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  1. #1

    Why is Motown so big in the UK?

    With an acknowledgement to mistercarter2u who asked this question on another thread, I hope that it is acceptable to give an answer by beginning a new thread.

    I don’t know if there is a definitive answer, so I can only offer my personal thoughts. I feel lucky and privileged to have grown up during the sixties which were my formative musical years, and perhaps that is why those memories have stayed with me as they are far clearer and stronger than those from later years.

    Musical styles seem to have changed every few years, the Americans had the “British Invasion”, but we also had invasions of American music, which led me to spend my hard-earned pocket money on “Baby Love” on the Stateside label. This was followed later by listening to pirate radio stations, broadcast from ships off the coast just a few miles from where I lived. This was a time of change in so many different ways. The sound of Motown was different, a change from the three guitars and a drum kit sound. For me, it sounded fresh and exciting, and perhaps even exotic compared to what we had grown used to.

    On Sunday afternoons one of the pirate stations would play the US Top 50, giving us a chance to hear what was happening in the States. I’ve always remembered the superb series of hits by the Four Tops around the mid-sixties, including my favourite “Bernadette”. Even now, over 50 years later, that track still sends shivers down my spine. I always thought that there was so much more emotion put into this music, raising it above the rest.

    Those experiences and memories have stayed with me throughout my life, and at long last I can say that “Baby Love” is far from the only example of Motown in my collection.

    Just my humble opinion…

  2. #2
    And the Motown sounds that the UK went for weren’t always the same as in the USA.

    We failed to significantly chart a number of massive US smashes, but charted obscure Jimmy Ruffin, The Isley Brothers and Martha Reeves And The Vandellas B-sides.

    This says something about the sheer quality of Motown’s output. Something for every demographic?

  3. #3
    It probably also has to do with the popularity of Northern soul (a music and dance movement that emerged in Northern England in the late 1960s from the British mod scene, based on a particular style of black American soul music, especially from the mid-1960s, with a heavy beat and fast tempo (100 bpm and above).

  4. #4
    In some cases the Northern Soul crowd latched on to the likes of R Dean Taylor's 'There a Ghost in my House' which years later then crossed over to mainstream and became a huge hit. However the same cannot be said for NS anthem 'I'll Keep Holding On' by the Marvelettes! Jimmy Ruffin's UK success had nothing to do with NS. The Four Tops were bigger in the UK from 'Loving You is Sweeter than Ever' but the Temptations were minor league by comparison. Martha had very little success and the Marvelettes & Mary only had one hit! Up until 'You Can't Hurry Love' the Supremes were very hit and miss! I don't think that Motown was bigger in the UK back in the day at all but I do believe that the UK holds classic Motown in higher regard than the US. That's the difference as I see it.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by copley View Post
    In some cases the Northern Soul crowd latched on to the likes of R Dean Taylor's 'There a Ghost in my House' which years later then crossed over to mainstream and became a huge hit. However the same cannot be said for NS anthem 'I'll Keep Holding On' by the Marvelettes! Jimmy Ruffin's UK success had nothing to do with NS. The Four Tops were bigger in the UK from 'Loving You is Sweeter than Ever' but the Temptations were minor league by comparison. Martha had very little success and the Marvelettes & Mary only had one hit! Up until 'You Can't Hurry Love' the Supremes were very hit and miss! I don't think that Motown was bigger in the UK back in the day at all but I do believe that the UK holds classic Motown in higher regard than the US. That's the difference as I see it.
    What you describe was probably the case until late 1968. Hence British Motown Chartbusters Volume 2, released in autumn 1968, had barely any real hits on it.

    Volume 3, released a year later, however, was crammed with hits, starting with Marvin's version of "Grapevine" and wrapping up with the reissued "Tracks Of My Tears" by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles.

    Volume 4 from autumn 1970 was also full of hits, and Motown UK was so successful that they issued two volumes of Chartbusters in 1971. Volume 7 in 1972 also had a load of hits on it.

    It was only with Volume 8 in 1973 that things started to slip.

  6. #6
    Main Motown's artists number of top 10 hits. First number pertains to the UK, second is US. Includes only solo Motown recordings.

    Four Tops 9 5

    Supremes (60’s) 7 17

    Supremes (70’s) 5 2

    Martha 1 6

    Gladys 0 3

    Temptations 4 14

    Stevie 16 26

    Marvin 4 13

    Commodores 5 10

    Lionel 8 12

    Diana 10 7

    As you will see the Four Tops were the most successful Motown group with 9 top 10 singles. The Supremes (60's) only had 7 compared to 17 in the US. Stevie was the most successful male artist leaving Marvin way behind. It's a misperception that Motown was bigger in the UK as chart statistics show that it was not.

    Over the years it appears that the UK's love and appreciation of classic Motown has grown whilst in the US it's waned. Demand for and sales of Motown product is still buoyant. A recent Motown compilation made the top 5 of the UK compilation chart. The last Brenda Holloway release sold exceptionally well. The NS scene helps to keep the Motown fire burning and groups like this and Motown Treasures all add to the mix. Long live Motown!

  7. #7
    Well the U.S. has Motown 60 coming up on national television which is pretty remarkable!

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by copley View Post
    Main Motown's artists number of top 10 hits. First number pertains to the UK, second is US. Includes only solo Motown recordings.

    Four Tops 9 5

    Supremes (60’s) 7 17

    Supremes (70’s) 5 2

    Martha 1 6

    Gladys 0 3

    Temptations 4 14

    Stevie 16 26

    Marvin 4 13

    Commodores 5 10

    Lionel 8 12

    Diana 10 7

    As you will see the Four Tops were the most successful Motown group with 9 top 10 singles. The Supremes (60's) only had 7 compared to 17 in the US. Stevie was the most successful male artist leaving Marvin way behind. It's a misperception that Motown was bigger in the UK as chart statistics show that it was not.

    Over the years it appears that the UK's love and appreciation of classic Motown has grown whilst in the US it's waned. Demand for and sales of Motown product is still buoyant. A recent Motown compilation made the top 5 of the UK compilation chart. The last Brenda Holloway release sold exceptionally well. The NS scene helps to keep the Motown fire burning and groups like this and Motown Treasures all add to the mix. Long live Motown!
    Big, not bigger.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by jack020 View Post
    It probably also has to do with the popularity of Northern soul (a music and dance movement that emerged in Northern England in the late 1960s from the British mod scene, based on a particular style of black American soul music, especially from the mid-1960s, with a heavy beat and fast tempo (100 bpm and above).
    Thank you jack020, that's something I hadn't considered. Being a "southerner", Northern Soul swept past me without me even noticing! According to Wikipedia, this began in the mid-60s, by that time, Motown had had about 15 chart entries up to the end of 1965.

    During the latter part of the 60s, my ears were more tuned to US pyschedelia and other than liking the music coming from Motown, I didn't pay that much attention to why it was so consistently good and continually entering the charts. I suppose that I had imagined that it just continued to grow based on more people becoming exposed to it, but perhaps, as you point out, the Northern Soul scene could have either provided a boost or perpetuated its popularity into the late-60s, and the decades that followed.

    Yesterday I was pondering what it was that I particularly liked about the music, and came to a conclusion that maybe it had something to do with me being tuned into a certain vibration or frequency - or as you helpfully put it, bpm!

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Sotosound View Post
    And the Motown sounds that the UK went for weren’t always the same as in the USA.

    We failed to significantly chart a number of massive US smashes, but charted obscure Jimmy Ruffin, The Isley Brothers and Martha Reeves And The Vandellas B-sides.

    This says something about the sheer quality of Motown’s output. Something for every demographic?
    I totally agree with you Sotosound, it wasn't just the sheer quality, but also the immense quantity that was being recorded, if not actually released at the time. It is only in the last few years that I have built up my collection of Motown recordings and realised how much was buried in the vaults which could just as easily have been substituted for those that were released.

    So the question then arises as to how or why this happened? Was it us, as the general public, deciding that we liked a different style to that in America? Or was it the powers behind the scene knowing more about our tastes than we did ourselves and placing an emphasis on releasing and promoting lesser known tracks?

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by copley View Post
    In some cases the Northern Soul crowd latched on to the likes of R Dean Taylor's 'There a Ghost in my House' which years later then crossed over to mainstream and became a huge hit. However the same cannot be said for NS anthem 'I'll Keep Holding On' by the Marvelettes! Jimmy Ruffin's UK success had nothing to do with NS. The Four Tops were bigger in the UK from 'Loving You is Sweeter than Ever' but the Temptations were minor league by comparison. Martha had very little success and the Marvelettes & Mary only had one hit! Up until 'You Can't Hurry Love' the Supremes were very hit and miss! I don't think that Motown was bigger in the UK back in the day at all but I do believe that the UK holds classic Motown in higher regard than the US. That's the difference as I see it.
    Originally I thought that there may have been a simple explanation to this query, although everyone would probably have a different solution! Now I feel that it is not that simple. the similarity between the US and the UK is that both have record-buying public. At the time (i.e. the 60s in particular) maybe there was a difference in tastes between us, as demonstrated in the statistics you kindly provided in a subsequent post. Maybe there is a question as to whether this occurred through natural choice or through promotion/advertising I'm not sure.

    In hindsight, I now feel that the words used in the original query could be modified in line with your thoughts that the love affair with Motown has lasted longer in the UK than in the US.

    Yesterday I was working my way through the Four Tops "50th Anniversary: The Singles Collection" and I came across this comment by Keith Hughes (in relation to Simple Game) - "...but its lack of stateside success demonstrated the widening gulf between British and American Motown tastes."

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by reachoutuk View Post
    I totally agree with you Sotosound, it wasn't just the sheer quality, but also the immense quantity that was being recorded, if not actually released at the time. It is only in the last few years that I have built up my collection of Motown recordings and realised how much was buried in the vaults which could just as easily have been substituted for those that were released.

    So the question then arises as to how or why this happened? Was it us, as the general public, deciding that we liked a different style to that in America? Or was it the powers behind the scene knowing more about our tastes than we did ourselves and placing an emphasis on releasing and promoting lesser known tracks?
    My impression is that the UK Motown office knew what it was doing and I suspect that, additionally for some reason, it became easier to secure airplay for Motown singles from late 1968 onwards.

    By 1970 Motown UK occasionally even led the USA with, for instance, “Tears Of A Clown”.

    Strangely or, perhaps even, understandably, the A-sides for some of the tracks wherein the UK charted the B-sides didn’t hit in the USA. So the only sales for either side were garnered in the UK.

  13. #13
    Most of the British Invasion artists, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, Animals, on and on...were heavily influenced by Motown, and individually admitted as much. It was a sound that heavily resonated in the UK...initially known as the "Tamla" sound...It's really that simple...

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    Most of the British Invasion artists, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, Animals, on and on...were heavily influenced by Motown, and individually admitted as much. It was a sound that heavily resonated in the UK...initially known as the "Tamla" sound...It's really that simple...
    I'd forgotten that!

    These days it's Motown but back then it was Tamla.

    Geez, that was a long time ago, but it seems like yesterday. Cue Freda Payne......

  15. #15
    The question was "Why Was Motown So Big In The UK?"

    Way back in 1964 /1965, truthfully the only music you heard on the radio was white pop and to my ears, bland music. Indeed, I remember wondering why anybody would spend their hard earned cash on records. Not only was the white music bland, so were the performances. They were all very polite and restrained. I listened to an offshore radio called Radio Luxembourg. This was to me, living a long way from London, the only exposure I had to innovative ( black) music. BBC did not play black music. This was not a BBC bias alone, it was because the new soul movement was not recognised, understood nor given airplay.
    When I heard those new sounds by Motown, Stax and Chess, they were electrifying, yet beautiful. The vocals were unrestrained and sincere, the accompaniments creative, sometimes lots of strings and sweetenings, the underlying bass and drums providing a rich backdrop, and most importantly of all the sounds and lyrics really touched your emotions.

    The initial following for Motown was tiny, but we felt the company was special and we in turn felt special in supporting them. We had the mindset of trainspotters! We got to know the composers, the producers, the coloured labels as well as the artists...at a distance.... for they all had a mystique. We didn't even know what the artists looked like...maybe we might get to see a monochrome picture in the specialist Blues and Soul magazine. When we bought records like "This Old Heart Of Mine" for the A-side, we discovered to our delight that B-Sides were equally rewarding..."There's No Love Left". We also recognised the consistency and the promise of Motown records, we could even buy records blind, unheard, and be guaranteed that we would be hearing captivating, thrilling sounds. I never bought into the notion that Motown all sounded the same, that it was a factory line. How could I compare the harmonies of " We Got a Way Out Love' by The Originals with "L.O.V.E. Love " by Jimmy Ruffin, "The Further You Look The Less You See" by The Temptations or "Forever" by Marvin Gaye. They were all so different, yet all so wonderfully classy and heartfelt.

    Clusters of like minded people started to follow and support Motown, then the Mod movement really got behind soul music. Discos, clubs etc started to play Motown and Northern Soul was born. And whilst a lot of Northern Soul favourites were popular on the dance floor, and only on the dance floor, Motown migrated into mainstream and commercial success, hence the tours by Motown artists. Motown was heavily promoted by BBC DJ's like Tony Blackburn and moved onto the national stage, supported by the efforts of UK artists like Dusty Springfield and The Beatles. The Supremes, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Junior Walker etc, were not only recognised as exciting artists, they were also recognised as being exceedingly physically attractive, fashionable and engaging artists at the top of their game. And the more we learnt about these artists, the musicians, The Funk Brothers, their composers, producers etc, the more captivating they became. Motown became in our eyes the fountain of musical excellence, of innovation, sincerity, positivity, civil rights advancement, and the foremost organisation promoting black excellence and artistry. And that has endured over the years. In a nutshell, Motown offered a rich, intelligent, energetic and authentic contrast to the bland, insipid and weak sounds we were being offered by our fellow citizens in our own country. I have loved Motown my whole life and it has brought me immense pleasure and joy.
    Last edited by MIKEW-UK; 04-17-2019 at 05:14 PM.

  16. #16
    Before the Beatles set off the British Invasion...The Shadows, led by Cliff Richard were the hottest pop music entry out of England... They topped the UK charts for some time. The invasion was heavily Motown influenced, and the fact that so many Motown songs were covered by the invasion artists tells much of the story. Ironically, Cliff went on to a pretty successful solo career, sans The Shadows...I'd also say...without The Beatles, we'd still recognize The Shadows as the most successful band out of the UK and the "invasion" as we know it would never have happened, changing culture forever...

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    Most of the British Invasion artists, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, Animals, on and on...were heavily influenced by Motown, and individually admitted as much. It was a sound that heavily resonated in the UK...initially known as the "Tamla" sound...It's really that simple...
    I found of the Motown artists they covered, Marvin was getting most of the covers in those early years at the time... least that's how I'm looking at it from a biased angle. Motown was more than UK chart success. It definitely played a huge impact on the UK rockers.

  18. #18
    Whilst The Shadows were big in the UK both with without Cliff Richard, their success was primarily tied to the UK and Europe. I would say groups such as Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and The Moody Blues were much, much bigger globally. ( Here's a quirky fact: Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and the Shadows shared the same manager. Hank Marvin, lead guitar of The Shadows, continues to release an album every year or so).

    As for the majority of bands launched in the UK and spearheading the so called invasion, they were primarily influenced by pure blues / delta blues artists and rhythms and blues artists. For example, the early discographies of The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds (including Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page), and The Animals are full of copies of music written by Afro-American blues / rhythm and blues artists. Bo Diddley, Arthur Alexander, Johnny Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon, Jimmy Reed, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters are heavily represented and whilst The Rolling Stones did release a very few copies of Motown songs, The Beatles and Dusty where responsible not only for recording some Motown tunes but, much more significantly, heavily promoting awareness and acceptance of Motown.

    Ultimately, it was the sophistication of Motown's lyrics, melodies, arrangements, musicianship, studio technology and creativity which set the sound apart from the sparser British music of the time. Motown had that signature sound where all the above elements were fused together and that is why Motown endures in the UK.
    Last edited by MIKEW-UK; 04-18-2019 at 11:52 AM.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by MIKEW-UK View Post
    The question was "Why Was Motown So Big In The UK?"

    Way back in 1964 /1965, truthfully the only music you heard on the radio was white pop and to my ears, bland music. ... I listened to an offshore radio called Radio Luxembourg. This was to me, living a long way from London, the only exposure I had to innovative ( black) music. ..... I have loved Motown my whole life and it has brought me immense pleasure and joy.
    I had a similar experience with Radio Luxenberg. I was in Germany in 1964/65. I listened to AFN (Armed Forces Radio Network) Their music was also kind of bland for a young guy's taste. Thankfully, I was able to listen to Radio Luxemburg, where I got to hear the latest Motown and soul releases. Thankfully, the jukeboxes on our post had lots of Motown stuff.

  20. #20
    I too used to listen to Radio Luxembourg, and have been to Luxembourg many times over the years. I remember when 'The Motown Story' was released, and they were a number of these given as prizes, if listeners wrote down every track that the station played on one particular night (every track was Motown). I cant' remember what time the station opened up - but I seem to think it was about 8pm, and closed down about 2am - but I'm happy if you'll correct this.

    When I was older, I listened to AFN, although my work colleagues hated it - as they didn't understand English. Every morning they demanded it be turned off. I loved listening to the American Top 40, by Casey Casem. My local record stores didn't stock the US Top 40, but I did learn about other acts, such as Change, Luther Vandross, Evelyn King, Grace Jones, as these were played in clubs. Strangely, those very same clubs became twice the size (extra rooms were opened up) at the weekends, when US service people flooded into the city. Such happy memories of life in Stuttgart.

  21. #21
    Yes Mike...I never even HEARD of the Shadows here in the U.S. in their heyday, and I was pretty heavily involved in music....mostly Jazz, U.S. Pop, and R&B as a yongster. My interest in British musical artists, pre-invasion was pretty much limited to Anthony Newley and Matt Monro...Both quite talented BTW
    Last edited by StuBass1; 04-19-2019 at 03:06 PM.

  22. #22
    I think another factor in the early adoption of Tamla Motown in the UK was the cultural aspect. The fact that it was almost overwhelmingly black people making the music and running the company was very appealing to young people. What we saw were highly attractive talented people making music and with rivetting stagecraft far superior to the usual homegrown stuff. The imagery was as distinctive and important as the music. Not only did we embrace the music, we loved the fabulous choreography, and wanted to look like the artists we admired (even though we were primarily white!!!) Tightly cut mohair suits were the rage, we wanted to look as Edwin described in Agent Double O Soul and tried in vain to master the steps and harmonise.....honest!

    And when February 1969 came around, how we so much wanted to be the winner of the Motown Mini!!!!!

    https://classic.motown.com/story/story-behind-image-2/

    On another note, in the UK, disc jockey Tony Blackburn of pirate radio, subsequently BBC, was the single most important enthusiast and promoter of soul in general and Tamla Motown in particular. He deserves huge credit and recognition for leading the airplay of Tamla on pirate radio when it was never played on the BBC, and immediately heavily featured it when he subsequently moved to the BBC. Furthermore he has, as we say, kept the faith and continues to play Motown and soul several hours a week on his four radio shows, at the age of 78, as youthful as ever!!!

  23. #23
    Just to add, Tony Blackburn also tours with his 'Sounds Of The Sixties' show.

    He is currently playing in medium sized theatres to sell-out audiences, often with added dates, due to demand.

    His shows heavily feature TM songs. Of course.
    Last edited by westgrandboulevard; 04-20-2019 at 05:33 AM.

  24. #24
    This includes a massive generalisation, but a lot depends on your background , culture, education, lifestyle.
    My teenage years were associated with club and discotheque attendance. My group of friends would have, in the main, been similar.
    If you went into higher education (6th form, college, University) you gravitated towards rock music.(soul music was laughed at).
    You didn't attend clubs as such.
    So soul music generally took hold in 'blue collar' environments.
    The Northern Soul (Mods early days) would draw MOST of their following from this area.
    So Motown was popular...to a certain crowd of teenagers and young people. NOT all UK at all.
    As I say a generalisation but a rule of thumb.

  25. #25
    snakepit, I'd agree with your rule of thumb. Living in the West country at the time, I was very much in the minority and had to order each record as TM wasn't generally stocked. When I moved to the midlands, it opened up a whole new world.

    An example of the enduring appeal of Motown, half a century later. I did a transatlantic cruise on a Royal Caribbean massive vessel a couple of years ago, populated mainly by Brits of a certain vintage. Of all things, they had a Motown Records quiz in a large venue which to my amazement was a full house!

    Four second intros of Motown records were played and you had to write down two answers, the performer and the accurate title. Some of the records were not the usual stuff, and included records such as Leaving Here by Eddie Holland. You'll forgive me stating that I won with 59 out of 60. They were kind enough to give me all six prizes LOL!
    Last edited by MIKEW-UK; 04-20-2019 at 08:26 AM.

  26. #26
    My original hometown from my youth is on the central southern coast of UK.

    A ferry route to the Isle Of Wight, and a place which I would describe as a country town, found on the coast.

    In the 1960s, there were few if any clubs in that area. I would have needed to have gone to a city or large town about 35 miles round trip in either direction, and still would not have heard any TM records. Had I lived in London, or one of the big cities like Liverpool and Manchester, the chances of doing so would have been increased.

    My introduction to Tamla Motown music was initially through the music press each week, and via Radio Luxembourg, albeit with an infuriatingly bad reception at times, and some programmes of dubious entertainment value!

    Pat Campbell (?) would play the best selling American 45's of the week. I was aware of Motown acts, but I particularly remember hearing Doris Troy's 'Just One Look' in the Top 10, and being mesmerised by that piano led intro and moody vocal. Even the name conjured up a powerful image. It all just spoke to me.

    The Hollies had a big hit here with their cover version, very narrowly missing the top spot. While I didn't like it anywhere near as much, I could well understand why people would go out and buy it.

    I started making a mental note of all the UK cover versions of American records, either being played as new releases on Radio Luxembourg, and also on BBC radio, if they sold well enough to make the top end of the charts. I would match the titles with those listed on the American charts, which then gave me insight into the original versions, and want to know more about the artists.

    The music papers then began drawing readers' attention to the original American versions which, by comparing the currently known versions to the originals, then created a curiosity, a demand. An excitement, in anticipation of the next records by these artists, which began to show on the American Top 50 (I don't think we saw Top 100 charts here?).

    In that respect, although the original Tamla Motown and other R&B/soul records did not sell as well in the UK (at least, on first release), the fact of them being covered by white British artists did give indirect awareness of their existence, and so an exposure to the general, predominantly white UK record buying public.

    Along came 'Ready, Steady, Go!' (televised on Friday evening in the London area, I believe - but on Sunday afternoons in my southern region), and we then actually got to see these original artists, performing to their records. Miming, as we called it then!

    Those 'name' acts which would read so well in the music magazines (Supremes, Vandellas, Marvelettes, Velvelettes, Tops, Temptations, Miracles), and with records which sounded so good on radio, would then both look and sound good on our TV screens at home. A double knockout.

    I only had to hear the intro of a Motown record on the transistor radio, or hear a record introduced, to have a shot of adrenaline race through me, and leap for the volume switch. To this day, if it doesn't have that Hitsville Snakepit sound, then to me it isn't quite 'Motown', despite what the label may say.

    The same effect would happen to me when the acts would appear on the TV screen. They all seemed so impossibly glamorous, assured, polished and mature. The welcoming presence of these entertainers, with their wide smiles, expansive gestures and heartfelt songs, seemed to give young people, growing perhaps with some uncertainty from childhood into maturity, something to which they could relate, and in which they could believe. It's as if we all belonged together in spirit.

    There was the strong element of gospel to the music (far more 'get happy' than the more staid religious education which was my own experience), together with the publicised 'family' nature of the Motown acts, which increased the attraction.

    The fact that these artists were in fact black, and therefore 'different', further enhanced their appeal, not simply because they were different, but different as in 'great', and not different as in 'bad', and so were to be completely and wholeheartedly admired.

    The 'ghost tour' of the country in 1965, when the TM label was launched and nationally publicised the product, may not have been a commercial success, but I still think it was, in broader terms, about the right timing for it. Just a pity that it was not possible to have broadcast the 'RSG!' special with Dusty before the tour commenced.

    Tamla Motown music was initially a very slow burn success in the UK, more in appreciation than in commercial terms, but the love of it continues, having endured now for nearly 60 years.
    Last edited by westgrandboulevard; 04-20-2019 at 03:51 PM.

  27. #27
    Westgrand, you summed it up beautifully.
    Even recalls the infuriating swelling then fading of the distorted signal reception of Radio Luxembourg, usually in the midst of that special new record, prompting urgent twiddling of the tuning knob on the AEG Telefunken 'wireless set'. All too often too late to know who the name of the record and who it was by. Without the internet to resort to, what a trial trying to figure out what that record was!!!!!! So frustrating.

  28. #28
    I agree. Westgrand summed it up perfectly!

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by snakepit View Post
    This includes a massive generalisation, but a lot depends on your background , culture, education, lifestyle.
    My teenage years were associated with club and discotheque attendance. My group of friends would have, in the main, been similar.
    If you went into higher education (6th form, college, University) you gravitated towards rock music.(soul music was laughed at).
    You didn't attend clubs as such.
    So soul music generally took hold in 'blue collar' environments.
    The Northern Soul (Mods early days) would draw MOST of their following from this area.
    So Motown was popular...to a certain crowd of teenagers and young people. NOT all UK at all.
    As I say a generalisation but a rule of thumb.
    I found that at Lancaster University, in the north west of England, in 1973-6 soul wasn’t accepted except “Nutbush City Limits”, but, before that, it was widely accepted at my very middle class grammar school in North London. So there were possibly different differences all over.

    I had one school friend who openly dug Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, but who privately dug Motown.

    Wind the clock forward to 1978, and university students in London were digging “Galaxy” by War. So times change.

    I suspect that Motown’s many fans were simply those who liked it, irrespective of social or geographical considerations. From my perspective, it’s appeal was that wide.

    Admitting that one liked Motown might, however, have been a different matter!

  30. #30
    Asking why is Motown popular in the UK is probably like asking why is Ice Hockey popular in the US.
    A lot of people will follow the sport devotedly... But an awful lot probably couldn't care less.

  31. #31
    Thank you, MikeW-UK and Midnightman, for your kind words.

    While it crosses my mind (because one recollection does tend to lead to another), I have sometimes wondered if the distinctive 'brand new beat' signature sound of earlier 60's Motown records (with pronounced drum beat and percussion, underscored by heavy bass), actually baffled many listeners here in the UK.

    While their ears and hearts were moved by the joyous tones and message of Motown records, their feet and bodies couldn't respond as spontaneously, because they had never been accustomed to doing so.

    Here in the UK, I suspect that if anyone had, for example, played 'My Guy' to a 1960s audience, and asked them to mark time to the band track, they would have responded by clapping their hands to match the lyrics shown in bold type:

    "Nothing you can say can turn me away from my guy".

    I instinctively went for the drum beat :

    "Nothing you can say can turn me away from my guy".

    To me, it just felt far more 'upbeat' and positive. It matched the rhythm of the record, and drove the lyrics forward.

    To me, it strongly contributed to 'the Motown Sound'.

    Did anyone else feel the same?

    Again, I suspect that the sound of classic Motown has always had greatest appeal to people with a more pronounced natural sense of rhythm, in contrast to those who do not. This probably included the majority of people here in the UK, especially in those more restrained, inhibited days.

    Whenever I started to play my records at home, responding to the rhythm, my Mum and Dad would always say they wanted to tap to a different beat from mine. Not so long afterwards, my Mum 'got it'.

    Is it my imagination, or has '60s Motown changed people's artistic appreciation of music, and that modern audiences now go for the drum beat when they hear rhythmic popular music which they know as 'Motown'?
    Last edited by westgrandboulevard; 04-20-2019 at 05:34 PM.

  32. #32
    I always knew I had a more pronounced natural sense of rhythm!!! I can thank Motown now.

    Fascinating thread and excellent posts guys!

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