Various Artists

Motown Special, Vol. 1

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From the beginning, Berry Gordy, Jr. was light years ahead of others in the record business in the area of marketing. Gordy always piggybacked lesser-known artists with his hitmakers in an effort to increase their popularity. This LP and the preceding Tamla Special, Vol. 1 were precursors to the popular A Collection of 16 Big Hits series, though their scopes are different. The Tamla/Motown Special albums contained only five artists and ten songs. Each artist is represented by the A- and B-sides of a past recording: Mary Wells' "The One Who Really Loves You," Eddie Holland's "Jamie," the Miracles' "What's So Good About Goodbye," the Marvelettes' "Twistin' Postman," and the blue-eyed soul sounds of the Valadiers' "Greetings This Is Uncle Sam." These A-sides are familiar to all. Of the flips, the Miracles' "I've Been Good to You" is a bawling, bluesy ballad that stands above the rest; Smokey Robinson sings it in a lower register than normal and you can definitely feel his pain. The Marvelettes' flip "I Want a Guy" was later redone by the Supremes for their first Motown recording; neither version merits much attention. The Valadiers display deep-seated doo wop roots on "Take a Chance on Me." The hard-to-find sides by the Valadiers and Eddie Holland make this a worthy collection for the Motown fanatic.

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