Discussion in 'Music' started by Tommy Tainant, Jan 12, 2019.
60 years today. Imagine a world without Motown ?
What's Smokey Robinson worth now? about 500 million?
Definately some of the best music in the history of the world. I lived with my grandfather in Detroit for a short period of time as a kid and used to hang out in front of the original Hitsville building to get autographs. Most of the performers even took pictures with us. I still have a silver dollar and an autographed 45 record of "My Girl" that David Ruffin (Temptations lead singer) gave me. Wonderful memories.
In the film Paul Gambaccini laments the fact that modern artists dont use their music to call for change.Whats Going On has no modern equivalent.
Music was bigger and better back then and that makes me sound like someone I would hate.
Why did Motown exist? Why Detroit? Was it because of car production and a healthy middle class that was raising the conscience of the community? I'd love to understand the social circumstances that created this, much like Seattle created so many rock stars from Hendrix to Nirvana.
I grew up on Motown, among a great variety of music my mother in particular exposed me to. MoTown is uniquely American, lead by Marvin Gaye in my opinion in terms of my own personal favourites from that era, but so many others obviously. Their influence was far reaching.
Yes, there was often a message behind the music, but to me, it was just soulful, funky expression. They were musicians, it was a craft. I think of Stevie Wonders and his creativity, the funky side of Motown if you will. Superstition influenced Led Zeppelin when they wrote Trampled Underfoot (about as big an endorsement of your talent as one might get, some cool photos of them all together in the 70s) and he did a great amount of work with others Motown artists behind the scene. The Temptations broad sound and style, Michael Jackson being heavily influenced by Diana Ross.
Indeed, Motown was important to music. I say, not as important as the less heralded blues artists who really influenced the youth in Britain in particular, and rock in America, (from the Beatles, to Rolling Stones, Zeppelin and others), but it was own genre on it's own, unique and creative.
From what I have heard from some people who were associated with Motown, there were a
number of contributing factors to their success. One was timing. The "Doo Wop" groups of the 50's were declining, Elvis Presley, though still popular made more movies than music in the mid 60's, and performers like Little Richard and Chuck Berry were not putting out new hits. Also branding played a big part. Berry Gordy had a look and a style in mind. The groups all were immaculate, in their attire and stage presence. The girl groups like the Supremes, and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were given etiquitte lessons.
But most of all, it was the "sound". When a Motown record was played on the air, you knew right away that was their music. Their studio band, "The Funk Brothers" were a big part of that. It was "The Motown Sound". Finally the single biggest factor was social change.....the end of segregation and the beginning of the Vietnam War, so in a way Motown was also a sign of hope and a return to some of the innocence of the 50's, but with a new sound that appealed to nearly everyone of every race. Detroit just happened to be where it all started.
This article tells a little more.
What Made Motown Records So Great?
In that vein this is one of my favorites.
The Temptations- Ball of Confusion
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