My Love Is Yours (テ「狼ill The End Of Time), I Ainテ「冲 That Easy To Lose, and (I Could Never Make) A Better Man Than You. I have to say, if these are the tracks I heard back in the day, this cd is an extremely strong and valid release.


Peter Benjaminson, the guy who wrote The Lost Supreme: The Life Of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard published in 2008 by Lawrence Hill, is researching a book about Mary Wells, Motownテ「冱 very first lady of song. Heテ「囘 very much like to hear from anyone who has insights or experience with the late superstar. Visit TheLostSupreme.Com if you can help. This reminds me, the last time I saw Mary was in a dreadful, rather grotty, Watford venue which served bottles of rubbish red wine.. She was extremely depressed and very unhappy テ「 テ「廬テ「况e been so upset over everywhere Iテ「冦 going..not getting equal billing and everything being different when I got hereテ「 she told me. Touring the country with Martha Reeves, among others, Mary brought her husband Curtis Womack, and daughter Sugar with her for her personal sanity, while her musical director Will Porter kept her music and musicians together. This was 1990 and Mary died two years later. Wish Iテ「囘 spent more time with her now. Still have the interview on tape somewhere thankfully. Anyhows, thereテ「冱 a new (re-issue) Mary Wellsテ「 album out. Titled In And Out Of Love it was her tenth studio album, first issued on the Epic label in October 1981. Working with producers Greg Perry and Fonce and Larry Mizell, In And Out Of Love was a bit of a departure for her as she took the funk trail, although, one track These Arms was a reminder of back in the day. Another track Gigolo was issued as a single テ「 a dance floor hit and US R&B top seventy entrant. Although the album was recorded in 1979, it took two years to release. Other titles include Share My Love, You Make Me Feel So Good Inside, Iテ「冦 Changing My Ways, and Indian Giver. A full review another time...


From Miss Wells to The Temptations. With the current line-up of Ron Tyson, Terry Weeks, Joe Herndon, Bruce Williamson and the only original member, Otis Williams, a new cd is scheduled for 4 May. Titled Still Here, itテ「冱 their 49th and their first since 2007テ「冱 Back To Front. With an infusion of that wonderful five-part harmony, the cd covers several musical styles. For example, with Bruce Williamson taking lead, Change Has Come is a lively tribute to the USテ「冱 first black president Barak Obama, while Listen Up is an updated Ball Of Confusion. Terry Weeksテ「 lead on Hold Me, and Ron Tysonテ「冱 Woman are ballads of note. However, the song thatテ「冱 grabbed my immediate attention is the update of 1965テ「冱 My Girl called Shawtyismygirlooyeah. Oh, and The Temptations will be celebrating their 50th anniversary next year too.

Before I close this little temptinテ「 section, (ok, I hear you cringing) I chanced to come across Fighting Temptation: The Damon Harris Story by Stacy Brown. Itテ「冱 an Amazon Short and can be downloaded for less than one dollar. I didnテ「冲. テ「 only because the one review I read indicated it was "pathetic". If youテ「决e interested though pop by Just had a thought, maybe this written taster means Damon is planning an autobiography. Now thatテ「冱 something I would very much be interested in.


When I was more or less out of action during December and January last, I read a lot, and one of the books was Michael Jackson: The Man Behind The Mask. And mentioning Stacy Brown just now reminded me of this because she wrote it with Bob Jones who, as you know, was the late singerテ「冱 publicist. Bob, who died two years ago, was a loyal and experienced publicist, and who was at Michaelテ「冱 side throughout the scandals - like his plastic surgery, his marriages, his sleeping in an anti-aging hyperbaric chamber. He was also responsible for releasing ludicrous stories like Michaelテ「冱 intention to purchase The Elephant Manテ「冱 bones. During 2005 when he was on trial for child molestation charges, he fired Bob without notice or severance. The book followed. Itテ「冱 an extremely interesting read; not a nice read, granted, and probably a bit one sided because of the circumstances Bob found himself in, but I believe thereテ「冱 an element of truth in what is written. I found myself thinking テ「 テ「徙h, thatテ「冱 how that happenedテ「 and テ「廬テ「冦 not surprised, it all fits in nowテ「. So, if nothing else, it answered my nagging questions. More recent MJ news now. Itテ「冱 been reported that Sony Corp has reached a deal with his estate that could be worth $250 million. The Hollywood Reporter noted that the deal, coming months after his death, is one of the most lucrative recording contracts ever signed. Apparently, it guarantees Michaelテ「冱 estate at least $200 million, involving ten albums over seven years. The deal covers all released and unreleased material, and the soundtrack to This Is It. An album of unreleased items is due later this year. Mmmm. Letテ「冱 move on.


Talking of The Temptations just now - hereテ「冱 Rick James. A good link methinksテ「 remember Standing On The Top in 1982? Following on from the recent release of Street Games, hereテ「冱 a couple more, both released this month テ「 Fire It Up and Garden Of Love, his third and fourth albums for Motown. Theyテ「决e digitally remastered and available on cd for the first time. Fire It Up includes the singles Love Gun and Come Into My Life, and a promo-only 12テ「 mix of Love Gun, whereas Garden Of Love features an extended version of Big Time mixed by M+M and a demo version of Gypsy Girl. Donテ「冲 know if either of these will have British releases, Iテ「冦 afraid. Am inclined to think not.


Remember I mentioned The Motown Event, a series of concerts in Australia a few weeks ago? Participating artists included Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, The Temptations, the Four Tops, The Miracles, Joan Osborne, Mary Wilson, among others. Iテ「况e read varying reviews: some loved it, others hated it. But what canテ「冲 be ignored is the fact that the shows in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne were among the top thirty-five highest grossing concerts for the period reported, with ticket sales over $2 million! So, who slated it? Well, Bruce Elder in The Sydney Morning Herald, for one. His review started with テ「 テ「廬t was touted as テ「狼he Motown Eventテ「, but after three hours, with the gore of butchered hits strewn around the stage, it should more aptly have been called テ「狼he Motown Massacreテ「". Never mind. Sarah Catherall in The Dominion Post, loved it. She started with テ「 テ「廡rom the moment Mary Wilson appeared glowing in a satin red frock, and booming out the iconic hit テ「廊ove Childテ「"テ「ツヲ.concert goers knew they were in for a treatテ「ツヲ.It was the same with the other artists who joined together to celebrate fifty years of the Motown music labelテ「ツヲThe concert moved with a pace as quick as the toes of The Temptations テ「 who gave us a treat with their smooth-stepping, synchronized dancing and performanceテ「ツヲThe concert ended when all twenty artists came on stage テ「ツヲ.to pay tribute to another original Motown artist, Michael Jackson, joining together to sing Iテ「冤l Be There. Thatテ「冱 better! I wished the artists who participated in The Legends Of Motown tour over here, had returned to the stage at the close of the show. Wouldテ「况e been such a wonderful way to end the evening. Instead, those whoテ「囘 appeared during the first half of the evening, were already on the bus on their way back to their hotel. Doubtless for a well earned nightcap, or a cup of Horlicks before retiring.


Letテ「冱 talk musicians and stars. Janie Bradford wrote on her Facebook that sheテ「囘 spoken to Eddie Willis of the Funk Brothers, and theyテ「况e been slotted in to receive a Star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame this year テ「 テ「彙ut (theyテ「决e) having trouble raising the $25,000 cost for the Star. If anyone has any ideas how to help them raise the money, just hit me up and I will put you in contact with Mr Willis or Bob Babbittテ「 An official press release will, Iテ「冦 told, be forthcoming late-April whichテ「冤l give details of how to contribute, where and when (should you feel so inclined). Watch this space.


The Supremes! And news that the Expanded Edition of Meet The Supremes is now out. Covering 2-cds, itテ「冱 a remastered version of the girlsテ「 debut album, first issued back in the day of 1962. Thereテ「冱 previously unreleased items like テ「 a live show recorded at the Apollo in テ「62, representing their earliest known live recording; a 1964 live show titled Battle Of The Stars recorded at Detroitテ「冱 Graystone Ballroom, only six months before their first chart-topper Where Did Our Love Go, plus sixteen additional studio tracks, all in previously unreleased mixes, some in stereo for the first time. George Solomon penned the twenty-page booklet which includes the first-ever interview with Barbara Martin, the fourth Supreme. A must for fans. But, as exciting as this is, my current love of the moment is Diana Rossテ「 Touch Me In The Morning テ「 Expanded Edition. Itテ「冱 no secret that the original album was always my favourite Ross album, and that hasnテ「冲 changed. In fact, this current release has simply confirmed why I felt so passionately about it back in the day. The story goes that as Berry Gordy wasnテ「冲 sure what the public reaction would be to Dianaテ「冱 portrayal of Billie Holiday in Lady Sings The Blues, he needed to ensure she had a hit waiting in the wings (eh?!) should her career need to be kick-started. And for this he turned to Michael Masser and Ron Miller. Michael said he had no idea what the title Touch Me In The Morning meant, so he analyzed Diana as a person; the adult, film star, loner, with opinions about sexual values. テ「愿「ツヲ(Diana) is out on her own nowテ「ツヲthough sheテ「冱 ostensibly a sophisticated woman, sheテ「冱 still crying inside to be touched in the morning.テ「 She recorded the song at least twelve times, and when it was finally released, it topped the American chart in August 1973 and peaked at number nine over here, while the album hit the top ten. Dianaテ「冱 interpretation of the Touch Me In The Morning song is plaintive, yet quietly commanding, as she eases her voice along the subdued orchestra. Just perfect, like, for the most part, the whole of the original, commercially-slanted album. While recording this, Diana was also working on two other projects テ「 Blue, a further step into the jazz-inflected songs sheテ「囘 recorded for Lady Sings The Blue, and To The Baby, a collection of tracks to celebrate the birth of her daughter Rhonda. And, for those of you who love coincidences, this Expanded Edition was released just months following the birth of Rhondaテ「冱 first child. Listening again to those mid-tempo, blue-eyed soul songs so loved during the seventies, I fell in love all over again with All Of My Life, We Need You, Leave A Little Room, I Wonテ「冲 Last A Day Without You and Imagine. So, here weテ「况e got previously unreleased mixes, two alternate versions of Touch Me In The Morning, the To The Baby album in its entirety, plus a pair of unique tracks テ「 Kewpie Doll penned by Smokey Robinson and taken, so the story goes, from an album they were working on titled Satisfaction, and When We Grow Up from Marlo Thomasテ「 1972 album Free To Beテ「ツヲ.You And Me. The booklet which accompanies this release is penned by Andrew Skurow, with an essay from Deke Richards, the ringleader of The Corporation, and who mixed and remastered the original Touch Meテ「ツヲテ「 album. OK, thatテ「冱 all Iテ「冦 gonna say because you must be sick and tired of me banging on about this cd.

Now itテ「冱 time for -

What Motownテ「冱 50th Anniversary Means To Me...

And Iテ「冦 delighted to introduce my old pal, Graham Betts, and a lady I havenテ「冲 seen for a while, one of the original Vandellas, Annette Helton.

テ「廡ifty years of Motown has meant forty years of magical memories for me.テつ Meeting Stevie Wonder (not once but twice!), interviewing the likes of The Temptations, Hal Davis and Diana Ross, working with Marvin Gaye, Edwin Starr and Gladys Knight and just hanging out with the Commodores for the best part of a week would be undoubted personal highlights, moments never to be repeated or forgotten.テつ Yet more than anything else, there is the music.テつ Even now, if I were to put together a Top 100 of my favourite tunes, Motown would fill more than 50% of the available places. Songs for every emotion and occasion; there is literally something for everyone in the Motown catalogue.テつ To sum it all up?テつ Motown テ「 Yesterday, Today, Forever .Graham Betts - Author of Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004, Complete British Hit Albums among other titles.

.."Motown music and its artists is an integral component of America's culture and I am blessed to have been a part of it since its conception.テつ As one of the original Vandellas, I saw first hand how a young man's dream became a reality and not only impacted our country, but the entire world as a whole.テつ Berry Gordy and his talented musicians, artists and staff, created a sound that changed the world in a positive manner, eroded racial barriers and promoted unity of all walks of life.テつ Motown is worth celebrating, and the 50th Anniversary festivities bring back many memories of wonderful times in my youth during a turbulent era.

The Vandellas came to Motown in the beginning.テつ Martha, Rosalind and I had the honor of taking part in the early formative years of the company.テつ We backed many artists before we had our own hits.テつ We especially loved backing the handsome and talented Marvin Gaye and filling in background vocals on many of the other artistsテ「 tracks as well.テつ After we recorded Come and Get Theses Memories and our hits started to flow, it almost seemed surreal how quickly our lives changed.テつ I established so many wonderful and lasting friendships throughout my career, so celebrating Motown's 50th is a celebration of my career, life and accomplishments as well.

As I take part in the anniversary activities here in Detroit and other areas around the country, I have the opportunity to meet up with musicians, writers, artists, Motown staff members and friends and fans that I haven't seen in years.テつ This has been awesome, and it reinforces what a fantastic life I've had as a member of the Motown family.テつ As we celebrate Motown, I celebrate love, friendships, fond memories, and my special place in this vast world.テつ God has brought some of the most important people into my life throughテつ Motown and its sensational music.テつ For that I will be forever grateful, and enjoy, not only celebrating Motown's 50th, but every milestone anniversary Motown celebrates in the future.テ「テつ Annette Helton, Original Vandella.

And lastly...


Last but certainly not least. A few MT notes. Very sad to report the death of singer/songwriter Lesley Duncan who started her career as a much sought after backing singer, before branching out on her own with groundbreaking albums like her first Sing Children Sing. Lesley was 66 years old and died from complications after a brave fight against Alzheimerテ「冱. Lesley was a one-time backing singer for Dusty Springfield, who was herself listed as one of 100 British women who have changed the world for ever and for the better, in a recent edition of The Independent On Sunday. Way to go Dust! テ「ツヲテ「ツヲ Heテ「冱 a brave man is R&B singer Craig David whoテ「冱 recently released Motown cover versions. What a great choice in music young man, butテ「ツヲテ「ツヲ.! Check out our website for an exclusive interview with the man himselfテ「ツヲテ「ツヲCheck out too, the first part of Cal Streetテ「冱 interview with me. The Velvelette talks about her childhood and life before Motownテ「ツヲ...All best wishes to Universal/ Motownテ「冱 Silvia Montello who is part of the Universal team working with ActionAid. The volunteers are helping to build a community centre in Khubvi village in the Limpopo Province in South Africa. If you wish to donate to this cause or just want to know more, do pop by Released on 26 April - The Satintonesテ「 Sing: The Complete Tamla And Motown Singles cd on Ace Records (think thatテ「冱 the right title)テ「ツヲ.and ex-Supreme, Susaye Greene has painted the promotional poster to advertise James Bartlingテ「冱 indie-to-the-max film Nostalgia. Says she テ「 テ「廬tテ「冱 Jamesテ「 personal story, has taken him eight years to make, and so many aspects of it are part of a unique creative process.テ「 See News Item for more details.

And that, I fear, is definitely it! So テ「til next time - keep the faith

Love you
Sharon Davis xx


Please feel free to contact Sharon at the new email address of with any Motown news that you feel would benefit others - Thank you.

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