Motown Did It First!
That's the campaign slogan for Universal Japan's ongoing program celebrating the venerable label's 60th anniversary. And indeed, the influence of Motown - still the most successful African-American-founded record label of all time - can't be underestimated when considering the current music scene.
A number of physical releases have already been released in Japan to mark the anniversary, most of which are available as affordable imports and include titles not commonly available on the CD format.
This first wave of titles is anchored by the compilation Motown 60, featuring 60 tracks on 3 CDs from Barrett Strong's 1959 "Money (That's What I Want)" (Motown's first hit single) through Ne-Yo's 2018 "Pour Me Up." Along the way, the compilation takes in the expected favorites - The Supremes, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells, Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, The Miracles, The Jackson 5, Diana Ross, Commodores, Lionel Richie - along with some less-expected names including Switch, The Boys, Johnny Gill, Shanice, and current artists like BJ The Chicago Kid and Migos. 60 tracks can't fully explore the breadth of the original Sound of Young America, but this collection does admirably bring the label's story up to the present day.
The label overview has been joined by over 50 single-CD reissues, all of which are housed in standard jewel cases and bear simple, uniform artwork featuring the "Motown Did It First" branding. Original artwork and album sequences are replicated. These titles, some of which are making their standalone debut on CD or have been otherwise unavailable in recent years, include:
Commodores, Caught in the Act (1975)
Commodores, Commodores (1977)
Commodores, Machine Gun (1974)
Commodores, Midnight Magic (1979)
Commodores, Natural High (1979)
Crusaders, Hollywood (with 2 bonus tracks) (1972)
Dazz Band, Keep It Live (1982)
Diana Ross and The Supremes, Love Child (1968)
Diana Ross and The Supremes, Reflections (1968)
DeBarge, All This Love (1982)
Kiki Dee, Great Expectations (1970)
Yvonne Fair, Bitch Is Black (1975)
Fantastic Four, Best of The Fantastic Four (1969)
Four Tops, Reach Out (1967)
Four Tops, Second Album (1965)
Marvin Gaye, In the Groove (I Heard It Through the Grapevine) (1968)
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, United (1967)
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, You're All I Need (1968)
Gladys Knight and The Pips, Neither One of Us (1973)
Gladys Knight and The Pips, Standing Ovation (1971)
Finis Henderson, Finis (1983)
Brenda Holloway, Every Little Bit Hurts (1964)
Jermaine Jackson, Let's Get Serious (1980)
Jackson 5, ABC (1970)
Jackson 5, Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5 (1969)
Rick James, Cold Blooded (1983)
Rick James, Street Songs (1981)
Rick James, Throwin' Down (1982)
Shorty Long, Here Comes the Judge (1968)
Mandre, Mandre (1977)
Martha and The Vandellas, Dance Party (1965)
Martha and The Vandellas, Heat Wave (1963)
Nolen & Crossley, Ambience (1982)
Odyssey, Odyssey (1972)
Lionel Richie, Lionel Richie (1982)
Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Going to a Go-Go (1965)
Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Tears of a Clown (Make It Happen) (1966)
Scherrie and Susaye, Partners (1979)
The Spinners, Second Time Around (1970)
Edwin Starr, War and Peace (1970)
The Supremes, A' Go-Go (1966)
The Supremes, Produced and Arranged by Jimmy Webb (1972)
The Supremes, Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland (1966)
The Supremes, Where Did Our Love Go (1964)
Syreeta, Stevie Wonder Presents Syreeta (1974)
Syreeta, Syreeta (1972)
Temptations, All Directions (1972)
Temptations, Reunion (1982)
Temptations, Truly for You (1984)
Temptations, Wish It Would Rain (1968)
Temptations, With a Lot o' Soul (1967)
Earl Van Dyke, The Earl of Funk (1970)
Earl Van Dyke and The Soul Brothers, That Motown Sound (1965)
Leon Ware, Musical Massage (with 5 bonus tracks) (1976)
Grover Washington, Jr., Mister Magic (1975)
A handful of these titles are available at Amazon U.S. (search for "Universal Japan" or visit this link), while most can be ordered at budget prices from Dusty Groove in Chicago and CD Japan. Watch this space for more news on Motown 60 worldwide!
Joe Mac Pherson says
I hope they will reissue the entire Mary Wells catalogue on CD, too. And The Velvelettes! Meanwhile, thank you for this advance notice on the reissued CD releases!
Philip Houldershaw says
As this reissue series focuses on original albums, it's not likely the Velvelettes will be included, as they never had an album issued. Though they should have!
I hope some rarer titles will appear later in the year, such as The Elgins Darling Baby and Four Tops Now.
I got it in a previous limited CD reissue, but that Odyssey album is GREAT. California pop with a sorta jazzy edge.
Larry Davis says
ISH?? THE ISH?? Foxy Get Off & OXO Whirly Girl & Company B Producer ISH?? Love your work hardcore...oh and these Motown reissues are cool too...
A. Vogt says
Nice selection, and it's great that they're re-issuing Jermaine's "Let Get Serious," definitely a classic. But Jermaine still has another 7 Motown albums that have never been on CD, and they're very worthy of reissuing, especially "Frontiers" from '78. So someone please get on that!
Are these remastered??????
Joe Marchese says
The "Motown 60" compilation has been remastered by Kenji Yoshino; the individual reissues don't appear to have any new credits (in English, anyway) for producer/project manager, mastering engineer, etc.
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' "Flying High Together" is still unissued on CD.
Same with Smokey Robinson & The Miracles' "One Dozen Roses"
Alex duffy says
Good to see Motown re issues, but , like a lot of others , would love to see Glow , by Rick James , become available again on CD, so hard to replace a damaged copy, also Temptations deserve their entire catalogue to become available..Wings of love , Power , etc not available...maybe one day !!!!
Will there be a second wave and when?
Joe Marchese says
I would expect more releases this year, but there has been no official word yet.
How do the individual albums sound? I have several of these but would buy new editions if the sound is better.
Dave H says
For those CD's that were issued as part of the Motown 55th Birthday 1000 campaign, is it the same mastering?
I think there is a few out of print duplicates.
Maurice Kerr says
Only just discovered about these releases. Surely it's time all of the Originals albums had a cd release, and what about Jerry Butler - his third Motown album hasn't been on cd yet.