Here Comes...The Complete Motown Stereo Masters CD
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* Frederick "Shorty" Long has always had a special place in the affections of all serious Motown collectors, although he recorded less than three dozen tracks in total in his five years with the company. His singles on Motown's Soul label are cherished artefacts of the company's Golden Era and have been for decades now.
* Unfortunately Shorty died in a boating accident in 1969, just as he was beginning to move into the commercial mainstream. and shortly before his second album was due to be released. His catalogue has not been too well served in the CD era, but Kent aims to rectify that with the latest release in their ongoing series of Motown projects.
* "Here Comes...Shorty Long" presents all the masters that were mixed to stereo by Motown's engineers in the 60s, and includes the world premiere of a very different take of his great version of the Big Bopper's `Chantilly Lace', as well as many of his eternally popular hits such as `Function At the Junction', `Devil In The Blue Dress' and `Here Come The Judge'.
* With typically copious illustrations and an annotation that includes a personal memoir of Shorty by his frequent Motown collaborator Sylvia Moy, this is a package that every vintage Motown fan will want.
Top Customer Reviews
Shorty was one of the few Motown singers who was allowed to produce his own material. 14 of the 26 tracks on this CD were produced by him. In the decades since his demise, his production of recordings by The Elgins and Martha Reeves & The Vandellas have come to light. Shorty had a versatile, bluesy, soulful voice that could sound dead cheeky at times.
He released not one, not two immortal tracks which have been covered over the years; Devil With The Blue Dress and Function At the Junction but his main claim to fame was with the novelty track Here Comes The Judge. This superb party record includes The Spinners and allegedly Sammy Davis Jr., who delivers the spoken introduction.
Several of the tracks are cover versions of old hits. These are all excellent renditions and so good that some of them were released as singles. One of these singles, Chantilly Lace, never made it to an album but has been included as a bonus track here in a unique stereo mix never-before heard. Famous for his uptempo party records, Shorty could deliver deeply emotional songs, like his tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. the single I Had A Dream, which is also on this CD. Northern Soul fans will be wetting themselves over Baby Come Home To Me, an uptempo stomper recorded back in 1966.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Like the previous volume, this one does not include any sides from the three singles cut for Tri-Phi Records (see Comments below), owned by Harvey Fuqua of Harvey & The Moonglows fame and his wife Gwen Gordy, sister of Motown's Berry Gordy. But while that's understandable given the title of the album, they proceed to leave out too much of the Soul output, a label he joined in 1964 when Harvey and Gwen sold their entire operation to the Motown empire.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama on May 20, 1940, Shorty came by his nickname honestly as he stood barely over 5 feet, but when you heard his booming voice on record or radio it conjured up visions of a much larger individual. He was also skilled on a wide array of instruments, including the harmonica, guitar, trumpet/coronet, drums, and piano/organ.
His first release with his new label was the self-penned (along with William Stevenson) Devil With The Blue Dress On b/w Wind It Up (omitted here) on Soul 35001, but it could only reach # 125 on the Billboard Pop Hot 100 Bubble Under charts in the spring of 1964, a time when the British Invasion was keeping many North American artists off the charts. Conceived and delivered in a slow, bluesy manner, two years later Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels would give a rousing rendition of Devil With The Blues Dress On in a medley with Good Golly Miss Molly and see it rise to # 4 Hot 100.
It's a Crying Shame/Out To Get You on Soul 35005 a month or so later in 1964 failed as well (neither side included here), but after no further releases to the end of 1965 as the North American labels tried to figure out a response to the British influence, he finally had a hit when another of his compositions (this time in conjunction with Eddie Holland), the funky Function at the Junction reached # 42 R&B/# 97 Hot 100 b/w Call On Me (omitted here) on Soul 35021.
A cover of the Big Bopper's classic Chantilly Lace b/w Your Love Is Amazing (Soul 35031) in February 1967 also failed, and for reasons known only to the producer, an alternate version of Chantilly Lace is included, and they omit the flip. A full year would then pass before his next release, Night Fo' Last, hit # 42 R&B and # 75 Hot 100 in March 1968 b/w with an instrumental version of the same song on Soul 35040, featuring Shorty at the organ. Both those sides are here.
Later that spring Dewey "Pigmeat" Markham put out a tune for the Chess label based upon his running gag on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In - Here Comes The Judge - which reached # 4 R&B/# 19 Hot 100, but it was Shorty's cover that became the major hit, also reaching # 4 R&B but a much higher # 8 Hot 100 b/w Sing What You Wanna on Soul 35044. Again, both are here. Tracks 4, 5, 8, 9, 11 and 12 are from the 1968 LP Soul SS-709 "Here Comes The Judge" while tracks 15 to 26 are from the 1969 album Soul 719 "The Prime Of Shorty Long."
Even with his limited singles success, by now Berry had given him the green light to produce his own material, something also accorded only to Smokey Robinson, and it seemed like Shorty was finally on his way as his album sales were strong. But on June 29, 1969 he and his friend Oscar Williams both perished in a boating accident on the Ontario side of the Detroit River. He was just 29. Shorty was posthumously inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1980.
This has great sound reproduction and informative notes, but there is simply too much left out to warrant more than 4 stars. A 2-CD set including those missing sides, and perhaps his Tri-Phi output, would have made this THE definitive Shorty Long volume.