The Contours / Dennis Edwards

Just a Little Misunderstanding: Rare and Unissued Motown 1965-68

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The Contours are one of the greatest second-tier Motown acts: a dynamic, versatile soul group characterized as a one- or two-shot wonder, best known for "Do You Love Me" and, in some quarters, the rampaging "First I Look at the Purse." Ace Records has done its fair share of restoring and adding luster to the group's reputation, releasing Dance with the Contours, a 2011 collection of unreleased tracks recorded between 1963 and 1964 that was so successful it spawned this 2014 sequel. Rounding up rare and unissued tracks recorded between 1965-1968 -- including no less than 11 solo sides by Dennis Edwards -- Just a Little Misunderstanding trumps its predecessor largely due to its diversity. Where the cuts on Dance with the Contours followed the early-'60s Motown playbook pretty precisely, there's a greater variety of sounds here: hard-driving dance in the vein of "First I Look at the Purse," plenty of richly orchestrated uptown soul, and songs that sound pitched halfway between the Temptations and the Four Tops. Some of these different sounds are due to the group's ever-shifting lineup. The group's first lead singer, Billy Gordon, left in 1965, Jerry Green took the lead on occasion, and toward the end of their run, Motown put in Dennis Edwards -- a signee who had specialized in supper club soul -- at the front of the group. Edwards continued to cut solo sides in 1967, after he added overdubs to "Baby Hit and Run," which became a U.K. hit posthumously in 1974, and those are collected here; they're all enjoyable, particularly the songs that aren't covers. While it's generally true that the music here simply couldn't compete with what was released -- and, apart from four cuts, every one of the 26 tracks was dug out of the vaults in the new millennium, with most of them debuting here -- they're nevertheless all potent and joyous, proof that among the second-tier Motown groups, the Contours were one of the best, no matter who was singing with them.

Track Listing

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blue highlight denotes track pick