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Customer Review

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MOTOWN'S BURIED TREASURE, 25 Mar. 2013
This review is from: Caston & Majors (Expanded Edition) (Audio CD)
The Caston & Majors album is my favourite album of all time. Motown had not released anything like it before and nothing like it since.

Leonard Caston is one of the unsung talents at Motown, where he relocated after being the director of the studio band at Chess Records (and one time member of soul group the Radiants). His flair for unusual rhythms and piano driven compositions shaped some of Motown's most memorable releases of the seventies, including The Supremes' Nathan Jones and a string of hit singles and albums for former Temptation Eddie Kendricks.

With the Caston & Majors album, Leonard , together with former gospel singer Carolyn Majors had a plan, as he described in interviews back in 1975. The album was to be a gospel-rock thing, leading to a staged production. "We're really searching for a spiritual concept and we chose music as the media because it was something we both loved and because it is the best way of communicating with a lot of people at one time," Leonard said.

Despite all the plans for the development of the project, Motown changed tack and chose not to release any singles in the US. The follow-up album was canned, and the project was not promoted. In the UK, three singles were released, the radio favourite (and almost-hit) Child Of Love, the jaunty Sing, and the albums' masterpiece, I'll Keep My Light In My Window. This latter inspirational song became something of a standard, with versions by the Mighty Clouds Of Joy, Shirley Caesar, Eruption, the New York Community Choir , Maria Muldaur, and, more recently Quantic with Alice Russell.

Motown stripped Caston & Majors vocals from I'll Keep My Light In My Window and replaced them with a duet by Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye. At the same time, they took one of the songs from the unreleased follow-up and added Smokey Robinson's vocal to it.

This CD release shows off the beauty and brilliance of a lost masterpiece. These songs have stirred my soul for 28 years and I play this album when I am down. When it was first mooted as a project for CD release, I could hardly believe it and when I heard that the unreleased second album had been found in Motown's tape vaults, it was a huge surprise.

It's a delight to find that the second album is complete, fully orchestrated, beautifully arranged, with Caston's trademark odd rhythm, and plenty of up-beat uplifting songs. The songs change direction in interesting ways - it's never predictable - and I am delighted to find that it is a perfect extension of the original album, with musical themes re-appearing here and there. There are several tracks which should have been singles and could well have been hits.

It's a little bit rock-opera, a little bit gospel, and a lot of soul. Quite simply, it's the best Motown album ever and this is the CD release of the year. I hope that Big Break Records are rewarded with substantial sales for taking the risk of putting out such an unknown, yet high quality set.

Do yourself a favour and sample some of the songs on YouTube.

Essential listening.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Mar 2013 15:33:36 GMT
Fred Smith says:
Couldn't have said it better Eric;it's a great album to finally get on cd and your review is excellent.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Mar 2013 21:15:40 GMT
I'm listening to my CD copy as I write this and as a lifelong Motown fan, this is exciting me as much as the first time I heard several of their now 'classic' tracks.

Wonderful stuff. Thank you BBE!

Posted on 10 Apr 2013 16:47:04 BDT
Hi Eric, How "Motown" is their sound? Or since recorded in the 70's, for instance like The Supremes albums of that era? Would appreciate feedback before purchasing. I tend to be rather leery of most Motown after 1972.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Apr 2013 05:01:23 BDT
Hi Steven, The nearest Motown releases with the same sound would be those by Eddie Kendricks, especially his Slick album. You can find a few C&M tracks on YouTube and that's the best place to start finding out about their sound.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Apr 2013 20:23:07 BDT
Thank you Eric. I now have checked out the YouTube vids and have made up my mind. Unfortunately not "Motown enough" for me.
BTW how is the Eddie Holland one? If there's a lot of "jingly jangly" Motown before it became "real" Motown on there, I'd not be very interested either.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Apr 2013 07:32:44 BDT
Hmmm, well, if you didn't enjoy Finders Keepers, then my guess is that you won't enjoy the Eddie Holland set. I love it but there is plenty of proto-Motown Sound on it which may be too early for your taste.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Apr 2013 16:14:44 BDT
Thank you Eric, for your prompt response. One more I can then "safely" cross off my list.
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Location: Lodon England

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