After the wild success of the first installment of the series, Motown heard the demands of soul fanatics worldwide and issued a second helping of unreleased masters of Motown legends, enough to fill two CDs' worth. It's no secret that the quality control and competition to release a single every week was a knockout, drag-down dog fight between producers, songwriters, and artists, but as the first Cellarful of Motown! proved, it's a head-scratching mystery how some of these tunes never saw the light of day, as they would have been chart hits. This time around, there's plenty more quality to pick and choose from. And with such unreleased treasures being so high in quality, it's easy to feel gluttonous. Don't. This is a compilation for not only the Motown enthusiast, but any serious soul fanatic to dive in and explore with reckless abandonment. Equally important as the quantity and quality of these tracks is the inclusion of several minor players in the Motown story, artists who didn't get the percentage of the limelight as names like Stevie, Marvin, or Diana but remain equally important to the Motown narrative. Contributions from Northern soul icons like J.J. Barnes and Carolyn Crawford are on equal footing with Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder here, and deliver stirring renditions. And while the singers' performances are top notch, once again the Funk Brothers prove to be just as important to the song, in some cases carrying the tunes when the singers stumble. But the mystery remains: how could these not have seen the light of day? It's easily conceivable to envision listening to any of these tunes on AM radio while driving down Grand River Avenue during Motown's golden years in Detroit. Hopefully, these questions will be answered in time with the arrival of subsequent volumes (hopefully published worldwide, as this installment was available in the United States only as a highly priced import). And considering that the Motown studios were open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for several years, the possibility of future volumes isn't out of the question. The well will have to run dry eventually, but here's hoping that moment will happen several generations into the future.
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AllMusic Review by Rob Theakston
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2