Reissued and Revisited: Motown: The Complete #1s | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Reissued and Revisited: Motown: The Complete #1s

Jul 17, 2019 By Frank Valish Bookmark and Share

Corresponding with Motown's 60th anniversary, Motown/UMe has released a newly expanded 11-CD edition of Motown: The Complete #1s, a comprehensive collection of all 208 of Motown's #1 hit singles. Newly added to the set, which was previously released in 2008, is the 11th CD, which includes two b-sides of Motown hits, two #1s that were left off the previous release, and two Diana Ross remixes that have since reached #1 on Billboard's Dance/Club chart.

As a matter of course, it should be noted that a #1 single as defined herein is as a song that reached the top of a Billboard chart in America, a song that topped now-defunct trade magazines Cash Box or Record World, or a song that reached #1 in another country. Hence the comprehensiveness of the collection. Regardless of where or how, a #1 is a #1, and they are all here.

Listening to The Complete #1s, one is struck by the enormity of Motown's hit-making enterprise. Starting in the '60s with all the most well-known singles by talents like The Supremes, The Temptations, Martha & The Vandellas, Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, and so many others, the set then transitions into the '70s, funk and soul, and the emergence of hitmakers like The Jackson 5 and The Commodores, as well as the heyday of Stevie Wonder. The '80s saw the rise of Lionel Richie, Rick James, and DeBarge, and the '90s finds such radio staples as Boyz II Men taking Motown to the cusp of a new century. The set ends with Erykah Badu's 2000 hit "Bag Lady." Throughout The Complete #1s, discs end with songs that were made #1 by other artists (e.g., Martha & The Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street," which reached the pinnacle for Mick Jagger and David Bowie in 1985.

While the '60s was perhaps the most famous decade for Berry Gordy's Motown, what is striking in this collection is how consistent the label's output was for almost 40 years, adapting with the times and showing surprising versatility. Even included are the two #1 hits by country artist T.G. Sheppard, the product of Motown's short-lived Melodyland country imprint. The songs are presented in chronological order, so the listener can follow Motown's history in order from its beginning. The liner booklet, with introduction from Smokey Robinson, presents details on release date, when the song reached #1 and where, and the length of its stay at the top.

All in all, Motown: The Complete #1s is a remarkable and remarkably comprehensive document of one of America's greatest record labels. It deserves to be listened to from the first track on the first disc to the final cut on disc 11. It will leave you in awe.




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