Various Artists

A Motown Christmas, Vol. 2

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Appearing almost three decades after the first volume, which topped charts in 1973, A Motown Christmas, Vol. 2 collects 14 holiday tracks from the biggest and best stable of soul singers ever seen. Unfortunately, several of these tracks were recorded long after Motown's prime era; the Temptations' "Love Comes With Christmas" and "The Little Drummer Boy" are rather maudlin affairs from their 1980 holiday record Give Love at Christmas, while the Jackson 5's "Up on the House Top" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" are fluffy throwaways. Still, half a dozen of the tracks are previously unreleased (at least, in their original mixes) and the rarities are interesting for Motown collectors. Marvin Gaye contributes the bizarre yet affecting "Purple Snowflakes," while Ronnie White and house band the Funk Brothers contribute two tracks: "Winter Wonderland" and "Xmas Twist" (the last billed as the Twistin' Kings). Stay tuned after the 14-song program for Christmas shout-outs from the Supremes, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, Eddie Kendricks of the Temptations, Duke Fakir of the Four Tops, and the Spinners.

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