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MOTOWN RAIDS THE VAULTS FOR 1969 TREASURES

Motown/UMe today has posted its 15th edition of its MOTOWN UNRELEASED series, this one dedicated to 1969. It may be the most interesting collection to date.

While the stars are familiar—Diana Ross & the Supremes, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, etc.—the tone of many of these tracks from1969 is bolder, funkier and more socially aware than previous years.  As the new Hitsville: The Making of Motown doc on Showtime explores, it was a time when Berry Gordy was cautiously stepping into music that hit social issues, the Vietnam War and black pride. Check out The Originals’ “Blame It On War,” Gladys Knight & the Pips’ “I Had a Dream (Opus 1),” Terry Johnson’s “Tomorrow’s Child,” The Temptations’ “Pretty Little Brown Skin Girl” and Kiki Dee’s “While They Watch” to get a sense of where Gordy’s artists were heading.  

“Motown is clearly evolving at this time,” said Harry Weinger, Vice President of A&R at Universal Music Enterprises, who oversaw the project. “There’s an opening for writers and producers to experiment with the Motown sound but, for certain topics, or musical ideas, or even artists, the company isn’t ready. Or, it’s a simple case of having only so many slots for releases. So, until now, those songs went unreleased.”

 

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