UNIVERSAL MUSIC ENTERPRISES/MOTOWN
MOTOWN-THE COMPLETE #1s/various: This ten disc package, that should really be a television package, rehashes the Motown legacy once more. There are no surprises here as this is a generous helping of he core of Motown, served from the top of the charts. No one can dispute the majesty of Funk Brothers or Holland-Dozier-Holland and their contributions to making Motown in a dynasty that has a legacy that will last forever but this collection reveals something different. This collection is a testimony to the multi-level genius and vision of Barry Gordy, the man behind the whole thing. Releasing records under the inclusionary tagline "the sound of young America", Gordy accomplished the impossible. He sold black music to white people but kept what he was doing black and proud enough that he was never called Tom or Oreo. You need historical context here. Inter racial dating was still illegal when Motown started. The early 60s might have been a time of optimism but they were coming hard on the heels of Emmett Till, Rosa Parks, the Woolworths lunch counter incident and the Freedom Riders. Civil rights activists were no longer willing to listen to ‘go slow' and kindling was ramping up to the long, hot summer that would last for several years. In the middle of all this, America would unite on Sunday night to see Diana Ross sing her hit about illegitimate children on Ed Sullivan. Anyone not old enough to drink today, that doesn't remember once essential things like rotary phones, can't possibly understand the real time impact of these things. But Gordy did. Even pundits that go on about how music doesn't drive the culture like it used to don't even realize this is what they are talking about. Just think, the whole purpose of the Motown Charm School was to show these kids they shouldn't sit around eating bologna sandwiches and drinking whiskey out of jelly jars like those abc ruffians over at Stax were. This massive collection of songs everybody knows show Gordy did more to advance civil rights than all the constitutional amendments put together ever could and that's the real tribute and testimony here. Looking back at this stuff from the 2010s, it's as American as apple pie. If you don't already have this stuff, this is a great way to fill in the holes in your music collection that shouldn't be so gaping. No matter how many times the music here has been sliced, diced and repackaged, this is an essential collection.
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL/original cast album: The guy that used to run the conglomerate that owns the master recordings that inspired this show now runs the conglomerate that controls the publishing rights to these songs wrote a check to be the sole backer of this runaway Broadway success. That's why he's still in the driver's seat in his 70s. On paper, it's easy to dismiss this as a variation on an Elvis tribute show and point to the "success" of "Baby, It's You" as a reason why this won't work. All that leaves out the fact that the source material here makes this a Mandingo of a show. The Elvis comparison fails here because Elvis was the star there. Because of Funk Brothers and Holland-Dozier-Holland, no matter who was out front, the music was the star here, and people are responding to the music. With one of the greatest musical blue prints/foot prints to work from, this bold, brassy show brings the music into the present while keeping it real and it's frenetic pace really gets the heart pumping, especially for boomers. Killer stuff that shows it has what it takes now and forever.
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL Originals The Classic Songs That Inspired the Broadway Show/various: A wonderful roll off collection that makes a nice souvenir for fans of the show that want to immerse themselves in the Motown experience. While the cast does a great job on the songs, these originals were great period. This set is just what it promises, a serving of the songs that inspired the show. Any boomer worth his bytes has to already have this in several configurations in his collection already, but there are those kids in gen x, gen y, etc that need copies of their own because they'll be having back yard parties of their own in due course and Elvis Costello and barbeques don't always go well together.
THE COMPLETE MOTOWN SINGLES VOL. 12A 1972/various: When this seminal, beautifully packaged, essential series got started, wonderers were wondering just when this series would end since Motown was still pretty vital and independent well into the late 80s. Well, now we know, this series will end when 1972 volume two rolls off the presses. With 5 cds capturing the singles output of the first half of 1972, this stopping point was chosen because that's when Motown pulled up stakes and headed west ending the first, glorious period of the label and it's roots. After a recession inspired hiatus of a few years, this series is now rolling full steam ahead again. Plunging once again into the label's DNA, these singles are all a treat, especially when laid end to end like this. Not all were winners in the commercial arena but the label's quality control center made sure nothing left the house half baked. Certainly another box of stuff you really can't do without.
VISAGE/Hearts and Knives: New Romantic didn't really catch on like other punk/dance stuff did, but in it's wake, we did get talk like a pirate day. Back with their first album in 29 years, if EDM can get off on Frankie Knuckles, Visage can come back too. Going for more of a synth pop thing than they did back in the day, Midge Ure might not be back in the fold but this was/is mostly Steve Strange's show anyway. Bearing the brunt of being the pioneers that influenced everyone that came in their wake and had more success stateside using the original blue print, the original vibe is here in full flower and suburban kids are probably more ready for this now than they were back in the day. And without MTVs ageism at the wheel ,everyone has a fair shot these days if they know how to bring the goods. Certainly not a dad and lad thing like Led Zep, the back story here is more for historical purposes than nostalgia reliance.
CARL HIAASEN/Bad Monkey (read by Arte Johnson): Anybody lamenting the passing of Robert Parker and Ed McBain, as well as age and divorce problems with Elmore Leonard, needs to find out about the grand work of Carl Hiaasen. Certainly not a new comer, Hiaasen is a classic novelist that just keeps getting keener and sharper each time out. As familiar with Florida and it's decay as Leonard is with Detroit and it's decay, Hiaasen comes with a new collection if skewed characters acting in out of focus ways showing what really populates the human highway when the cover is pulled back. As disparate stories of screwy people doing screwy things comes together for a flashpoint where is all comes together, without the red ribbon bow, and subversive hilarity ensues while just deserts are served. With a great ear for dialog and a sharp eye for character, Hiaasen is one newspaperman that doesn't have to concern himself with the collapse of old media as winners like this make it clear he was planning an escape well in advance. It's about time for him to assume and claim the mantle of one of the contemporary greats.
WORKAHOLICS season three: One of the most hysterically funny, subversive shows on any air space finds the slacking trio finding new ways to aim low, hit their targets and still find a way to get up the next morning and try it all over again. With situations that are almost as surreal as anything "Green Acres" could ever come up, this contemporary show of show stopping hilarity is well on it's way to TV comedy legend hood. Showing an ever sharpening wit and a long way to go before it jumps the shark, this is a collection of 20 episodes of ‘did they just do that?" madness that just doesn't quit. Since these are a bunch of humorists that really hang together, the next generation's comedy A team is on deck as features, etc await. Be sure to get on this trolley pronto.
88049 (also available on Blu Ray 8372)
RON WHITE/A Little Unprofessional: Ron White and Rolling Stones, compare and contrast. White can make continual jokes about his drinking, his sexual experiences and how you basically can't fix stupid. He does this face to signal it was the punch line. He goes out with a new show every so often that's variations on a theme. The Stones go out every few years and play "Satisfaction', "Paint It Black", "Honky Tonk Women" and the rest. The main difference? The Stones have a limited shelf for victory laps. White can basically make the rest of his career a victory lap and the crowd will keep showing up. As hysterical as ever, an hour with White is a collection of laughs that stop just long enough for you to catch your breath. Not formatting like a traditional stand up, White remains just as just folks as a guy that owns his own plane can. This stuff is an absolute gas. If you are one of the few late to this party, get your head in the game and check out all his great stuff. A winner throughout.
Volume 37/Number 230
June 19, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record
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