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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 18 March 2017
Good reading-its is, as the cover says-the story about Barry Gordy and Motown
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on 28 August 2017
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on 7 December 2015
I read this book directly after reading and enjoying Motown: Music, Money, Sex, and Power by Gerald L. Posner and think that, whilst a great read in it's own right, Nelson George's book comes in a close second place to Posner's efforts.

Whilst dealing with the same subject matter, Nelson George's offering is very informative and could be classed as 'easy reading', whilst Gerald Posner's book takes the understanding of all things Motown to a whole different level, as he takes the time and effort to dig far deeper in to how Motown came to be, highlighting the inputs and influences of key players such as Al Abrams, who get little space in the Nelson George book, yet are key to the legend of Motown and without whom Motown would have genuinely struggled to make it, as other record companies folded and died around them (not forgetting that even the Funk Brothers were also 'invisible' to the public for many years, and they were the 'the music behind the voices'). Key to Nelson George's book is the career direction of Marvin Gaye who holds centre place next to Berry Gordy Jr. (in Posner's book it is Diana 'call me Miss' Ross), and this allows breadth to the depth of what it a great read. As a big Motown fan I would recommend buying both the Nelson George and Gerald Posner book; both are well worth the money, and each adds to the other in offering an understanding of the mechanics behind the magic that was Motown.
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on 20 January 2013
A very pleasant wander through the years of Motown, from the very early beginnings to the final implosion of the Motown sideshow, when the big stars became too big to care about their humble beginnings and deserted the man who gave them their big break. I don't know how true the facts are, but it is a well-written book and I enjoyed reading it.
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VINE VOICEon 4 November 2009
I felt lucky during 2009 to have finally made it To Detroit and a visit to West Grand Boulevard home of Hitsville and a wonderful tour at the original studios. The guide does a wonderful job and he really interacts with the crowd. You get the feel for the atmosphere so much you almost sense the presence Of Smokey Robinson, The Temptations & The Four Tops or Marvin Gaye. I definitely recommend a visit to West Grand Boulevard to notice that nothing has changed in the 50 years since Berry Gordy bought Hitsville.[ Except the artists have now gone] The next best thing to Going to see the Museum is reading this book by Nelson George. There are other books but this one was written around 1985 and was very balanced and fair. Also, George clearly had done his homework in researching all the facts.My only criticisms with all the books I have read on motown is the lack of information on The Isley Brothers. I was a long time fan of them and it was odd how after they left Motown it was as if they had never ever recorded there. I saw them live in 1994 and they didn`t perform one Motown song.And so, to re-cap, great book , great museum in Detroit and brilliant Motown music. You could read the book on the Aeroplane to Detroit.
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on 31 August 2011
Nelson George goes back to the start of Motown and does a thorough description of the growth of perhaps the finest collection of Artists, Writers, Producers and Musicians in one building popular music has ever seen. His retrospective view combined with research shows how the label(s) developed. It appears that he has dismissed the period after 1971, but this book is essentially about the history up to 1972. The sound changed after 1972 and despite the 1970s success it was not the same sound, hence the sub-title.

As a book about the history of popular music it stands comparison with the best.
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on 16 October 2011
Nelson George tells it how it was in the early days of motown and his investigating really shows its own in this book. There are things about motown the early days, that are not general knowlage but its thanks to books like this we are getting to find out.If you are truly a fan of motown then this is one book that I would recommend.
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VINE VOICEon 6 December 2010
My first experience of the "Motown Sound" was listening to a BBC radio show devoted to the company when I was about 12 or 13.

The music has a rhythm and energy that I had seldom heard in the pop music of the early 1980's. I knew nothing about the artists. At such a young age the distinction between black and white music was not a factor. Then I heard a sound I had never heard before......within seconds I reached for the cassette player and pressed "record". I had captured a short part of a song I could not explain but found compelling, joyful and addictive.

The song was "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye.

That song made me force my Mother to buy me my first long playing vinyl album and since that day I have had an undying love for the music of Marvin Gaye. This love of Marvin's music extends to an early appreciation of the underrated yet classic album "Here, My Dear" which in 2007 received glorious "Expanded Edition" treatment.

Marvin Gaye always appeared to me as a sophisticate with a suave and cool exterior. I knew that he had been murdered by his own Father but the greater details about his life where of little consequence when his music seemed to tell me all I needed to know about the artist.

Recently I purchased from Amazon "Where Did Our Love Go?" by Nelson George and "Divided Soul" by David Ritz. I wanted to learn finally and authoritatively about about Motown and particularly about the life of Marvin Gaye.

I read "Where Did Our Love Go?" by Nelson George first and was a little disappointed. The book is very short considering the subject and many interesting facts are omitted. It is well-written but feels slightly rushed. I expected a more in-depth study of the label and its artists. Indeed the book begins with a discussion of the word "authoritative" and challenges the concept due to faulty memories and revisionist intentions. But a biography can be authoritative even if it contains slight errors or perpetuates certain myths. To be authoritative in the biography format is to cover all the bases with a wealth of research and present all of the available facts. In this case "Where Did Our Love Go?" by Nelson George fails simply due to the huge amount of material this biographer chooses to omit.

"Divided Soul" by David Ritz on the other hand is authoritative. David Ritz is confident enough to know or seek out his subject and the biography is a revelation. The disturbing elements in Gaye's character are explored in depth yet there is a sympathy for the man much like those around him had, even when he was behaving at his most belligerent. The paranoia Marvin suffered so greatly in his later life is clearly a result of his cocaine use. This drug has the power to induce extreme paranoia. Cocaine taken regularly, when a person is already mentally confused, fragile, depressed or disturbed only exasperates those conditions.

The lasting impact of this excellent biography are in two areas of Marvin's life. The first is illustrated by a picture of Marvin standing on stage in nothing but a small black "jock strap" with his trousers around his ankles. This "humiliating" image shows how Marvin perversely believed that this was what the audience wanted.

The second is the idea, believed by his family, that Marvin was in fact in control of his actions right up to the last and his murder was in fact a conceived and conscious plan to finally rid his Father from the family for good. This idea is made more palatable by the fact that Marvin gave his Father the gun that indeed finally killed him.

David Ritz's book is one of the best biographies I have read and it should been seen as the authoritative examination of Marvin Gaye's life. I am sure Marvin himself would have been very pleased with the revelatory, sometimes shocking yet wholly honest content of this excellent biography.
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on 19 June 2015
Quite a lot of detail but not enough on the smaller names which are more popular these days.
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on 4 February 2016
Very interesting and well written book about a formative era I Iived through
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