Motown's Mowest Story 1971-1973 (VINYL - 2LP)

Diverse Artister

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Motown’s eclectic MoWest subsidiary was established in 1971 and shuttered within a couple years, after ten albums and over 40 singles. Its biggest hit was the Billboard Hot 100 Top Ten “What the World Needs Now Is Love/Abraham, Martin, John,” a hokey and chilling medley slash audio collage credited to Detroit disc jockey Tom Clay. Clay’s labelmates included names like the Commodores, Thelma Houston, Syreeta, and even Frankie Valli, but the releases were rarely successful by any commercial measure -- frequently due to a lack of promotion -- thus rendering the sublabel a blip in the Motown story. As a distinct entity, MoWest has been neglected, though the 1971 singles (via The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 11a and 11b), Valli’s Chameleon, and Syreeta’s self-titled album have been reissued, while the Sisters Love's shelved With Love was unearthed in 2010. A few scattered tracks have popped up on various-artists compilations, too. Light in the Attic nonetheless seized an opportunity to give the majority of the label roster some attention and assembled this hourlong anthology with their typical loving touch. Clay is not featured, though he is discussed in the extensive liner notes. The Devastating Affair, Blinky, and, unfortunately, the Crusaders, are also missing. Even so, this is a very fair representation. The acts that clearly would not have fit on Motown proper are led by Odyssey, a multi-racial, co-ed band represented with three disparate songs from their lone album. Mixing up folk, soul, rock, and jazz, they were something of a less adventurous MoWest answer to Cadet/Concept/Chess' Rotary Connection and would have fit on a concert bill with that band, as well as America, Rare Earth, and the Rascals rather than the Jackson 5 and Temptations. Valli & the Four Seasons, who would issue a Motown album in 1975, get as much attention with three songs pulled from cult classic Chameleon, highlighted by the gorgeously drifting “You're a Song (That I Can't Sing).” G.C. Cameron, who was in the Spinners long enough to score with “It’s a Shame,” contributes the disc’s only minor U.S. hit with the funky strutter “Act Like a Shotgun” (number 40 R&B). He later shifted to Motown for four albums, including a duets LP with Syreeta, whose irresistibly sweet “I Love Every Little Thing About You” and quietly confrontational “Black Maybe,” made with ex-husband Stevie Wonder and synthesizer pioneers Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff (aka T.O.N.T.O.'s Expanding Head Band), are also high points. The remaining songs are all noteworthy in some fashion, but the most thrilling one among them is the Sisters Love's “Give Me Your Love,” which is hotter and more dramatic than the Curtis Mayfield original and Barbara Mason's version. ~ Andy Kellman 493804 Bassist, composer, and bandleader Graham Collier may have gotten the short shrift early in his career for not taking the same iconoclastic position Evan Parker and Derek Bailey did: "Forget American jazz, let's forge something uniquely British" (their pretensions were European though they weren't). His contributions to the jazz canon are finally being seen in light of what they actually are: very forward-looking works that extend the jazz boundary into new chromatic and harmonic regions and have an identity that is distinctly non-American. Collier's modalism is so far outside the norms as to speak an entirely different architectural language. Songs for My Father featured a Collier septet with Harry Beckett on trumpet, pianist John Taylor, saxophonists Alan Wakeman and Bob Sydor, and drummer John Webb. This unique look at shaping traditional jazz narratives in new modal and chromatic lights brings into consideration all of the developments of Coltrane's sonic inclusiveness (which Parker and Bailey did too, though they tried to minimize that aspect) and a dramatic range that leapt off from Gil Evans. The album's opener, "Song One," in elastic 7/4, is a case in point, where front lines collapse a hard bop figure into thirds and then extend the back of the line, where the horns become harmonic planks and Taylor moves around the time signature in counterpoint to the rhythm section. Wakeman's soprano solo is just breathtaking. The moving Spanish motif at the opening of "Song Two (Ballad)" is part of Collier's envisioning of a music he would later revisit with Day of the Dead. The shimmering angularity of "Song Five (Rubato)" is one of Collier's benchmarks as a jazz composer; his utilization of the interval as a way to stretch time in order to allow a melody to impose itself on the frame is remarkable. In sum, Songs for My Father is the first evidence listeners have of the maturing Collier, moving jazz aesthetics around in order to more fully articulate his sophisticated palette. ~ Thom Jurek 783827 This Westside package features the first two albums by this influential and popular doo wop group of the 1950s. Their debut album from 1959, We Are the Imperials, brings together both sides of the group's first four singles (including their mega hit "Tears on My Pillow") plus four sides that were first issued on EPs in the late '50s. But the music on the disc is the group at their best and couldn't be bettered, boasting hits and turntable faves from one of the biggest stars to emerge from Goldner's doo wop stable of talent. The second album was the group's 1961 release, Shades of the 40's, a solid shot at moving the Imperials straight into the swank supper club market. The fare here is '40s standards done dead-straight with nary a rock & roll beat in sight, all designed to appeal to a more sophisticated adult audience. This can be heard to full effect on tracks such as "Loving You," "Glitter in Your Eyes," "Island of Love" (the group's debut disc), "Tragic" (heard here in two different single release forms: the original on Apex and its highly "echoed" reissue on Vee-Jay), "Come to Me," "Forgotten," "Elevator Operator," and "Give a Hug to Me." There's music on here so finely wrought and so heartfelt, certain passages of it will give you the cold chills by its sheer, unaffected beauty. This is much more than a dry history lesson; the Imperials made some mighty music that truly deserves a much wider hearing, and here's exactly where to start absorbing their genius. ~ Cub Koda


  1. Frankie Valli & Four Seasons - You’re A Song (That I Can’t Sing)
  2. Odyssey - Our Lives Are Shaped By What We Love
  3. Sisters Love - Give Me Your Love
  4. G.C. Cameron - Act Like A Shotgun
  5. Syreeta - I Love Every Little Thing About You
  6. Syreeta - Black Maybe
  7. Frankie Valli & Four Seasons - Sun Country
  8. Odyssey - Battened Ships
  9. Suzee Ikeda - I Can’t Give Back The Love I Feel For You
  10. The Commodores - Don’t You Be Worried
  11. Sisters Love - You’ve Got To Make Your Choice
  12. Odyssey - Broken Road
  13. Nu Page - A Heart Is A House
  14. Lodi - I Hope I See It In My Lifetime
  15. Frankie Valli & Four Seasons - The Night
  16. Thelma Houston - I Ain’t Going Nowhere


Utgitt 2011 Format VINYL - 2LP
Sjanger Pop, Soul Antall disker 1
Antall spor 16 Artist Diverse Artister, Diverse Motown, Diverse Soul
Label Light In The Attic Leverandør Border Music Norway AS
Bestillingsnummer LITA064LP