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Motown chartbusters Volume 3 was the first compilation album that ever made number 1 on the UK album chart. This happened on St. Valentine's day in 1970. I know it gladdened hearts then, and it still has that power now! It stayed on the chart for two years. Looking at the track list, it is easy to see why.
As well as the best of 1968/9 Motown like Marvin Gaye's evergreen 'Heard It Thru The Grapevine', and two excellent hits from Stevie Wonder 'For Once In My Life' and 'My Cherie Amour', the album also contains many tracks from a subtle few years earlier, that had been re-released in the UK.
In the early/mid 60s, the Motown sound was a bit 'avant garde' for the BBC Light Programme (which was the only pop radio station that there was, unless you could pick up pirate stations), but by the late 60s, it was perfect for the new Radio 1.
Martha Reeves & The Vandellas 'Dancing In The Street' was the record that kicked off the re-release boom. Alan Freeman played it every night for months until they put it back out. The clarion call to dance and be happy was a much bigger hit than it had been in Britain in 1964.
The magnificant stomping 'Roadrunner' from Junior Walker & The All Stars, 'Get Ready' from The Temptations, 'The Tracks Of My Tears' a timeless classic from Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, 'Stop Her On Sight' from Edwin Starr, and the two Isley Brothers tracks 'This Old Heart Of Mine' and 'Behind A Painted Smile' all followed Martha's lead and became bigger British hits on re-release than originally.Read more ›
If you could only ever own one Motown LP, if you ever needed one album that was 100% guaranteed to bring life to a flagging party, if you wanted to distill the essence of Hitsville USA into about forty minutes, this is the CD you need to buy. From the rattlesnake shake of the tambourine during the menacing intro to "Heard It Thru The Grapevine" to the beautiful, heart melting guitar lick that is the signature of "Tracks of My Tears", this album has not a single dull moment. The album is superbly sequenced - it kicks of with the Marvin Gay close-dancing classic, build through a couple more slowies, and steadily picks up the pace to the midpoint "Dancing In The Streets". Then on to Stevie Wonder's much covered, but never bettered "For Once In My Life" before Marvin and Tammi sing "You're All I Need To Get By" (and if you have ever seen film of them singing together, you would believe every word of it). Then stormers all the way (taking in "Behind the Painted Smile" - certainly the best Isley Brothers hit, maybe one of the best Motown hits) until Smokey brings it all back to close dancing. And how wonderful to compare and contrast "...Painted Smile" and "...Tears", those two songs essentially the same story but told two completely different ways. You don't need to mortgage your house to get this album - but if you did, it would still be worth it.
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This is generally regarded as the strongest of the twelve volumes and it's not difficult to see why, although some of the other early volumes are also very strong. The oldest track here is Dancing in the street (Martha Reeves and the Vandellas), which was only a minor UK hit when first released in 1964 but a UK top five hit when re-issued in 1969. The set opens with I heard it through the grapevine (Marvin Gaye), one of Motown's biggest hits ever, which made number one in Britain and America when first released and returned to the UK top ten in 1986 following its re-issue after being used in a TV commercial. The Isley brothers are not generally remembered for their Motown recordings but they had two UK top five hits with the label. This old heart of mine, a minor UK hit in 1966, made the UK top three when re-issued in 1968. Rod Stewart covered the song and did almost as well with it in 1975. Behind a painted smile made the UK top five for the Isley brothers in 1969. Other classics include I'm gonna make you love me (Diana Ross and the Supremes and the Temptations), My Cherie amour, For once on my life (Stevie Wonder), Tracks of my tears (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles), I'll pick a rose for my rose (Marv Johnson) and Get ready (Temptations), all of which made the UK top ten, as well as I'm a road runner (Junior Walker) and You're all I need to get by (Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell), both of which made the UK top twenty. Apart from their collaboration with the Temptations, Diana Ross and the Supremes are represented by Love child and No matter what sign you are - both brilliant though they don't stick in the memory as much as some of their other songs. The same can be said for I'm in a different world (Four Tops) and Stop her on sight (Edwin Starr). I'm not sure if this is my favorite volume but it's definitely a contender. My favorites are the two Isley brothers tracks and Dancing in the street.
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