Tag: Motown

Album Cover of the Week: Martha and the Vandellas, Heat Wave

Album Cover of the Week: Martha and the Vandellas, Heat Wave

Album Cover of the Week, Music
Christmas is over, and we're almost into that part of winter where you think it's never going to end and you're already tired of it being dark by 5pm. So let's turn up the heat with this slice of vintage R&B -- from 1963, it's Heat Wave from Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, first released on the Gordy Records division of Motown. This is the biggest image scan I could find, although it's not of the original album. That can be identified by the Gordy label that should be on the lower left. Design-wise, Heat Wave is pretty uncomplicated but it's very appealing all the same. The white dresses (and gloves!) of the ladies strike a brilliant contrast with the flames. Design and photography credit go to Bernard Yeszin, who worked a number of other Motown album covers in the early '60...
Album Cover of the Week: Stevie Wonder, Where I’m Coming From

Album Cover of the Week: Stevie Wonder, Where I’m Coming From

Album Cover of the Week, Music
I last showcased an album cover from the great Stevie Wonder when I wrote about Innervisions in 2009. Today I want to go back to the beginning. Not of Wonder's career, but of his string of all-time classic albums in the 1970s. For today we look at Where I'm Coming From, released on Motown's Tamla label on April 12, 1971. A few things strike me right away about this cover. First is the very bold use of "WONDER" with its many pictures of Stevie. This was the first album where Wonder really was able to assert full creative control over his music, and I think this cover speaks to that. The second thing is the title -- Where I'm Coming From. It's an unmistakable declaration that this album was intended not to generate profit for Berry Gordy but to let America and the world know what w...
Why the Hell Should I Like… post-‘Thriller’ Michael Jackson?

Why the Hell Should I Like… post-‘Thriller’ Michael Jackson?

Music
“Why the hell should I like… ?” is an experiment of sorts between Popblerd and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. What we’re going to attempt to do is to pick 10 songs from our favorite artists — one for which the other has professed dislike or disinterest — and show them why they’re wrong. On June 25th, 2009, the world lost one of the greatest entertainers of all time -- Michael Jackson. Although recent history had not been kind to Michael, after his passing it seemed like a light switch went on in the collective mind of the American public and they began to view him with respect again. Because let's face it, despite his obvious issues, the man was a one-of-a-kind talent. A fantastic singer, a great dancer, a solid songwriter and producer, and, if you look over the current pop mu
My favorite music: 1972

My favorite music: 1972

Music
If there's one thing the internet lacks, it's pointless music lists. So to fill that void, here's a sampling of my favorite albums from some random year. Let's say, 1972. Fleetwood Mac, Bare Trees -- Oh sure, I love Rumours as much as the next person. But there's something about this particular, pre-Buckingham/Nicks incarnation of the band that speaks to me. Bare Trees is a bit uneven in spots but I keep coming back to it just the same. That said, the original version of Bob Welch's "Sentimental Lady" found on this record is far superior to the 1977 hit single version. Steely Dan, Can't Buy a Thrill -- I don't care if Donald Fagen and Walter Becker want to disown this record, I love it and I know a ton of Dan fans love it. Like all classic Steely Dan records, the hits are only part o...
Listening booth — Mary Wells, “Two Lovers”

Listening booth — Mary Wells, “Two Lovers”

Listening Booth, Music
Over at Popdose we're cooking up an exciting new project — a comprehensive overview of the famous Time-Life AM Gold series. Up first is the 1962 entry, which features a whopping 22 songs. One of the early standouts in our discussion seems to be "Two Lovers" by the late, great Mary Wells. It was written and produced by Smokey Robinson, who was well on his way to superstar status with Motown Records. A 17-year-old Wells signed with Berry Gordy's Motown in 1960 and had her biggest hit in 1964 with the immortal "My Guy." She scored one more Top 20 hit the same year and became the first Motown act to perform in the U.K. (opening for an obscure act called the Beatles). Label battles and health problems cut her career short, and she retired from the music business in 1974. She returned later i
GFS home movies: Michael McDonald’s This Christmas: Live in Chicago

GFS home movies: Michael McDonald’s This Christmas: Live in Chicago

Music
Having already cultivated a sizable fan base through his work with Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, as well as from his solo work, Michael McDonald has spent the better part of the last decade following two different muses - classic Motown/soul and holiday music.  In 2009 he added another entry to the latter with This Christmas, pulled from a concert featuring McDonald and his band in a holiday performance on the PBS concert series Soundstage.  It's available on CD, but it's the DVD edition I'm reviewing here. I'll just say right up front that if you are already a fan of McDonald and his trademark soulful baritone, you will not be disappointed with This Christmas.  But even if you only have a passing interest in the man and his work, it's still a good addition to any holiday music co
2010 – The year in recorded musical performances

2010 – The year in recorded musical performances

Music
I really need to find a way to turn music listening into a paying, full-time gig.  Because that's the only way I could ever hope to have time to take in all the good (and not-so-good) music that comes out every year.  Life really was much simpler when I didn't even want to make time for anything that wasn't by Kiss, Rush, or Iron Maiden.  So instead of approaching this as a "Best Albums of 2010" or "Best Music of 2010" list, it's more of a "My Favorite Albums/Music of 2010 That I Had Time to Listen To" list.  These are the albums that moved me one way or another this year, although obviously this is not (and cannot be) an exhaustive list.  I'm sure lots of really swell records got left off, but that's why there are other year-end lists on the internet, right? #10. Kanye West, My Beautiful
Michael

Michael

Music
No matter what objectionable things I think he did, no matter what objectionable things I know he did, at this moment I can only look back on Michael Jackson's half century on this planet and think of the great things he did.  I've gone through various stages of love and hate regarding Michael over the years.  But one thing I didn't consider until today was that I've never really known of a musical universe without Michael in it in some fashion. I had just turned seven when Thriller came out, and I played that album a million times.  Not long after that, maybe around 1984 or 1985, I suddenly decided that anything besides hard rock or heavy metal was garbage.  I trashed my copy of Thriller and never even gave any of his subsequent albums a shot (I had an image to uphold, you know).  But
Album Cover of the Week: Innervisions

Album Cover of the Week: Innervisions

Album Cover of the Week, Music
In a just world, last night's Grammy Awards telecast would have been dedicated largely to celebrating the 50th anniversary of Motown Records.  Instead, we got 'treated' to Stevie Wonder playing with the Jonas Brothers.  Ugh. So in an effort to remedy (in whatever small way I can) this musical travesty, I'm presenting not just one of Stevie's or Motown's greatest albums, but one of the greatest albums of any genre -- 1973's Innervisions. Innervisions was not released on the regular Motown label but rather on Tamla, the company Berry Gordy started in 1959 that morphed into Motown.  The album was a monster commercial and artistic triumph for Wonder, who picked up the first of his three Grammys for Album of the Year. As for the album art, the cover illustration is by Efram Wolff,