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4.6 out of 5 stars27
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on 25 April 2012
I first got 'into' Motown in 1966 and have collected a large range of 45s/LPs on both English and American labels mostly from the years 1963 through to the early 1980s, and just recently I have been collecting releases of previously unissued material (albeit on CD)as they have become available in the Motown Connoisseurs/Cellarful of Motown series. So when this compilation was released I was intrigued by the fact that the tracks all related to the earlier years 1959-1961 (an era of which I had no experience musically). The first thing that struck me when listening was the raw naivety of many of the tracks, although the hint of the later 'Motown' sound definitely comes across on many of the tracks. It has to be said that the production on several numbers is lacking in the later polish which so marked the genre, but even so the tracks are still fascinating in their own right. Tracks by Mary Wells show a raw edge to the vocals which really suits her style while those by Marvin Gaye show a wide versatility to his singing which I had never experienced from his later material. Smokey Robinson is immediately recognisable on his contributions although the same cannot be said of Diana Ross & The Supremes and I had to refer to the sleeve notes to identify them as the vocalists. Some of the artistes I had not encountered before although contributions from Mable John were extremely enjoyable although I found some of those from the Satintones rather less so although their song 'Tomorrow and Always' is instantly recognisable as an early version of 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow'. The Temptations also make several contributions and are easily recognisable by the gorgeous deep bass lines. One very annoying thing about these CDs is the complete lack of ID3 tags so I had to manually enter the titles, artist, composers etc before I could port them onto my MP3 player.
Overall these CDs may not have immediate appeal to fans of the Motown Sound but they do fill a large gap in the current repertoire for ardent listeners.
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on 12 August 2014
Yes, but missing "Move Two Mountains" by Marv Johnson for some very classy early Motown. Why didn't they include it? Is it because they considered it released on United Artists?

You get the typical Marvelettes, Smokey and others, but for deep hard-to-find records, you may enjoy this one as I did. Forgotten 45s yessiry!!! I enjoyed "The Stretch" by the Contours, which should have been a bigger hit in its day and talk about "Same Thing" by Gino Parks (James Brown, here I am).

If you're looking for the cream of the crop in Motown, this is NOT the set for you, but for collectors looking for material deep in the vaults, this one's just for you.
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on 29 November 2012
Just to note, due to the law on copyright in the UK and EU, many UK based companies any music that has been released over 50 years is in the public domain. Thus, EU based companies churn out cheap as chips cds, without paying any royalties to artists or license holders. Sometimes the music is taken straight from vinyl, other times from cd releases. Hence why this cd conveniently ends in 1961.

The fact is, Hip-O Select and Motown UK have already done a great job in re-releasing and remastering Motown tracks. Buy this if you want a taster, but please be aware that no one who has any thing to do with Motown has had anything to do with the set. These will not be the best quality versions, and the people who contributed to this music won't see a penny of the profits.

As for music, its a bit misleading to call this the sound of Motown. As someone who has all of the Complete Motown single box sets, and pretty much every UK and US cd release over the past 15 years, I wouldn't call much of the music from 1959-1961 as being representative of the Motown sound. Smokey and the Marvelettes always stood out from this period, with some of the stronger tracks. But artists like Marvin, The Temptations and the Supremes are still in the early stages of their careers. So this is a nice taster for early Motown, but you won't see most of the more recognisable Motown tracks here. Ones that the average person would probably have already heard are Please Mr Postman, Money and Who's Loving You (as covered by the Jackson 5).

Seriously, if I was a potential buyer I would avoid this and instead spend the money instead on any Hip-O select release. Listen to, it, discover some great music and really fall in love with the depth and untouchable brilliance of the Motown vaults. Then see how in a year or two that cd is worth over a £100, and pat yourself on the back for buying a great official cd that was also an investment as a real piece of Motown memorabilia.
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Detroit made the cars. And Detroit made the music. Or that's how the theory went for quite a few people. The master magician Berry Gordy perfected a number of formulae, and, with the help of talented assistants, some going by names like Holland, Dozier and Whitfield, applied those formulae to malleable artists, added a tweak here and there, and out came a product line hit which, of course, we gobbled up. It's an attractive theory with some element of truth in it but it conveniently ignores the facts that the so-called "malleable artists" were talented performers in their own right; indeed some were immensely talented artists.

This set, which would appear to go up to the end of 1961 or thereabouts - unusually One Day don't give us the timeframe - captures many of the key artists before the big hits. Or continuing the formula theory, prior to those magic formulae having been found, created or whatever. In one way it makes it more interesting, in that a lot of the subsequent polish and, in some cases, the straitjacket styling, just isn't there. But there's the polar opposite view that it was the styling that made those records so attractive and caused so many of us to buy them.

Personally I confess that I'm of the view that it's extremely interesting to hear these tracks with some of the rawness still there and an overall sound that is not unlike the R&B coming out from other labels of the period, usually the indie ones. Certainly the "Motown Sound" had not yet kicked in which I'm aware will be disappointing for some.

The clearest example of this is with Diana Ross and the Supremes. "Where did our love go" in Summer '64 struck us as, well, different, quite unlike any girl group we'd ever heard. If this indeed was a formula then it was one which had been meticulously created to achieve maximum impact, and, yes, it was a brilliant single. It was some way away from our definitions of soul, R&B or, indeed, pop. In contrast the tracks here are perfectly good girl group pop but in a blindfold test I doubt whether many would identify them as being from the Supremes.

The same can't quite be said about Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. That magnificent and recognisable high tenor soars and swoops though the tracks here are mainly medium tempo in line with the great "Shop Around" which is included. The later standout Miracles tracks were more typically ballads.

It's dance floor friendly, medium to fast tempo tracks which largely dominate the set although there are honourable exceptions. Among the latter are both sides of Marvin Gaye's "Let your conscience be your guide / Never let you go" single from mid '61. Both are more like deep soul than anything else by Gaye. He's one of the Motown roster who seemed less subject to formulaic pressure than others. His singles went through a variety of styles as he appeared to explore deeper into his musical psyche.

The Temptations get a couple of tracks and they're superb. Another really great vocal group who didn't know how to make bad records. The Velvelettes, one of those groups who were so liked by the Beatles, were, for me, one of those girl groups who pretty well defined the genre. Their style didn't change that much - upbeat, bubbly and infectious are all relevant adjectives. The Satintones, a forgotten name now, were the first group to sign for Motown but they disbanded in 1961, hence the memory failure. Their tracks here are largely in a doo woppy vein which is something you can't say about much of the material in this album although there are plenty of borrowed touches.

What you can say is that Motown, on the evidence of this set largely consisted of vocal groups. In later days this was still true and even with solo artists there was often a coming together in the form of duets - something that was far less prevalent elsewhere. In this set both the very young Mary Wells tracks and most of those near or totally unknown ones by apparently single artists actually sound like groups, so integrated is the work from the backing vocal teams.

One lady does deserve a special mention. Mable John (note Mable not Mabel) only made a few records for Motown before Gordy let her go. Both the two included here are atypical for the label. "Take me" in particular sounds like an undiscovered Southern Soul gem. Which I guess is just what those clever people at One Day wanted me to say!

Back to the formula theory. It's one that's also believed to apply to the series of singles that Gordy made with Marv Johnson in the pre-Motown days. And if you listen closely there are some of the touches, like the bubbly bassman, from the Johnson records on tracks included in here, particularly those from the more obscure artists. But they're not overwhelming and only very rarely is the material so poppy that you want to skip the track and move on to the next.

There are rougher R&B style tracks present including some instros but let's not forget that, even in later days, Motown would just occasionally let the otherwise anonymous (and splendid) support guys out for a rooting tooting outing. Unlike Stax of course where Booker T and the MG's were established stars.

All in all, an absolutely fascinating overview of a record label (with fabulous group of artists) trying to find its feet. There's a considerably higher portion of known names in here than in other releases in One Day's Legendary Label Series but most of the actual tracks are so early in said artists' careers that they will be unknown to all bar the most fanatical collectors.
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on 3 May 2012
I am a massive Motown fan and would be the first to admit that I do own the majority of what's on the market (perhaps too much!) -but I was itnrigued when I saw this. These really are 'gems' from the vaults and some really great tracks which I am very pleased are now seeing the light of day.

The CD is well packaged and all the songs sound great and all for next to nothing price wise. Very pleased.
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on 30 September 2013
There was not a cat in Hells chance of most of these tracks being issued in the U K but nowadays its possible to obtain every song issued on the T M G labels.
But whoever thinks this isn't an official release is wrong as it has a barcode
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on 16 September 2012
For £5.25 i call this a bargain, worth the price for anyone who love Tamla Motown,a couple of tracks ive not come across before but will not break the bank for this price.
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on 30 June 2014
A collection of early Motown here mostly dating 1961. You need to know that if you are buying..About three tracks recorded 1958.
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on 19 October 2014 a nutshell for it's year - its paints a picture of late 1950s - to around a time..just before That

unique Motown Sound of Hitsville USA; ever came into existance that we all know. Interesting though...after all... it's covers

the history of the birth of Tamla. Yes...I'm glad I bought it...ever though somewhat dated.
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on 9 January 2014
Bought this not realising nearly all the tracks are from 1961 and mostly do-wop only paid £3.50 for it so no big deal.Its a double cd if this is your taste in motown very good value but not for me will play a couple of times and shove it away somewhere to be forgotten.
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