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"...Mama Just Hung Her Head And Said..."
on 6 January 2014
There's a photograph on page 125 of this 14th and final box set for "The Complete Motown Singles" Series that will make most Motown aficionados weak at the knees. It shows a lady in the original Motown Tape Library filing master boxes. I don't know if this mythical place has ever been snapped before - but there's a room I'd like to spend an hour or two in. And I mention it because it's typical of the in-depth and lavish nature of this truly amazing series - beautifully presented and full of fan-pleasing goodies.
UK released Monday 6 January 2014 - "The Complete Motown Singles Vol. 12B: 1972" on Hip-O Select B0019213-02 (Barcode 602537532193) breaks down as follows:
Disc 1 (overall Disc No. 71) has 22 tracks, 69: 26 minutes
Disc 2 (overall Disc No. 72) has 20 tracks, 63:08 minutes
Disc 3 (overall Disc No. 73) has 19 tracks, 70:17 minutes
Disc 4 (overall Disc No. 74) has 18 tracks, 65:11 minutes
Disc 5 (overall Disc No. 75) has 21 tracks, 69:03 minutes
The comprehensively annotated pages give you all the details you'd want - writers, arrangers, exact catalogue numbers, release dates, session and recording details from the official Motown files and a paragraph on each release (some of which are over two pages long). There are also some of the most beautiful photographs of artists ever produced - fabulous full-page plates. To top it all off are three detailed indexes at the rear - Artist, Title and Label.
A word about the sound quality - the remastering has been done by ELLEN FITTON who I've noted before for top quality work (I'be tagged many of her releases on Amazon for a pictorial). It has to be said that to my ears - this is the very best I've ever heard Seventies Motown sound - absolutely sensational. Take tracks like Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" backed with "You've Got It Bad Girl" - WOW! Even better is the Marvin Gaye double whammy "Trouble Man" backed with "Don't Mess With Mr. T" - beautifully clear and full of presence. But the bomb for me is a B-side I've been after on CD for literally decades. "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" is almost 12-minutes long on the album - the single was edited down to four seconds short of 7 minutes - but it's B-side is the rare "Instrumental" version at 4:48 minutes. Although it's not strictly voiceless (a chorus line sung here and there) - it is unique and it just amazing. To my knowledge it makes a first appearance here.
The downside is that it's obvious why so many of the tracks in-between the huge hits didn't make it - most are just too ordinary - some just stylistically out of place. But even the unknowns and less than famous tracks have nuggets too - Rare Earth, The Undisputed Truth, The Crusaders, Valerie Simpson and Eddie Kendricks - all of which are ace. And definite discoveries are Puzzle, Lesley Gore, G.C. Cameron and Willie Hutch.
First proposed in casual conversation in 2004 - Hip-O Select issued Volume Number 1 in early 2005 and only now - in January 2014 - does it finish at 12B covering July to December 1972. 9 years, 75 CDs documenting everything from 1959 to 1972, 1849 singles, 435 Billboard Hot 100 Entries, 60 Number One hits etc. I'm missing only the pricey Volume 1 and 6 in the whole series - but I'm so glad I kept up with the purchases. If we get lucky Hip-O Select are working on the 'Los Angeles' years (1973 onwards).
A truly amazing series goes out with a sonic blast.