When you’re as large a cultural phenomenon as Motown Records, the depth of imitation as flattery is quite vast. I’ve explored this pool of influence before. After sitting with the topic for even longer, I decided, just in time for Pop Culture Summer, it was time to look at how The Sound Of Young America breathed life far beyond Studio A on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit.
Granted, a healthy bit of what we consider knock off Motown came from Detroit itself. Sometimes that was via rival labels Golden World and Ric-Tic. Sometimes it was from disgruntled writers and producers knowing they could beat Holland-Dozier-Holland and Smokey at their game (Looking at you Mike Terry). But Coast to Coast the inspiration blossomed, from stalwarts like The Shirelles seeking a new direction, to Tony Award Winning Actress Bernadette Peters doing her early Pop-Soul confections.
Here we cut a little closer to more interpretations of Motown as stereotyped than before. The amorphous sound that lent itself to many a Supremes/Four Tops/Vandellas and/Or Temptations record between 1964 and 1966 (oft way past Motown using the sounds themselves) find new life for hopefuls seeking chart action.
So sit back, and enjoy 33 gems from art being life imitated.
2) Bernadette Peters – We’ll Start The Party Again