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Customer Review

on 24 September 2013
Mention the "Motown sound" and you are probably thinking of their golden period in the 1960s, when groups like Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Supremes, and Martha Reeves & The Vandellas put out timeless hit after hit.

But Motown, and its artists, actually adapted well to the disco boom, and the fierce competition that was provided by labels such as Salsoul and Philadelphia International at that time. This 16 track CD - that unfortunately shares its name with a similar compilation - looks to provide some of the evidence of that from the 1970s and the early 1980s.

Selections like Thelma Houston's 'Don't Leave Me This Way', Diana Ross's 'Upside Down', Jermaine Jackson's 'Let's Get Serious', and Eddie Kendricks' 'Keep On Truckin' provide an immediately favourable impression. The inclusion of slightly less well-known, but no less convincing choices such as Teena Marie's 'Behind the Groove', and Magic Disco Machine's '(I Could Never Make) A Better Man Than You', strengthen the argument further. Whilst it is very difficult not to be rapt by the pulsating grooves that underpin The Supremes' 'You're My Driving Wheel' and The Miracles' 'Love Machine' adaptations to the genre.

Of course, you could gripe at the fact that a compilation which claims to feature Motown's "finest disco moments" omits heavyweight contenders such as Diana Ross's 'Love Hangover', and The Commodores' 'Brick House', at the expense of Tata Vega's slightly less convincing 'Get It Up For Love'. And you could question whether the concluding track - The Jackson 5's multi-sectioned 'I Am Love (Parts 1 & 2)' - should really be bracketed as disco at all. The plain presentation and solid, if unspectacular sleevenotes from Bill Brewster, author of Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, are also a bit disappointing given the disco movement's flamboyant sense of aesthetics.

But it's difficult to argue completely against this 2013 compilation. The enduring influence of that era can be heard in the way that pop star Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' borrows heavily from Marvin Gaye's 'Got To Give It Up (Part 1)', or rapper Jay-Z samples Rick James' 'Give It To Me Baby' - as so many others have done - for his song 'Kingdom Come'. Aficionados may wish to sneer condescendingly at the apparent obviousness of many of these choices - but actually not all the material here is immediately recognisable. (Only four of the choices in the running-order graced the Top 40 in the UK Singles Chart). And there are a reasonable enough number of selections on Motown Disco that fulfil disco's ethos of sophistication, elegance, and aspiration, to make this budget-priced release a worthwhile purchase.
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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