Motown’s eclectic MoWest subsidiary was established in 1971 and shuttered within a couple years, after ten albums and over 40 singles. Its biggest hit was the Billboard Hot 100 Top Ten “What the World Needs Now Is Love/Abraham, Martin, John,” a hokey and chilling medley slash audio collage credited to Detroit disc jockey Tom Clay. Clay’s labelmates included names like the Commodores, Thelma Houston, Syreeta, and even Frankie Valli, but the releases were rarely successful by any commercial measure -- frequently due to a lack of promotion -- thus rendering the sublabel a blip in the Motown story. As a distinct entity, MoWest has been neglected, though the 1971 singles (via The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 11a and 11b), Valli’s Chameleon, and Syreeta’s self-titled album have been reissued, while the Sisters Love's shelved With Love was unearthed in 2010. A few scattered tracks have popped up on various-artists compilations, too. Light in the Attic nonetheless seized an opportunity to give the majority of the label roster some attention and assembled this hourlong anthology with their typical loving touch. Clay is not featured, though he is discussed in the extensive liner notes. The Devastating Affair, Blinky, and, unfortunately, the Crusaders, are also missing. Even so, this is a very fair representation. The acts that clearly would not have fit on Motown proper are led by Odyssey, a multi-racial, co-ed band represented with three disparate songs from their lone album. Mixing up folk, soul, rock, and jazz, they were something of a less adventurous MoWest answer to Cadet/Concept/Chess' Rotary Connection and would have fit on a concert bill with that band, as well as America, Rare Earth, and the Rascals rather than the Jackson 5 and Temptations. Valli & the Four Seasons, who would issue a Motown album in 1975, get as much attention with three songs pulled from cult classic Chameleon, highlighted by the gorgeously drifting “You're a Song (That I Can't Sing).” G.C. Cameron, who was in the Spinners long enough to score with “It’s a Shame,” contributes the disc’s only minor U.S. hit with the funky strutter “Act Like a Shotgun” (number 40 R&B). He later shifted to Motown for four albums, including a duets LP with Syreeta, whose irresistibly sweet “I Love Every Little Thing About You” and quietly confrontational “Black Maybe,” made with ex-husband Stevie Wonder and synthesizer pioneers Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff (aka T.O.N.T.O.'s Expanding Head Band), are also high points. The remaining songs are all noteworthy in some fashion, but the most thrilling one among them is the Sisters Love's “Give Me Your Love,” which is hotter and more dramatic than the Curtis Mayfield original and Barbara Mason's version.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman