Various Artists

The Magic of Motown [Motown]

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Produced in conjunction with the BBC television documentary of the same name, The Magic of Motown is yet another overview of the legendary label's golden age, and while there are dozens (if not hundreds) of similar compilations already on the market, this one deserves at least a second look if only because its British origins result in a slightly more unique and far-ranging perspective than the norm. Strongly informed by the U.K.'s long-lived Northern soul club culture, The Magic of Motown juxtaposes rare recordings alongside familiar hits, effectively valuing Frank Wilson's "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)" and Kiki Dee's "The Day Will Come Between Sunday and Monday" as highly as perennials like the Jackson 5's "ABC" and the Isley Brothers' "This Old Heart of Mine" -- and damned if the rare stuff doesn't hold its own, retaining an energy and freshness long gone from Motown's chart-topping hits. As retrospectives go, it's hardly definitive, but that's its charm: as the accepted canon loses its luster thanks to endless oldies radio exposure, the unreleased takes and deep LP cuts sound better than ever -- and therein lies the secret of the real magic of Motown.

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