Detroit gave the world soul music through the success of Motown Records, who were scoring hits from 1959 onwards. Their latest sound would be studied and aped by hundreds of acts around the city.
Our “Birth Of Soul – Detroit Special Edition” has many Motown connections, including a previously unheard early Martha & the Vandellas track from their Del-Phis years – one of the songs was co-written by Berry Gordy’s first wife Thelma.
Influential writer, producer and early Motown artist Richard “Popcorn” Wylie features on two tracks and Funk Brother Joe Hunter co-wrote another pair. Detroit soul heroes J.J. Barnes with ‘Just One More Time’, Gino Washington’s ‘I’m Comin’ Home’ and Melvin Davis with ‘Wedding Bells’ represent the city’s evergreen stars who sang there right through the soul years.
There are unissued gems from Norman Whitfield’s group the Sonnettes, Tony Clarke, who would go on to success at Chess, and Leon Peterson. Mike Hanks and Dave Hamilton’s stables of acts are represented through James Lately, La Wanda William, Geraldine Hunt, the Penn-etts and others.
More successful was Barbara Lewis, whose glorious ‘Think A Little Sugar’ featured on the flip of her ‘Hello Stranger’ hit. Timmy Shaw’s ‘I’m A Lonely Guy’ also sold well as the flip to his hit ‘Gonna Send You Back To Georgia’. The Falcons and Volumes were big male vocal group acts in the city; the Pyramids less so. Like Melvin Davis, Betty Lavett was there at the start and performs to this day.
The Donays’ ‘Devil In His Heart’ earned international fame when the Beatles included it on their second LP. It was produced by the Correc-Tone stable that also provides brilliant early soul from Marva Josie and Laura Johnson.
The vast majority of tracks are new to CD; some are new to the world.
Compiled by Ady Croasdell. Notes by Graham Finch.