Various Artists

Motor City Hits, Vol. 1

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Though the title of this compilation might lead you to count on or at least hope for something grand, it's not exactly a collection of smash hits associated with Detroit, the Motor City. Instead, it has ten pretty average if diverse soul tracks, only a few performed by acts (the Four Tops, the Miracles, and the Dramatics) who were stars during the actual golden age of Detroit soul. Fairly obscure and unknown names populate the rest of the anthology, although some of these are covers of compositions by Motown greats Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson. A late-period (meaning post-1960s and beyond) Motown feel does permeate some of the glossy production and arrangements, but with the exception of the Marvelettes hit (written by Robinson and covered here by Paul Hill) "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game," none of the songs are in the classic league. Some, indeed, are fairly faceless. Sometimes the Motown/Detroit ties are so tenuous as to be inaudible, one example being Carla Cooke's "Could It Be That All I'm Missing (In My Life Is You)," which is the kind of disco-tinged soul you might expect to hear more of in Miami than Michigan. If you're thinking it's unfair to load on the Motown comparisons, the anthology invites them with its final track, "Motorcity Hits Hall of Fame" (credited to unspecified "various artists"), which has a hammy roll call that name-checks more than a dozen Motown stars.

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