Same Old Song


Today marks the anniversary of Berry Gordy starting Motown Records.  When I think of Berry Gordy, for some reason my thoughts always go the first season Kids in the Hall sketch, Salty Ham. 

(comedy nerd say what?)

This will all make sense once you get 4:44 seconds into the sketch.  Trust.

Seriously.  I laugh every single time I see that.

Of course, it's not really about Mr. Gordy, no matter how big his persona is or how much of an innovator he was (for better or for worse).  It's about the music he helped bring to life.  Like everyone else between the ages of 8 and 80 Motown has been a huge part of the soundtrack of my life.  The first record (yes, record, I'm old) that I ever bought with my own money was a four album set of Four Tops music.  It was 1986 and I bought it at Sam the Record Man on Yonge Street.  I still get excited when I see the cover art.

The absolute thrill of holding your very own record in your hands, reading the liner notes, looking at the pictures.  That's something kids today don't get with itunes.  Oh man, did I just say "kids today"?  Holy rapid aging.  Stay tuned tomorrow when I write a blog post about how far I had to walk to school in the snow.

It was hearing this recording of Reach Out, I'll be There on the radio that pulled me in, I think.  Not that I realized this when I was twelve years old, but I think it has a lot to do with Eddie "Bongo" Brown's playing.  I still love this track.

I've shared this Marvin Gaye concert footage on this blog before, but it is truly worth a repeat viewing.  In all seriousness, this may be my favourite thing on Youtube.  I turn to it when I need a Marvin fix, when I'm looking for inspiration for my photography (thank you, Stan Lathan), when I just need to take a moment and when I just plain need to be cheered up.  It doesn't get much better than this, in my opinion.  And yes, that's James Jamerson on bass.

I could listen all day to Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, The Jackson Five and Gladys Knight.  I also recently discovered some neat Billy Eckstine recordings that he did in 1960's for Motown when Gordy signed him because was trying to attract a "middle of the road" listenership.  I had only been familiar with Eckstine's crooner stuff from the 1940's until finding these and was surprised how much fun they were to listen to (and how very well preserved his instrument was).  It was also interesting to learn that Gordy didn't "make" every artist on his label.

At the end of the day though, any discussion on Motown has to begin and end with Stevie Wonder.

Who are your favourite Motown artists?  What are your favourite Motown songs?  Share!

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