Ultimate Motown Rarities Collection essentially posits a kind of bizarro-world take on the sound of young America, an alternate reality where familiar favorites like "I Want You Back," "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," and "Stop! In the Name of Love" were popularized not by the Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, and the Supremes but by David Ruffin, Smokey Robinson, and Kim Weston instead. This eye-opening compilation unearths some 21 tracks from the Motown vaults, each the result of a musical assembly line that saw songs pass through any number of artists and producers before all the pieces finally fell into place. The pairing of familiar compositions and familiar artists yields most unfamiliar results, and while it's no doubt jarring to hear the Isley Brothers tackle "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" or the Supremes take on "Can I Get a Witness," it's equally difficult to understand just why some of these recordings were rejected outright, the songs themselves then moving on to the artists who made them famous. As a glimpse into the label's creative process, Ultimate Motown Rarities Collection is invaluable, but on a less academic level, it's a consistently engaging set that takes overplayed classics and gives them a new and entirely different life.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny