Kim Weston

Motown Anthology

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The two-CD, 48-track size of this anthology might be taken to signify a definitive collection of sorts of Kim Weston's recordings for Motown. But while it's of considerable use to Motown collectors, it has to be approached with some caution by less completist-oriented listeners, and can't be classified as a definitive best-of. For one thing, it doesn't include any of her duets with Marvin Gaye, instead being wholly devoted to solo recordings. In addition, the emphasis is very much on rare material, as no less than 34 of the cuts were previously unreleased. So while it does lead off with some of her more familiar Motown songs that actually did find official release in the '60s (including her hits "Take Me in Your Arms [Rock Me a Little While]" and "Helpless"), it's for the most part a dig through unexposed vaults, and doesn't even include all of the solo Motown tracks she put out during the '60s. With your expectations duly adjusted, this is still a worthwhile compilation of one of the Detroit label's less celebrated artists, though it doesn't reveal Weston as one of Motown's more talented ones. She was more likable than spectacular, with a softer, sometimes jazzier edge to her singing than most of her peers at the company, occasionally slightly reminiscent of Dionne Warwick. The jazzy inclination really comes out on "Love Trouble Heartache and Misery," one of the highlights among the unreleased numbers, and the similarity to Warwick is strong on "I Don't Know If I'm Coming or Going," though at other times Motown seemed to be trying to put her into a Mary Wells bag she really didn't fit. Greatest Hits & Rare Classics remains a preferable compilation for the general listener due to its greater and more thorough concentration on her official Motown discography (including her "It Takes Two" hit duet with Gaye). For the Motown fanatic, though, this does offer a lot of unreleased (if somewhat second-division) material penned by major writers at the label like Smokey Robinson and Mickey Stevenson, the most interesting of those tracks being the earlier ones, when the Motown sound wasn't as formulaic as it would become later in the 1960s.

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