It was Ace Records’ good fortune in 2009 to become the first independent record company in the world to acquire the rights to release previously unissued Motown material from the 1960s. Our tenth and latest Motown project is “Finders Keeper”, a compilation titled for the Marvelettes’ 1964 recording that first surfaced on the British Tamla Motown logo in 1980.
Women were a fundamental part of Motown’s early success: Raynoma Gordy was contributing harmonies and arranging skills before the company even got going; Janie Bradford co-wrote what became Motown’s most covered song, ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’; Mable John was Berry Gordy’s chauffeur as well as the first female artist he signed; Mary Wells was the first to take a Motown label record into the charts ... and the list goes on.
In this, Ace’s first various artists Motown CD, we focus on the company’s female acts – the well-known ones, the not-so-famous but much loved and a couple about whom we know next to nothing at all. It’s a half-and-half mixture of previously issued and unreleased titles. In the case of the reissued titles, we’ve taken the road less travelled and selected tracks which we feel haven’t had the attention they deserve down the years, amongst them very rare 45s from the Andantes and Saundra Mallett.
Collectors will particularly relish the dozen unissued tunes, which include superb offerings from Motown heroines Brenda Holloway, Martha and the Vandellas, Gladys Knight and Kim Weston and gems by the lesser-known Carolyn Crawford, Hattie Littles, LaBrenda Ben, Liz Lands and Linda Griner. We’ve even managed to dig up tracks by a couple of girls who’ve never had a track out before: Thelma Brown and Anita Knorl.
To spotlight just one track of special interest, ‘When Somebody Loves You (You’re Never Alone)’ by Gladys Knight and the Pips is so well-known to Motown fans that it’s hard to believe it’s never been released before. One of the first songs completed by the group after they signed to Motown in early 1966, it sat on the shelf for over a year before they returned to it and re-recorded their vocals in the summer of ’67. Then it was put back on the shelf where it’s been ever since – apart from numerous outings on collectors’ cassettes and CDs, sourced from an acetate that found its way into the public domain. We are delighted to be able to offer a legitimate issue of this classic mid-60s Motown track for the very first time, fully re-mastered from the original tape and sounding better than ever.
Elsewhere, the set includes some prime Motown stompers (‘Let Love Live’), torchy ballads (‘It’s Too Soon To Know’), R&B (‘My Black Belt’) and jazz (‘I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues’) – something for everyone, we hope.
By Keith Hughes and Mick Patrick