Various Artists

Hitsville: The Making of Motown

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Very few record labels created and released a body of work as distinctive as Motown did in its glory days of the '60s and '70s. Fewer still had a style so recognizable that it practically became a genre in itself. Motown's exacting balance of grit and refinement, emotionally vivid vocals wedded to music with superb hooks and adventurous production, made stars of artists like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross & the Supremes, Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, the Four Tops, and many more. Even though all of those acts had star power to spare, the Motown sound (and brand) was as much a part of their success as their own performances, something that was recognized by casual listeners as much as obsessive record collectors. If there ever was a record label whose story had the potential to be a great movie, it's Motown, and the Showtime television network debuted a documentary in 2019, Hitsville: The Making of Motown, that charted the company's rise to success, created with the participation of label founder Berry Gordy. Never an organization to miss a marketing opportunity, Motown of course released a companion album to the film, and in many respects Hitsville: The Making of Motown is not an especially remarkable collection. The album isn't a particularly deep dive into the Motown catalog; everything on board is a recognizable hit, there are no rarities or unreleased tracks, and these are the versions of the songs you've been hearing for decades. There are no surprises to be found, and given the huge number of compilations that have been drawn from the Motown archives over the years, there's ultimately nothing that truly sets this one apart. That said, this is still truly outstanding music, no less thrilling in 2019 than it was in the years it was released, and songs like "My Girl," "Where Did Our Love Go," "The Tracks of My Tears," "Uptight (Everything's Alright)," and "What's Going On" are timeless for the very best reason. Motown was a label that treated the making of hit singles as both a science and an art form, and the songs collected on Hitsville: The Making of Motown show their skills were on point in every respect. If you already have a large collection of classic Motown sides, this album probably offers you nothing you need, but as a handy sampler of some of the greatest, most enduring pop and soul of the era, this does the job and every tune is a winner. [Hitsville: The Making of Motown was released in two editions: a single-disc version that features 16 songs and an expanded two-disc set that includes those same 16 tracks and adds 19 other hits for a total of 35 selections. The single-disc edition is less expensive, the expanded version has more music, the packing is practically the same, and both are loaded with great, familiar hits. Either way, you get a good sampler that's great listening.]

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 05:27
2 02:35
3 02:41
4 02:59
5 02:47
6 03:47
7 02:54
8 03:53
9 02:38
10 02:49
11 02:44
12 02:55
13 02:59
14 03:58
15 03:17
16 03:19
17 02:39
18 03:00
19 02:59
blue highlight denotes track pick