Whole Lotta Motown Goin On…
It’s Motown’s 50th anniversary and I’ll bet nobody at Berry Gordy’s shop in 1961 ever imagined that we’d be observing it like this. I really like the packaging on the 50th Anniversary: Singles Collection 1961-1971 for both the Temptations and the Supremes. Each are three cd sets in book form featuring every single each group produced, both A and B side and a bunch more. (The Complete Motown Singles series used the same format.) Each has this box set is accompanied by a booklet filled with detailed information about each single, reproductions of their picture sleeves from around the world, and rare photos. I prefer the Tempts’ grittiness to the Supremes’ prettiness (and Levi Stubs and the fabulous Four Tops to both) but these are really handsome, information-filled packages—I really love this new trend where music consumers are being treated as amateur historians, it makes for so much richer an experience-and there’s plenty of stuff in both sets that very few people will already have. More here and here.
In addition, there are some wonderful performances, but not much in the way of information on the two DVD collections, Best of the Temptations on the Ed Sullivan Show and The Best of the Supremes on the Ed Sullivan Show and both are pretty cheap, but if you’re the kind of person who wants either one of those, then you’d have to be really crazy not to want the double CD, and also pretty reasonable, Motown Gold From the Ed Sullivan Show. It includes performances by the Jackson 5, Diana Ross and The Supremes, The Temptations, Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Martha & The Vandellas and Gladys Knight & The Pips, and is the best visual collection of vintage Motown you’re likely to find anywhere and a delight from start to finish.
If you want to spend more time with music on your TV (etc.) there a new bluray of Cream’s 2005 reunion show at Royal Albert Hall and it’s beautifully shot and the sound is incredible. The music is only so-so as Cream is one of the most overrated bands in history; Clapton’s solo career has many much higher points, but the versions of “Badge” “White Room” and “Sunshine” are pretty nice and some of the other songs amost make up for Ginger Baker’s hysterical drumming. (They leave off “Tales of Brave Ulysses” for no good reason.) I’ve also been watching new Bluray shows from Bad Company, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Peter Gabriel. They all sound terrific and all are, of course, a matter of taste. Gabriel: “New Blood – Live in London” and it will please his fans without a doubt. Bad Company live at Wembley Arena in April 2010, has the three surviving original members Paul Rodgers, Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke with Howard Leese on guitars and Lynn Sorensen on bass, and a guest appearance by Jimmy Page. In the case of both this and the Emerson Lake & Palmer – 40th Anniversary Reunion Concert, it depends on how you feel about seeing these guys about thirty years older (and pauchier) than you remember them. For me, I prefer just the music and the memories of my unhappy youth, The value of these, however, is that the music sounds better than ever, because nothing recreates as well as bluray. Your call on all concerned.