Friday, 29 July 2016

The Year Was 1965: A Significant Events In Motown's History Pt.4




Image result for marvin gaye
Marvin Gaye



While the main production teams were enjoying spectacular success, other producers at the label were coming up with hits such as “Ain’t That Peculiar” released on Tamla Records and performed by Marvin Gaye, produced and co-written by Smokey Robinson. The song peaked at number one week-ending 27th November 1965 (1 week) on the Billboard Hot Rhythm and Blues Singles Chart. The development of the song benefited from the expert help of several creative masterminds, including Willie Shorter who was doing the majority of the rhythm charts for Smokey Robinson and his song-writing team, working in conjunction with Robinson’s key creative partner Marv Tarplin during that period, with Paul Riser taking care of string arrangements. Tarplin’s brilliant guitar skills were vitally important to the overall success of the song.  He and Robinson collaborated on songs such as “I’ll Be Doggone” and “The Tracks Of My Tears.”

By the end of 1965 Motown Records had dominated the number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart for a total of eight weeks during the year with three different acts. Motown Records also controlled the number one position on the Billboard Hot Rhythm and Blues Singles for a total of twenty-five weeks
. 
While Marvin Gaye was enjoying great success with Smokey Robinson, he also recorded his first major duet with Kim Weston, called “It Takes Two”. The album from which the single was taken, also entitled “It Takes Two”, was co-produced by William “Mickey” Stevenson and Harvey Fuqua. The hit song was co-written by female song-writer Sylvia Moy and William “Mickey” Stevenson. The song charted the following year in May 1966 and reached number four on the Billboard Hot Rhythm and Blues Singles Chart, peaking at number fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. This was soon to be followed by his successful duets with the late Tammi Terrell, starting in 1966.

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Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The Year Was 1965: Significant Events in Motown’s History Pt. 3


Grand Gala du Disque Populaire 1968 - The Four Tops 1.jpg
The Four Tops
 performing live
The next all-black male vocal group to top the charts was The Four Tops who knocked The Supremes off the top position with their thunderous performance of the single “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch).” The track exploded with a bang when it was released by Motown Records. It peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart week-ending 19th June 1965 (2 weeks). It is one of those songs that define “The Sound Of Young America,” all within two minutes and 43 seconds! Before the group had their first number one, Holland-Dozier-Holland had produced a song entitled “Baby I Need Your Loving” which was The Four Top’s first Top Twenty single which peaked at number eleven on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. It has become another classic.



Holland-Dozier and Holland in
the studio with The Supremes

Image result for The Supremes
The Supremes
Holland-Dozier-Holland were certainly on a roll when they surprised everyone with a sixth consecutive number one for The Supremes with “I Hear a Symphony.” The song displaced The Rolling Stones single “Get Off Of My Cloud” week-ending 20th November 1965 (2 weeks). That very same week Chess Records’ “Soul Queen” Fontella Bass was at number four with “Rescue Me.” Another song was released from the album “I Hear a Symphony” entitled “My World Is Empty Without You.” It was the first single by The Supremes not to peak at number one on any singles chart listings in America. The recording style of the single was completely different from its predecessor with musical instrumentation sounding extremely gothic from a bygone era sometime in the 1500s in Europe. Earl Van Dyke’s Hammond organ sound configuration was made to sound like a liturgical pipe organ and reflected the trend towards baroque pop music during the mid-1960s. The song peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart for two weeks in February 1965 and reached number ten on the Billboard Hot Rhythm and Blues Singles Chart.





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Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Year Was 1965: Significant Events in Motown’s History Pt. 2

I

Marvin Gaye's first number one hit single
In the month of May Smokey Robinson produced his magic formula again with Marvin Gaye, as the latter stepped out of his studio drumming role and turned to singing as the label’s leading up-and-coming male vocalist. Robinson also found time to compose the song “I’ll Be Doggone” with guitarist Marv Tarplin and Pete Moore, founding members of The Miracles, whilst on tour. Marvin Gaye was an emerging genius who co-wrote his first three hit records, “Stubborn Kind of Fellow”, “Hitch Hike” and “Pride and Joy”. He was one of the first artists at Motown to do so. Gaye became brilliant at interpreting other song-writers’ material, improvising and improving on the original song and making it his own in the process. “I’ll Be Doggone” was certainly one of those songs. It topped the Billboard Hot Rhythm and Blues Singles Chart week-ending 22nd May 1965 (1 week). Each member of The Funk Brothers added their own momentum and richness to the song’s groove helping to send the song to the top! 
Supremes-wherelove.jpg
The Supremes' album  containing
 the 1965 single "Come See About Me"

The Motown organisation was by now a winning brand and a major player within the industry. In the eleven months from August 1964 to June 1965, The Supremes had five number one singles on several singles chart listings. The five consecutive number one hits were “Where Did Our Love Go”, “Baby Love”, “Come See About Me”, “Stop! In the Name of Love”, and “Back in My Arms Again” The industry was now aware of the fact that Berry Gordy Jr. had tremendous power within his hit-making teams, with the credentials for consistent success. The key leading act The Supremes were performing a musical fusion of gospel and rhythm and blues which was sophisticated, innovative and intoxicating, with a high level of musical excellence. It also helped that the women were beautiful and well-dressed as leading fashion icons of the era!  

The fourth of the hit run, the power house song “Stop! In the Name of Love”, knocked The Beatles song “Eight Days a Week” off the number one position with a big bang and started its reign week-ending 27th March 1965 (2 weeks). The Supremes became the first group in Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart history to have four chart topping singles in succession!

More-hits-supremes.jpg
The hit album featuring the number one
 singles "Stop! In the of Love"
 and "Back In My Arms Again"
The label then released another monster classic recording called “Back in My Arms Again”, which reached the number one position week-ending 29th May 1965 (1 week), once again produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland. It thus became the fifth consecutive number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart week-ending 12th June (1 week). A new record! The track vocals were laid down on the 22nd December 1964, followed by the dynamic and thunderous bass line of James Jamerson Jr. with Mike Terry’s excellent performance on saxophone and James Gittens’s ringing and driving vibes giving the song its special touch. Studio A was packed with musicians from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performing strings, located on a built-up stage up again the wall, until the company acquired more studio space.

By 1965 many experts in the industry were trying to define the sound’s musical elements but Adam White, a British former music editor of Billboard Magazine, captured the essence brilliantly: “ A bedrock bass line; an emphatic beat accentuated by tambourines performed by both Jack Ashford and James Gittens; pounding percussions, drums and piano tracks; saxophone-driven brass charts; shrill femme backup vocals in the classic call-and-response mode of gospel performances; and those swirling, riff-reinforcing strings of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Motown had finally broken down racial barriers. The musical sophistication spread around the world. When you listen to ‘Back in My Arms Again’ you do not think about the track in terms of black or white sound; the music was an international language with a powerful spiritual force that changed the atmosphere all around you.



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Friday, 29 April 2016

The Year Was 1965: Significant Events in Motown’s History Pt.1


"My Girl" was the group first  number one
on the Billboard 100 Singles Chart  in 1965.
In 1965 Motown Records had five number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. Four of those singles were produced by Holland-Dozer and Holland. The Temptations’ “My Girl” on the Gordy label1965 would become another successful year for Motown with the Temptations’ “My Girl” starting the year in style almost a year after Mary Well’s “My Guy” had reached number one. The song “My Girl” was produced by Smokey Robinson and co-written by his long-term song writing partner Ronald White. The song features the powerful vocals of the late David Ruffin on lead. It went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart week-ending 6th March 1965 (1 week). The classic hit track also went to number one on the re-activated Hot Rhythm and Blues Singles Chart week-ending 6th January 1965 (6 weeks). The single also achieved the number two position on the UK Official Pop Singles Chart in 1965.
A live performance of
Jr. Walker and  the All Stars in concert.


Jr. Walker and the All Stars had the first number one of their career called "Shotgun" immediately after dethroning the Temptations on the Billboard Hot Rhythm and Blues Singles Chart week-ending 11th March 1965 (4 weeks). This was first time that Lawrence Horn received credit for his involvement in producing an act on the label. Berry Gordy Jr. co-produced the track. The session musicians on the track were James Jamerson Jr. on bass, with two guitarists Joe Messina and Eddie Willis, and finally Benny Benjamin on drums gave the track that special touch that sent it to the top of the charts.

In the month of May Smokey Robinson produced his magic formula again with Marvin Gaye, as the latter stepped out of his studio drumming role and turned to singing as the label’s leading up-and-coming male vocalist. Robinson also found time to compose the song “I’ll Be Doggone” with guitarist Marv Tarplin and Pete Moore, founding members of The Miracles, whilst on tour. Marvin Gaye was an emerging genius who co-wrote his first three hit records, “Stubborn Kind of Fellow”, “Hitch Hike” and “Pride and Joy”. He was one of the first artists at Motown to do so. Gaye became brilliant at interpreting other song-writers’ material, improvising and improving on the original song and making it his own in the process. “I’ll Be Doggone” was certainly one of those songs. It topped the Billboard Hot Rhythm and Blues Singles Chart week-ending 22nd May 1965 (1 week). Each member of The Funk Brothers added their own momentum and richness to the song’s groove helping to send the song to the top! 



                                   ©Signaturesoundsonline2013-2016 

Friday, 4 March 2016

The Year Was 1968: Significant Events in Motown’s History




Image result for Tammi Terrell,
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
were Motown Record's 
most successful duo.
1968 was the year that Marvin Gaye cracked the winning formula with Tammi Terrell, with the creative assistance of Ashford and Simpson, who became both their song writers and music producers for their next two number one singles on the Billboard Hot Rhythm and Blues Singles Chart, starting with the single released on March 28th 1968 “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” which achieved the number one position week-ending 8th June 1968 (1 week) and also peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. The next number one song followed in late summer with “You’re All I Need to Get By”, at the top week-ending 31st August 1968 (5 weeks). These two songs performed extremely well in the UK and in other European music markets, selling hundreds of thousands of copies across Europe. Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell became the most successful duo in the history of the label during this period.

Image result for ashford and simpson
Ashford and Simpson.
The song writing and
 music production team behind
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell success.
The performances of Gaye and Terrell were of top quality, delivered with class and sophistication. Their voices flowed smoothly like milk and honey, graced with beauty and poetic yet filled with sexual passion from start to finish, unmatched by anyone at the time. They became a trade-mark brand for Motown and were certainly perfect for each other in terms of the blend of voices and harmonisation, making the most of the beautiful melodies developed by Ashford and Simpson. 

The original roots and feelings of the majority of these songs written by Ashford and Simpson were developed by Valerie Simpson playing the piano, as they worked chord structures for each song. Each track was underpinned by soulful, gospel-tinged musical themes, which were strongly influenced by the composers’ experiences back in the city of New York, where they performed in the Baptist church choir. This experience impacted their musical intelligence and approach to composing and producing songs and helped them create brilliant songs, with the skilful support of The Funk Brothers under the leadership of Earl Van Dyke. 



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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The Year Was 1963: Significant Events in Motown’s History




Mary Wells Two Lovers.jpg
The number one single "Two Lovers"
taken from album. 
1963 became a phenomenal year for Motown, with three recording acts topping the Billboard Hot R&B Side Singles Chart. The first artist to have achieved such a fate was the late Mary Well with her first number of career produced and written by Smokey Robinson. The single “Two Lovers” peaked at number one week-ending 19th January 1963 (4 weeks).
The12yearoldgenius.JPG
The single "Fingertips"
from the number
one album.

This was followed by the then newly signed Little Stevie Wonder with the single entitled “Fingertips (Part 2)” which topped  the singles charts on two Billboard listing: Billboard Hot R&B Side Singles Chart week-ending 3rd August 1963 (6 weeks); Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart week-ending 10th August 1963 (3 weeks). Also the single achieved similar success on the Cash Box Pop Singles Chart survey week-ending 3rd August 1963 (4 weeks). It was the first live single in Billboard history to go to number one. The parent album “The 12 Year Old Genius” became the first live album according to Billboard to peak at number one on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart week-ending 24th August 1963 (1 week). The entire album was produced by the legendary Berry Gordy, Jr.
The group's signature song
 "Heat Wave" produced by
Holland-Dozier-Holland.
The following month on the 14th September 1963, The Martha Reeves &; the Vandellas stayed at number one on the Billboard Hot R&B Side Singles Chart for 4 weeks with their single “Heat Wave” produced by Motown main song writing and music produced team Holland-Dozier-Holland premier hit making team at the label.


The label dominated the number one position that year for total of 14 weeks on the Billboard Hot R&B Side Singles Chart.  All these brilliant tracks and albums released and recorded were underscored by The Funk Brothers with vocal support from The Andantes other members of Motown family.



                                      
                                               
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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Significant Achievements in the Detroit Sound Pt.5



Classic 5 Temptations circa 1965.jpg
The original Temptations
Both Norman Whitfield and Smokey Robinson helped The Temptations became one of most popular vocal groups of the 20th Century. The group has received over thirty RIAA certifications, including a multi-platinum certification for their 1996 release “The Temptations Greatest Hits.” 

Two more albums during the mid-1990s received platinum certification for the group, “All The Million-Sellers” and “The Temptations Give Love At Christmas.” They also collected platinum certifications for their singles “I Can’t Get Next To You”, recorded during the late 1960s and produced by Norman Whitfield, and “My Girl”, also recorded during the early 1960s and written and produced by Smokey Robinson. Both singles sold over two million copies each. According to the RIAA, The Temptations are now the second most certified group behind the Beatles. The Beatles have twenty four gold singles while the Temptations have sixteen gold singles to their credit. All The Temptations records features dynamic studio performance of The Funk Brothers and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra strings section and vocal support of The Andantes.

                                             ©Signaturesoundsonline2013-2016

About Me

My photo
Old Harlow, Essex, United Kingdom
Kevin Tomlin has over 34 years of teaching experience in Jamaica, England and America, including 15 years teaching music history of black origin and visual art in South Florida, U.S.A., through Arts in Education. Tomlin created special training programmes and workshops for music teachers in South Florida schools, using music history as the foundation, to build exciting programmes of study and support materials for education professionals. Since 2000, he’s taught music history, geography, religious education, history, visual arts and performing arts at schools in Hertfordshire and Essex, at both primary and secondary levels. He conducts research and provides consultancy services for multi-media organisations, schools, recording artists, cultural and faith-based groups and entertainment professionals.

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