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Author Topic: What Was Motown's Best Period?  (Read 9168 times)
Jay
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« Reply #25 on: January 11, 2013, 12:22:40 AM »

I think that most of Motown's 15 or so years of existence were pretty much perfect. Personally, I love their "psychedelic soul" period, from roughly 1967 to 1973. Pretty much anything that Norman Whitfield touched turned to gold in that era.
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« Reply #26 on: January 11, 2013, 03:35:53 AM »

I think that most of Motown's 15 or so years of existence were pretty much perfect. Personally, I love their "psychedelic soul" period, from roughly 1967 to 1973. Pretty much anything that Norman Whitfield touched turned to gold in that era all the time.

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« Reply #27 on: January 11, 2013, 08:54:55 AM »

Motown existed for far longer than 15 years. I mean, why would someone think that?
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« Reply #28 on: January 11, 2013, 09:17:43 AM »

Something to do with the move to LA? It's been a while since I watched Standing In The Shadows... but I thought it would have been final by that point.

Plus, everyone here except us seems to hate disco so they might be ignoring it on that basis  Grin
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« Reply #29 on: January 11, 2013, 09:23:58 AM »


Plus, everyone here except us seems to hate disco so they might be ignoring it on that basis  Grin

Well, more for us. Me, I'll put Don't Leave Me This Way and Love Hangover up there with anyone's You Can't Hurry Love.
Motown wasn't sold to MCA until 1988, so that takes it to about 30 years. And one could argue that the company's history still continued after that, even though it was not independent any more.
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« Reply #30 on: January 12, 2013, 01:34:08 AM »

I just simply forgot to put in the word "first", that's all. I meant to say their first 15 years.
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« Reply #31 on: January 12, 2013, 08:27:31 AM »

I just simply forgot to put in the word "first", that's all. I meant to say their first 15 years.


Ahh, I see.
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« Reply #32 on: January 12, 2013, 10:08:56 PM »

Specifically, up until the original office moved. I believe that was around 1973?
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« Reply #33 on: January 12, 2013, 10:49:03 PM »

1972. But the period after that, all the way up through Rick James' Street Songs, is as underrated as folks here feel the post-hit years Beach Boys are.
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« Reply #34 on: January 12, 2013, 11:15:43 PM »

My liking of R&B music kind of ends around the mid 1970's, except for The Temptations. As a result I don't know much about Motown and it's artists from about the mid 1970's and onward.
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« Reply #35 on: January 13, 2013, 12:19:07 AM »

Same for me. By the late 70's, everybody known as a soul or r&b artist was expected to do disco - don't get me wrong, some of the early records classified as disco were very good (George McCrae's Rock Your Baby, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes' The Love I Lost), but as time went on, it got very predictable and bland sounding. Although even that stuff sounds better to my ears than most of the stuff that's come out since then called 'dance music'. Somewhere along the way, they stopped using real drummers, bass players, guitars, etc, and did it all with machines. Just no comparison there between the machines playing it and the Funk Brothers, or the Stax band.
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« Reply #36 on: January 13, 2013, 11:06:11 AM »

Motown's disco records are no more formulaic and factory-generated than the mid-60's stuff. I mean, Holland-Dozier-Holland created a record entitled It's The Same Old Song.
The problem was not in disco, it was in the R&B field, when everything became too smooth and slow. Admittedly, Lionel Richie was a big part of this, when he wrote Three Times A Lady (ironically, to that point, the Commodores were a heavy, sexy funk band, Motown's Ohio Players). But Motown also produced the vital counterbalance to this trend, Rick James, who should get a lot of the credit that Prince receives.
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« Reply #37 on: January 25, 2013, 11:12:09 PM »

I would agree with the view that 1965 up to the time they left Detroit for LA in 1972. Honestly, you can't beat those Funk Brothers numbers can you...especially on Marvin Gaye's What's Going On album.
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« Reply #38 on: February 03, 2013, 11:07:12 PM »

Not a popular opinion, but to me, Motown was never better than its 1961-1963 output. So many fantastic sounds by The Miracles, Mary Wells, Eddie Holland, Marvin Gaye (before he went into heavier R&B, he tried his hand at standards and soul-pop with great results), The Marvelettes, and the early efforts of the "no-hit" Supremes.

Yeah I guess I'd agree with that.  Their sound was really good when they were doing the straight forward stuff in the early days.  When they first developed that 'groove'.
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« Reply #39 on: February 04, 2013, 12:38:54 AM »

I always think of Motown at their absolute peak around 1966, but heard an AT0 year end countdown from 1970 recently, and they were still very dominant. I think they had 4 of the top 10 records of the year.
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« Reply #40 on: February 04, 2013, 10:40:52 PM »

I think from 1960-80 you will find the best stuff. If we are talking singles I would say from 1965-72 is hard to beat.
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« Reply #41 on: February 07, 2013, 06:02:12 PM »

R&B in general, not just Motown, pretty much started to show its first signs of suckitude during the disco era, and took a nosedive into complete crapdom during the 80s, and left us with awful adult contemporary posing as R&B and shitty R&B-Hip Hop hybrids in the 90s and 00s. Motown moving to LA and changing to following trends instead of setting (with a few notable exceptions) them didn't really help much.
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« Reply #42 on: February 07, 2013, 06:52:59 PM »

I don't think disco should be mentioned as having any negative effect upon R&B. It had a parallel history. Soul acts dipped into it, but so did pop acts.
As hard as it may be to fault the Philly soul movement in any way, the smoothness of that genre is actually a major influence upon R&B/soul going down the route of slow blandness, once it was mixed with an even lighter pop sound. And Motown actually was a major determining force in that move, with Lionel Richie's early Commodores ballads, as opposed to just "following trends", as stated before.
Motown set trends all the way through Boys II Men. But if we are talking about Motown losing its status as the major trendsetter in the R&B field, that happened well before the move to LA. Even Cloud Nine was an attempt to follow the harder soul-rock sound of Sly and the Family Stone.
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« Reply #43 on: February 07, 2013, 08:38:16 PM »


Motown set trends all the way through Boys II Men.

Boyz II Men were (talented) bland MOR adult contemporay posing as R&B. Possibly victims of their era. The Funk Brothers or Booker T and the MGs would have improved their songs 100 fold.

Lionel Ritchie should have been banished from the music business when he decided to switch from funk songs to cheesy balladry.  Angry Angry Angry Angry Angry
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« Reply #44 on: February 07, 2013, 08:50:41 PM »


Motown set trends all the way through Boys II Men.

Boyz II Men were (talented) bland MOR adult contemporay posing as R&B. 

I agree. They still set a trend, unfortunately, and had many imitators. They are the biggest selling act in Motown history. One thing I will say for them is that they at least had some element of reference to Motown's history, naming their album Cooleyhighharmony and making a hit out of GC Cameron's lost classic It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday (the theme from Cooley High, a great film released by AIP-Motown's association with the film is one of the hippest moments in their history, along with releasing the soundtracks to Foxy Brown, The Mack and Hell Up In Harlem).
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« Reply #45 on: February 08, 2013, 07:02:48 PM »


Motown set trends all the way through Boys II Men.

Boyz II Men were (talented) bland MOR adult contemporay posing as R&B. 

They are the biggest selling act in Motown history.

Are they really? I'd have thought Stevie, Smokey, the Temps, Jackson 5, Supremes, Marvin Gaye, or Four Tops would lay claim to that title.

But didn't they technically record for Universal, with Motown simply as the imprint/subsidiary?  I wouldn't count anything from after Berry Gordy sold the label.
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« Reply #46 on: February 08, 2013, 07:34:00 PM »

My Motown tastes are kind of eccentric and my choice of best - or rather, favorite - era varies with the artist.

Marvin Gaye: 1964-66 (apart from the later duets with Tammi and What's Going On)

Supremes: After H-D-H (and even then I like some of the post-Diana sides better than the ones with her)

Stevie Wonder: Music Of My Mind and Talking Book, then Secret Life Of Plants

Four Tops: 1967-68

Smokey & Miracles: mostly 1963-65
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« Reply #47 on: February 08, 2013, 08:51:08 PM »


Motown set trends all the way through Boys II Men.

Boyz II Men were (talented) bland MOR adult contemporay posing as R&B. 

They are the biggest selling act in Motown history.

Are they really? I'd have thought Stevie, Smokey, the Temps, Jackson 5, Supremes, Marvin Gaye, or Four Tops would lay claim to that title.

But didn't they technically record for Universal, with Motown simply as the imprint/subsidiary?  I wouldn't count anything from after Berry Gordy sold the label.

No, they were on the Motown label full stop, tho after it was sold to MCA. You can choose to not count them if you wish, but technically, they count.
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« Reply #48 on: February 09, 2013, 11:25:13 PM »

I think from 1960-80 you will find the best stuff. If we are talking singles I would say from 1965-72 is hard to beat.
Yeah, I'm thinking singles; the early Motown albums, like a lot from that era, were usually just a couple of hit singles surrounded by filler. Marvin, of course, changed that with What's Going On? and Stevie with those great 70's albums.
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« Reply #49 on: February 10, 2013, 03:39:31 AM »

I was about to be like 'you call this filler?!' then checked and they released it as a single anyway. But I'll post it anyway because it is AMAZING.

Baby Don't You Do It, by Marvin Gaye.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Bf3S6VpCZE
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All roads lead to Kokomo. Exhaustive research in time travel has conclusively proven that there is no alternate universe WITHOUT Kokomo. It would've happened regardless.
What is this "life" thing you speak of ?

Quote from: Al Jardine
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