The Motortown Revue Collection

The Motortown Revue Collection


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It's taken a long time for the live portion of the early Motown library to finally get the treatment it deserves on compact disc -- what little of it has shown up was done very early in the CD era, when a lot of the work in finding and choosing source tapes and engineering them properly left a lot to be desired; and the early live albums by the likes of the Miracles and Marvin Gaye have never shown up legitimately, leading one to believe that there are problems finding proper master tapes on them. The four Motortown Revue albums assembled here -- of which the first three, dating between 1963 and 1965, certainly qualify as being representative of the label's classic era -- show what can be done with this repertory when the sources do exist. There are rough moments, to be sure, as it wasn't easy to record a live R&B show in those days, but the excitement of the performers and the audience overcome most of those technical flaws. The Contours bound right over the technical limitations like acrobats vaulting a not-too-high obstacle, and from there we get the Supremes with Florence Ballard center stage on the lead -- which by itself is worth the price of admission -- followed by Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder doing incredible things vocally, and the Marvelettes followed by Mary Wells (rousing the audience with the beautiful, stirring "Bye Bye Baby"). The Miracles close out the show with killer renditions of "You Really Got a Hold on Me" (including their segue into one verse and chorus of Sam Cooke's "Bring It on Home to Me") and "Way Over There," a single that they and Berry Gordy loved so much that they recorded it at least twice, and which here gets a high-octane reading that emphasizes the call-and-response component of the song, an element that was lost on the various studio renditions, amid their instrumental splendor. The work done on the sound for this reissue makes it worth hearing all over again anew, no matter how long one has known this record: the sound may have been on the raw, primitive side, but the engineers have done their best to bring out the nuances of the playing and singing, and retained the visceral energy of the performances, so much so that one easily draws a clear image of what these performances must have looked like as well. The other three volumes -- representing much of the rest of the major history of Motown across the '60s -- feature, in addition to more performances by the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, the Marvelettes, and Stevie Wonder, the work of Martha & the Vandellas, Kim Weston, the Temptations, Earl Van Dyke, the Originals, Blinky, Bobby Taylor, and Gladys Knight & the Pips, all mostly at the top of their respective games -- were recorded under far less challenging technical circumstances, and they fare even better in this setting. Indeed, the last volume, Motortown Revue Live from 1969 -- ironically, the only part of this set to ever have seen an official CD release, for all of about five minutes some 15 years earlier -- is among the finest sounding live soul documents that one is ever likely to hear. The packaging here may seem a little awkward to some onlookers -- the tendency since the late '90s has been to make multi-CD sets like this smaller and more compact, but in this case the producers have put the four volumes into mini-LP-style sleeves (without inner sleeves to protect the CDs, a continuing oversight), and put them inside of an oversized, coffee-table-book-sized package that also includes a booklet that re-creates elements of the original program books for each of the events captured here, and a reproduction of an original tour poster. It's not as cumbersome as it might sound from this description -- in fact, apart from the absence of inner sleeves (come on -- if the Japanese can do it, why can't we?), it's surprisingly handy -- and the three-hours-plus of music is well worth the asking price.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/13/2006
Label: Hip-O Select
UPC: 0602498643112
catalogNumber: 000362302
Rank: 124857

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Clarence Paul   Accompaniment

Technical Credits

Leonard Bernstein   Composer
Willie Nelson   Composer
Henry Mancini   Composer
Pete Seeger   Composer
Ray Charles   Composer
Marvin Gaye   Composer
Curtis Mayfield   Composer
Otis Redding   Composer
Smokey Robinson   Composer
Mary Wells   Composer
Barrett Strong   Composer
Nick Ashford   Composer
Tom Baird   Composer
Homer Banks   Composer
Tommy Chong   Composer
Cleveland   Composer
Henry Cosby   Composer
Don Davis   Composer
Lamont Dozier   Composer
Berry Gordy   Composer,Producer
George Gordy   Composer
Lee Hays   Composer
Eddie Holland   Composer
Brian Holland   Composer
Ivy Jo Hunter   Composer
Terry Johnson   Composer
Herbert Magidson   Composer
Johnny Mercer   Composer
Ronald Dean Miller   Liner Notes
Anthony Newley   Composer
Clarence Paul   Composer
Valerie Simpson   Composer
William "Mickey" Stevenson   Composer,Producer
Sylvester "Sly Stone" Stewart   Composer
Norman Whitfield   Composer
Stevie Wonder   Composer
Allie Wrubel   Composer
Ron Miller   Composer
Vartan   Art Direction
Georgia Dobbins   Composer
Billy Gordon   Composer
Raymond Jackson   Composer
Barney Ales   Composer
Bettye Crutcher   Composer
William Garrett   Composer
Orlando Murden   Composer
Robert Bateman   Composer
Sylvia May   Composer
Henry Crosby   Composer
Bernard Yeszin   Cover Design
Pat Lawrence   Executive Producer
Ryan Null   Photo Coordination
Michele Horie   Art Direction
Andrew Skurow   Tape Vault Research
Lily Salinas   Vault Research
Jenny Shapiro   Licensing
Freddie Gorman   Composer
Billy Hoggs   Composer
Leslie Briscusse   Composer
John Van Allen   Composer
Scott St. James   Liner Notes
Wallace Mead   Cover Design

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