Various Artists

All Night Long: Classic Motown 12 Inch 80s Grooves

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It's easy to dismiss what still remained of the venerable Motown imprint by the 1980s -- mainstays like Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson were recording for other labels, Stevie Wonder was reduced to pap like "I Just Called to Say I Love You," and the label's onetime dominance of the cultural landscape was reduced to virtually nothing. But every now and then, Motown was still capable of magic, especially when courting the disco audience -- the two-disc All Night Long documents the label's last fleeting moments of brilliance, when the rise of the extended dance mix expanded the three-minute soul symphonies of days past into sleek, silky epics maximized for dancefloor glory. Before dismissing the set on principle, consider that Diana Ross, collaborating with the production duo of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, reached the creative zenith of her solo career with "I'm Comin' Out" and "Upside Down," included here in their original 12" extended mixes -- likewise, Rick James was at the peak of his powers, unleashing his own "Give It to Me Baby" in addition to helming the Mary Jane Girls' stunning title cut. Granted, not everything here deserves the benefit of hindsight, but much of this material is surprisingly compelling -- proof that the Motown sound was still worth hearing well past its expiration date.

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