Do You Love Them? The Contours’ Lost Motown Classics Arrive on CD

Early Motown act The Contours received a new lease on life back in 1988 when Dirty Dancing (and its More Dirty Dancing soundtrack) introduced a new generation to their 1962 hit single, “Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance).” The song made a return appearance on the Billboard chart more than 25 years after its original appearance, and the group even performed live as part of the Dirty Dancing Tour. Prior to that, the Contours hadn’t seen many glory days since 1967. That was when the group disbanded upon the conclusion of their Motown contract after years of taking a backseat to higher profile artists like The Temptations, The Four Tops and The Miracles. Still, The Contours left behind a rich musical legacy that has been anthologized over the years, largely due to the strength of “Do You Love Me.”

Ace Records’ Kent label has just announced a new release that’s sure to bring further prominence to the group: the March 28 first-time issue of their long-lost 1964 LP Dance with The Contours, once purportedly scheduled for Gordy 910. (Motown Minutiae Time: Some sources cite Can You Dance as the title of the aborted LP, but The Complete Motown Singles Volume 4 confirms the title as the one being used by Kent, Dance with The Contours. To further complicate matters, Motown authority and this release’s annotator Keith Hughes told the Soulful Detroit Forum, “I can add that although some Motown discographies have actually listed an album with this title, we’ve not managed to uncover a single piece of original paperwork suggesting such an LP was ever planned, so we’ve made the track listing up…”) Whether an LP was planned in 1964 or not, the new release compiles the two tracks released as singles from those 1964 sessions (“Can You Do It,” with its musical reference to “Do You Love Me,” and “Can You Jerk Like Me,” released just before The Miracles’ “Come On, Do the Jerk”) along with a staggering 24 previously unreleased tracks! Even more excitingly, Kent promises that this will be the “first of several CDs” issued “under legal license from, and with the full approval of, the owners of the Motown catalogue.” (Ace/Kent actually has released a prior Motown collection, the superb The Satintones Sing!) Hit the jump for more on this lost treasure, including pre-order information and the track listing! 

Most of the tracks on Dance with The Contours are set to a beat sure to send you straight to the dance floor, although Kent cheekily promises that there are a “couple of slower sides thrown in to give old timers a bit of breathing space.” Many cuts refer to specific dances, as was common at the time: “Do the See Saw,” “He Couldn’t Do the Crossfire,” “Let’s Do the Uncle Willie” and “The Limbo is Here to Stay” are among the titles of the unreleased songs! (“Crossfire” has been referred to in many discographies as “He Couldn’t Do the Monkey.” Hughes promises that this anomaly will be cleared up in his text. “Do the See Saw” is a much-bootlegged track making its official debut here!) The Contours’ sense of humor should also be clear on a song like “Minnie the Ugly Duckling,” not to mention the risqué-titled “I Didn’t Know How Right It Was (But Ooh What a Night It Was)!”

All songs have been remastered by the Kent team from the original ¼-inch master tapes, including the two previously-released tracks. Keith Hughes’ liner notes incorporate a January 2011 interview with Joe Billingslea, a founding member of The Contours, as well as recollections from Sylvester Potts, an early group member who joined in 1961. (Billingslea currently tours as The Contours with Joe Billingslea” while Potts also tours his rival group as “The Contours featuring Sylvester Potts.”)

Dance with The Contours makes its debut in the U.K. on March 28, and should be available stateside on April 5. Stay tuned to The Second Disc for full updates on Kent’s future plans for the Motown catalogue!

The Contours, Dance with the Contours (Ace/Kent, 2011)

  1. Can You Do It
  2. Do the See Saw
  3. He Couldn’t Do the Crossfire
  4. I Don’t Walk to Talk
  5. Foot Stomping Time
  6. The Limbo is Here to Stay
  7. Let’s Do the Uncle Willie
  8. Party Groove
  9. Okey Dokey
  10. Love is Uncertain
  11. Shake Everything You Got
  12. Giant Steps
  13. It Doesn’t Have to Be So
  14. Minnie the Ugly Duckling
  15. Wanted
  16. Boy Meets Girl
  17. Don’t You Wanna Go
  18. You Changed My Life Around
  19. You Hurt Me So
  20. Throw You Out of My Mind
  21. Tonight
  22. I Didn’t Know How Right It Was (But Ooh What a Night It Was)
  23. Somebody’s Daughter Oughta
  24. Nobody Fine as Dinah
  25. Can You Jerk Like Me
  26. I Can’t Stop Dancing

Track 1 from Gordy single G-7029-A, 1964
Tracks 2-24, 26 previously unreleased, rec. c. 1964
Track 25 from Gordy single G-7037-A, 1964

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