1965 was a key year for The Sound of Young America. In a tumultuous twelve-month period which saw the Selma to Montgomery marches, the United States’ escalation of military forces in South Vietnam, and the assassination of Malcolm X, the music of Motown was a cultural touchstone that spread unifying messages of love and togetherness. Berry Gordy’s label scored five Pop chart-toppers in 1965: The Supremes’ “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “Back in My Arms Again” and “I Hear a Symphony,” The Temptations’ “My Girl,” and The Four Tops’ “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch).” Other songs missed the top spot but have still become immortal – The Miracles’ “Ooo Baby Baby” and “The Tracks of My Tears,” Martha and the Vandellas’ “Nowhere to Run,” Jr. Walker and the All Stars’ “Shotgun,” Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar” and Stevie Wonder’s “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” among them. Perhaps 1965 could be best summed up by the title of a promotional single recorded by The Supremes (as well as Jay and the Americans and The Blossoms) to advocate for employment equality: “Things Are Changing.” The lyric added “For the better” as an encouraging, optimistic message in the face of the era’s social upheaval.
In this year which also saw Gordy launch the influential Tamla Motown imprint in the U.K., the Motown family of labels, as usual, left behind a treasure trove of great music in the vaults. Today has happily seen the release of the fourth annual installment of the Motown Unreleased series. This digital-only series – instigated by the European Union’s “use it or lose it” copyright provision which has also influenced other major releases this year including the latest volume of Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series – has seen the release of dozens of never-before-heard Motown masters from the label’s top artists. And this year’s title is no exception.
Motown Unreleased 1965, a digital-only release, includes previously unreleased tracks from legends like Stevie Wonder (“Dance Yeah Dance,” “‘Til 12 O’Clock,” “Funny (How Time Slips Away)” and “About My Baby,” the latter two with Clarence Paul), The Four Tops (“Just Your Love” and an alternate vocal version of “I Like Everything About You”), Smokey Robinson (“Try a Little Tenderness,” “I Cried for You” and an alternate of “Going to a Go-Go”), Brenda Holloway (“My Precious Dreams,” “What Have I Done to Myself”), Martha and the Vandellas (an alternate of “Can’t Break the Habit”), The Spinners (“While the City Sleeps”) and The Temptations (an alternate of “I Got Heaven Right Here on Earth”). Other Motown favorites represented on the set include Chris Clark with “I Don’t Want You Anymore” and a rendition ofThe Beatles’ “Yesterday,” one-time big-band songbird Connie Haines with Ron Miller and Orlando Murden’s beloved “For Once in My Life,” plus tunes by Oma Heard, The Lewis Sisters, Shorty Long, The Monitors and others.
This 28-track, 77+-minute anthology of prime material from Hitsville USA, 1965, is available now at the Amazon link below as well as from all fine digital service providers! It makes a perfect companion to the recent releases from Diana Ross (the lost album Diana Ross Sings Songs from The Wiz) and The Supremes (Merry Christmas: Expanded Edition)!
Various Artists, Motown Unreleased 1965 (UMe/Motown, 2015) (Amazon U.S.)
- Dance Yeah Dance – Stevie Wonder
- While the City Sleeps – The Spinners
- ‘Til 12 O’Clock – Stevie Wonder
- Goodbye Eilene – Shorty Long
- My Precious Dreams – Brenda Holloway
- Stuck-Up – Oma Heard
- Just Your Love – The Four Tops
- What Have I Done to Myself – Brenda Holloway
- Didn’t I – The Hit Pack
- Can’t Break the Habit (Alternate Version) – Martha and the Vandellas
- Funny (How Time Slips Away) – Clarence Paul and Stevie Wonder
- About My Baby – Clarence Paul and Stevie Wonder
- Stepping Closer to Your Heart – The Monitors
- Lucky Lucky Me – Ivy Jo Hunter
- Try a Little Tenderness – Smokey Robinson
- I Cried for You – Smokey Robinson
- I Like Everything About You (Alternate Vocal Version) – The Four Tops
- It – Little Lisa
- My Daddy Knows Best – Little Lisa
- It’s Got to Be Love – The Monitors
- Going to a Go-Go (Alternate Version) – Smokey Robinson
- For Once in My Life – Connie Haines
- Baby You Know You Ain’t Right (Alternate Slow Version) – Jr. Walker and the All Stars
- Yesterday – Chris Clark
- Determination – Ivy Jo Hunter
- I Got Heaven Right Here on Earth (Alternate Version) – The Temptations
- I Don’t Want You Anymore – Chris Clark
- Can’t Figure It Out – The Lewis Sisters
All tracks previously unreleased.