Reviews by - Lindsay Planer

We can't forget the Motorcity this week as we have a trio of recent releases from the vaults and archives of Motown.

Gladys Knight & The Pips -- Gold (Hip-O/UMe/SonyBMG)

Although Gladys Knight & The Pips are Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame inductees -- racking up eight Grammies and nearly as many American Music Awards -- Gold (2006) is their very first inclusive anthology.

The 39 selections are presented chronologically, commencing with Knight & Co.'s earliest hits "Every Beat Of My Heart," "Letter Full Of Tears" and "Giving Up." During their eight-year association with the Soul Records subsidiary of Motown, the combo cut the up-tempo and funky "I Heard It Through The Grapevine," "If I Were Your Woman," "Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)," Friendship Train," "I Don't Want To Do Wrong," and "Daddy Could Swear, I Declare."

They continued throughout the 1970s with a string of strong sides, such as their trademark "Midnight Train To Georgia" as well as "I've Got To Use My Imagination," "Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me," "On and On," "I Feel A Song (In My Heart)," and an unforgettable coupling of "The Way We Were" and "Try To Remember".

But the timeless treasures don't stop there as Gold mines a handful of choice latter era material. Most notable are "Save The Overtime (For Me)," "Hero (aka Wind Beneath My Wings)," "You're Number One (In My Book)," "Love Overboard" and the three-way diva trifecta on "Superwoman," that also boasts contributions from Knight, Dionne Warwick and Patti LaBelle.

Various Artists -- The Complete Motown Singles: Volume 6, 1966 (Hip-O Select/Motown)

For those keeping score -- and counting the five entries found here -- The Complete Motown Singles series is up to a whopping 32 discs. Volume Six merely marks the halfway point, which will ultimately see the re-release of every A & B side issued during the label's seminal Detroit era ('59 - '71). More than just a thorough composite of Motown's copious output, The Complete Motown Singles is an aural pop music chronology of the 1960s. As the artwork proudly signifies, 1966 marked the time that the phrase “The Sound of Young America” became indelibly identified as the imprint's insignia.

It was also the year that unleashed a non-stop torrent of enduring music. A glance at the contents reveals "This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)" (Isley Bros.), "(I’m A) Road Runner" (Jr. Walker & The All Stars), "Function At The Junction" (Shorty Long), "What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted" (Jimmy Ruffin), "Heaven Must Have Sent You" (The Elgins), "It Takes Two" (Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston) and "The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game" (The Marvelettes) are among the most memorable tunes. Vocal groups such as The Four Tops scored with "Shake Me, Wake Me (When It’s Over)," "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever," "Reach Out (I'll Be There)" and "Standing In The Shadows Of Love," while the Temptations contributed "Get Ready," "Ain’t Too Proud To Beg," "Beauty's Only Skin Deep" and "(I Know) I'm Losing You". The Supremes held their own against their male counterparts with "Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart," "You Can’t Hurry Love" and "You Keep Me Hangin’ On" all debuting during 1966.

Among the fascinating audio oddities is the promotional 45 that included "Loraine Alterman Interviews Marvin Gaye" and the flipside, Gaye's take on "The Teen Beat Song". There are also two tracks by a generally unknown unit called the Mynah Birds, featuring none other than a future 'Godfather of Grunge' and a self-proclaimed 'Super Freak', years before either Neil Young or Rick James made it famous. Plus, listen for a few 'hidden' and unlabelled aural easter eggs.

The ultra retro packaging matches all previous installments with its faux reproduction of a 78-rpm-era  [think: photo] 'album'. The 45 rpm single -- accompanying each box set -- is the Four Tops’ “Reach Out I’ll Be There” b/w “Until You Love Someone.” The Complete Motown Singles: Vol. 6: 1966 is limited to an edition of 6,000 and details can be found on-line at <www.hiposelect.com>.

Lindsay Planer is a freelance journalist and technical producer at WBT AM/FM in Charlotte, NC. He is a regular contributor to All Music Guide, CrutchfieldAdvisor.com and Gaston Gazette. Comments and questions can be sent to <asthediscspins@earthlink.net>.


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