Various Artists

Dancin' in the Street

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    8
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This is a five-star quality release from its opening moments, and a slightly mysterious one at that. The exact reason why Dancin' in the Street's live performances were videotaped and then forgotten is anyone's guess -- it was the last time that key Motortown Revue participants Martha Reeves, Mary Wells, Eddie Kendricks, and David Ruffin participated in a live performance before the cameras. Mary Wells, in particular, is amazing to watch and hear. Videotaped in 1987, the show offers state-of-the-art sound for that period, which is very good -- you can hear the individual guitars in the backing band and the drumming is so close that it's as though it's in the room with you, along with Wells' vocals -- and when she and Curtis Womack do a duet starting with a salute to Sam Cooke and SAR Records, and then Jerry Butler and the Impressions, it was like a little bit of heaven suddenly appearing on the screen and pouring out over the speakers; and when they get to "Bye Bye Baby" and "Shout" -- what couldn't possibly get any better does just that. So the first 25 minutes of this disc, and Wells' and Womack's set alone, are worth the asking price on this disc. Martha Reeves is good but slightly less focused and intense in her set, and hits her stride on "Nowhere to Run," achieving a transcendent intensity on "I'll Have to Let Him Go" -- "Heat Wave" is done a little too fast, but the high notes that Reeves hits are worth the rest of the performance. And that leads us to David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks' set -- Kendricks' falsetto on "Get Ready" is note-perfect as a set opener, and it gets better from there. The whole production is well put together, with highly mobile camera work throughout, and the disc has been given 24 chapters, covering every song performed, and there's also an easy-to-access menu that includes bios, discographies, and audio interviews with the participants.