Various Artists

Motown Year By Year: The Sound of Young America, 1968

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The symbiotic relationship between the Motown Sound and the young American culture it claimed to represent was never deeper than in the landmark year of 1968, a year which saw the sweeping changes throughout the country reflected in microcosm by the sweeping changes which hit Berry Gordy's recording empire. Most crucial was the defection of the Holland-Dozier-Holland production trio; in their absence the Motown Sound turned earthy and gritty under the supervision of producer Norman Whitfield, with real-world concerns the subject of sophisticated new hits like the Temptations' "Cloud Nine" (their first record to feature David Ruffin's replacement Dennis Edwards) and the Supremes' "Love Child." Whitfield also helmed 1968's Marvin Gaye chart-topper "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," arguably the label's absolute creative peak and the obvious highlight of this 16-track collection, which also includes hits from Stevie Wonder ("For Once in My Life") and Gladys Knight ("The End of Our Road").

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