Various Artists

It's the Same Old Song: More Songs of the Motor City

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This excellent compilation of Holland-Dozier-Holland tunes almost unintentionally separates itself into two acts. The first portion has later Detroit artists taking on classic HDH tunes from the Motown era. The performances barely match up to the brilliant originals, but ultimately they still emote a level of soulful intensity that could only come from Detroit soul. Interspersed with these covers are original releases from several of the well-known Invictus/Hot Wax/Music Merchant camps, and a strange inclusion of Grandmaster Flash's rendition of "It's a Shame." However, it's the second disc where the pure spirit and raw emotion of later HDH productions come to life. It's almost as if Sequel threw the first disc together as a warm-up for the treasures found on here. The political fuel of the Whatnauts' "Message from a Black Man" ramps up to the symphonic joy of Freda Payne's stunning gem "Suddenly It's Yesterday," which gives way to the equally brilliant "I Shall Not Be Moved," courtesy of the Barrino Brothers. Contributions from Brenda Holloway, Laura Lee, Chairmen of the Board, and Lamont Dozier himself round the compilation out, but not before James Ingram and Zingara take things home with their cult soul ballad "Love's Calling." This could have been an amazing one-disc release, but to limit the breadth of HDH's output during this time would only make for an incomplete picture of their creative evolution. An absolutely essential release for HDH/Motown/Northern soul fanatics looking to fill those gaping holes in their collections.

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