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  1. Were some of Motown's recordings too advanced for radio at the time?

    Listening to the recently released Carolyn Crawford song, "Lover Boy", once again, I feel this jaw-dropping marvel at the sheer volume of high-quality songs that not only were unreleased, but never even reused on other artists. You really have to appreciate it when you read from the writers how Motown encouraged creativity and taking chances.

    Something like "Lover Boy", to me, is so beautiful. I do understand there was literally so much recording going on, no way all of them could come out, but was this, like some other Motown recordings, too advance for the time?


  2. #2
    All of Carolyn's Motown recordings were of superior quality. Motown just had too much talent to adequately promote.

  3. #3
    I was not familiar with this treasure which is indeed a superb recording. The drawback to this particular song is that it is in 3/4 time [[waltz) time which is a rarity in most popular music. Being a Motown fan and also a musician, I even have difficulty coming up with other titles from Motown that are written in this time signature. One that does come to mind; however, is the Four Tops' "Yesterday's Dreams" which, while very good, is not one of the singles they are most known for.

  4. Quote Originally Posted by jobucats View Post
    I was not familiar with this treasure which is indeed a superb recording. The drawback to this particular song is that it is in 3/4 time [[waltz) time which is a rarity in most popular music. Being a Motown fan and also a musician, I even have difficulty coming up with other titles from Motown that are written in this time signature. One that does come to mind; however, is the Four Tops' "Yesterday's Dreams" which, while very good, is not one of the singles they are most known for.
    Good points. I think Brenda Holloway's "Every Little Bit Hurts" was the anomaly; despite Berry Gordy's belief that songs in waltz time wouldn't sell, he only released it because of Billie Jean Brown's unrelenting faith in the song.

    I think years later, the same argument happened around Diana Ross's "Reach Out And Touch" because it was in 3/3 waltz time.

    For me, jazz man Dave Brubeck got my ears wide open to the possibilities of just how hard a waltz-time tempo really could rock.

  5. Quote Originally Posted by jobucats View Post
    Being a Motown fan and also a musician, I even have difficulty coming up with other titles from Motown that are written in this time signature. One that does come to mind; however, is the Four Tops' "Yesterday's Dreams" which, while very good, is not one of the singles they are most known for.
    "Go Ahead And Laugh" Martha & The Vandellas

    "Does Your Mama Know About Me" Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers

    "Baby Baby" The Miracles [[album track, "Away We A Go Go"

    "One Too Many Heartaches" The Isley Brothers

    "I'll Be Standing By" and "Do You Love Me Just A Little Honey" Gladys Knight & The Pips [[album tracks, "Everybody Needs Love")

    to name a few...
    Last edited by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance; 05-11-2021 at 02:48 AM.

  6. #6
    What a fantastic song to have been left in the vault. I can almost hear Tammi Terrell singing this really well too.

  7. #7
    Absolutely Beautiful Song! To answer the question, 'was Carolyn Crawford's "Lover Boy" too advanced for radio at the time', I say no. This was just another song that didn't make the cut at one of Motown's Quality Control Meetings. Consider that Martha & the Vandellas' classic "Jimmy Mack" stayed in the vaults for years simply because Billie-Jean Brown didn't care for the song [and didn't even let B.G. hear it]. Thanks to WWLFAC for sharing "Lover Boy".

  8. #8
    If you were not already aware "Lover Boy" and 11 other unissued tracks out of a total of 24 were issued on the Ace Cd "Motown Girls Finders Keepers 1961-1967" [[Vol1) in 2013.

    Now Look Out For It "Motown Girls Vol 4" is imminent!

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  9. #9
    Here in the UK, until Offshore known as Pirate Radio broadcasting from ships, would we have heard Motown music on radio, that is why Motown started to really develop in the UK, and as many artists I interviewed in the 70's on radio, would say they loved England, thanks to the reaction they received. In fact without Pirate/Offshore Radio I doubt I would have worked nearly all of my career in radio, as a youngster I would listen to I would listen to to my transitor radio under my pillow, hearing Motown singles or Tamla Motown here in the UK, Friday I would ask Mum when she went to town, to get me a single, often not knowing the full title just words from the song, never did I think that I would get to know so many off those artists and interview them many times. So thanks to Berry Gordy Jnr!

  10. #10
    Have to agree about Carolyn Crawford - not a bad side at Motown for sure [[and some nice stuff at Motorcity "Timeless", "Since I Lost My Baby" etc). Very talented and by all accounts a feisty lady. Shame the really big time never called - but she has our undying love and respect.

  11. #11
    Ditto, brings back memories! I would fall asleep with the transistor radio on, you never heard these records on normal radio in the UK.
    Last edited by Graham Jarvis; 05-11-2021 at 09:18 AM.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    "Go Ahead And Laugh" Martha & The Vandellas

    "Does Your Mama Know About Me" Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers

    "Baby Baby" The Miracles [[album track, "Away We A Go Go"

    "One Too Many Heartaches" The Isley Brothers

    "I'll Be Standing By" and "Do You Love Me Just A Little Honey" Gladys Knight & The Pips [[album tracks, "Everybody Needs Love")

    to name a few...
    Hey, I would have to respectfully disagree that those selections are in 3/4 time [[waltz) time but are in 12/8 time [[possibly even 6/8) in which there is basic feeling of 4 beats with 3 quick sub-beats going on for each beat. 1 and ah 2 and ah 3 and ah 4 and ah= 4 main beats multiplied by 3 sub-beats=12. Diana's Reach out In Touch is an excellent example that you provided about a single release being in 3/4 time. I apologize for directing away from the beautiful "Lover Boy" by Carolyn Crawford.

  13. #13
    [QUOTE=Graham Jarvis;626528]

    Now Look Out For It "Motown Girls Vol 4" is imminent!


    Thank you for the tidbit. I realize that because of co-vid, it has taken a long time to bring this project to fruition. June Ace releases have already been posted, so if we get it sometime this summer/early fall, I'll be happy.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by jobucats View Post
    Hey, I would have to respectfully disagree that those selections are in 3/4 time [[waltz) time but are in 12/8 time [[possibly even 6/8) in which there is basic feeling of 4 beats with 3 quick sub-beats going on for each beat. 1 and ah 2 and ah 3 and ah 4 and ah= 4 main beats multiplied by 3 sub-beats=12. Diana's Reach out In Touch is an excellent example that you provided about a single release being in 3/4 time. I apologize for directing away from the beautiful "Lover Boy" by Carolyn Crawford.
    The thread you opened on Motown records in waltz tempo can't be opened because you used the banned left parenthesis in the title.[see top of Club House Forum]

  15. Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    Absolutely Beautiful Song! To answer the question, 'was Carolyn Crawford's "Lover Boy" too advanced for radio at the time', I say no. This was just another song that didn't make the cut at one of Motown's Quality Control Meetings. Consider that Martha & the Vandellas' classic "Jimmy Mack" stayed in the vaults for years simply because Billie-Jean Brown didn't care for the song [and didn't even let B.G. hear it]. Thanks to WWLFAC for sharing "Lover Boy".
    I like the example you mentioned about "Jimmy Mack" [[makes me wonder too about "Can't Break The Habit"). The Quality Control thing was once a vague sort of thing to me years ago but we've been so fortunate to have had many books and Hitsville: The Making of Motown documentary as of late. We've learned more and yet I feel there are still things to learn about that process. You're most likely right that "Lover Boy" was just another one that QC passed on, [[or never got to.)

  16. Quote Originally Posted by jobucats View Post
    Hey, I would have to respectfully disagree that those selections are in 3/4 time [[waltz) time but are in 12/8 time [[possibly even 6/8) in which there is basic feeling of 4 beats with 3 quick sub-beats going on for each beat. 1 and ah 2 and ah 3 and ah 4 and ah= 4 main beats multiplied by 3 sub-beats=12. Diana's Reach out In Touch is an excellent example that you provided about a single release being in 3/4 time. I apologize for directing away from the beautiful "Lover Boy" by Carolyn Crawford.
    Yeah, I wasn't sure because of exactly the explanation you gave. I had thought about things like "Love Has Gone" by the Tops but then realized that is 6/8 [[I think...) And you're still on topic because jobucats brought up the point and it got me thinking about it.

  17. Quote Originally Posted by Graham Jarvis View Post
    If you were not already aware "Lover Boy" and 11 other unissued tracks out of a total of 24 were issued on the Ace Cd "Motown Girls Finders Keepers 1961-1967" [[Vol1) in 2013.

    Now Look Out For It "Motown Girls Vol 4" is imminent!

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    The very CD I got this from [[wink!)

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by 144man View Post
    The thread you opened on Motown records in waltz tempo can't be opened because you used the banned left parenthesis in the title.[see top of Club House Forum]
    Thanks for the alert and the reminder of the banned left parenthesis. I am even 'forbidden' from accessing it to delete it. Lesson learned!

  19. #19
    Interesting that different interpretations about the time signature of a song has come up again!

    I remember back on the old forum, there was a debate about what time signature The Miracles 'Ooo Baby Baby' was in.

    Someone suggested it was in 12/8 time, whilst others [Including Ralph] reckon it was in 4/4 time!

    Anyway, thanks to WWLFAC for posting this interesting and quality track.

    Cheers

    Paul

  20. #20
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    I am and always have been, as a big a Carolyn Crawford fan as there is. I LOVE this song. It's a "100" for me, and my second favourite by her [[far better than ANY Supremes' song). I love it, precisely because it's very different from the standard Motown Sound, just like Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" was different [[in tempo) from the standard Jazz tunes of its time, and yet all its other aspects were also extremely good to my taste. I think it was rejected for release by Quality Control for the same reason that Kim Weston's "A Little More Love" was. Both have such a different sound, that they are not going to be liked by "the masses", because they, like exotic foods, have to be appreciated slowly, like an "acquired taste". A certain percentage of the public and DJs, too, will LOVE such a song, to death, precisely BECAUSE it is different. And the best of such releases, like Sukiaki and Take Five, will catch on and become mega hits.

    But Motown had a problem, in that the overall quality of their release was so very good, they were dominating the charts, so radio stations had to limit how many Motown records they could play at one time, or 90% of records played would have come from one company, and that would result in restraint of trade. Plus, the filthy-rich Majors wouldn't have been able to stand such a situation. So, Motown, having almost a sure hit with The Temptations, Four Tops, Supremes, Martha & The Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, and a good shot with The Marvelettes, in 1965, were NOT going to gamble on an "acquired taste" possible "hit or miss" record, when they already had a problem getting all their "Motown formulaic" almost sure hits played. In 1963 and early 1964, when Carolyn got her 3 45s released, Motown wasn't yet dominating the Pop charts enough to have DJs refusing to play some of their would-be hits because of tremendously high chart domination like they had by 1965-67. Had this song been up for review in 1963, or early 1964, Carolyn would have had a much better chance to get it issued.

  21. Quote Originally Posted by bradburger View Post
    Interesting that different interpretations about the time signature of a song has come up again!

    I remember back on the old forum, there was a debate about what time signature The Miracles 'Ooo Baby Baby' was in.

    Someone suggested it was in 12/8 time, whilst others [Including Ralph] reckon it was in 4/4 time!

    Anyway, thanks to WWLFAC for posting this interesting and quality track.

    Cheers

    Paul
    I always enjoy when you appear in these threads, Paul. I started getting into Dave Brubeck's music some years ago and the ONE thing I'm still learning about is the abundance of ways you can play with time signatures, including playing one time signature over another one- polyrhythms? Is that the term?

    Dave does this thing where the band will play in 3/3 time while Dave goes into 4/4 or 4/2 time on the piano. I know it boils down to mathematics but it's really amazing to hear some of the things they do. His music has gotten me to pay more attention to things I've always taken for granted in Motown music. Some of the songs I listed, I would peg as 3/3 time or 4/2 time played within 3/3.

    There are some real head-scratchers too, like "I'll Pay Double", another Smokey song by the Four Tops. Martha & The Vandellas' "He Doesn't Love Her Anymore", which sounds like 4/2, but I think there is something else going on below the surface as well. "Ooo Baby Baby" sounds like straight 4/2 but then again, you could just as easily count off a waltz time within the structure. In fact, Motown often had that thing where a song would be going on in 4/2 time and then suddenly skipping into a sort of 3/3 time [["Greetings! This Is Uncle Sam" is one example).

    So there we go...another interesting subject for a thread- Motown's Hard-to-Peg Time Signatures.

    [[P.S. would you take a listen to the Miracles' "Oh Be My Love"? Is that thing being played at half speed???! There is something about the sound of the drums that make me question if that's what's going on there...)

  22. Quote Originally Posted by robb_k View Post
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    I am and always have been, as a big a Carolyn Crawford fan as there is. I LOVE this song. It's a "100" for me, and my second favourite by her [[far better than ANY Supremes' song). I love it, precisely because it's very different from the standard Motown Sound, just like Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" was different [[in tempo) from the standard Jazz tunes of its time, and yet all its other aspects were also extremely good to my taste. I think it was rejected for release by Quality Control for the same reason that Kim Weston's "A Little More Love" was. Both have such a different sound, that they are not going to be liked by "the masses", because they, like exotic foods, have to be appreciated slowly, like an "acquired taste". A certain percentage of the public and DJs, too, will LOVE such a song, to death, precisely BECAUSE it is different. And the best of such releases, like Sukiaki and Take Five, will catch on and become mega hits.

    But Motown had a problem, in that the overall quality of their release was so very good, they were dominating the charts, so radio stations had to limit how many Motown records they could play at one time, or 90% of records played would have come from one company, and that would result in restraint of trade. Plus, the filthy-rich Majors wouldn't have been able to stand such a situation. So, Motown, having almost a sure hit with The Temptations, Four Tops, Supremes, Martha & The Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, and a good shot with The Marvelettes, in 1965, were NOT going to gamble on an "acquired taste" possible "hit or miss" record, when they already had a problem getting all their "Motown formulaic" almost sure hits played. In 1963 and early 1964, when Carolyn got her 3 45s released, Motown wasn't yet dominating the Pop charts enough to have DJs refusing to play some of their would-be hits because of tremendously high chart domination like they had by 1965-67. Had this song been up for review in 1963, or early 1964, Carolyn would have had a much better chance to get it issued.
    Robb, you're very good at this sort of thing; coming up with insightful, contextual comments that are really good to read. Reading something with the sort of context you provided here is, to me, very much like when you eat a meal that is so good, you can only focus on that meal and nothing else.

    Thanks to YouTube, now we can listen to vintage Top 40 and Soul radio broadcasts. The thing that came crashing down on me is the sheer volume of songs and artists I had never heard of. And that a "typical" broadcast day sounds nothing at all like what you hear on Oldies radio, meaning that you won't hear a non-stop deluge of huge hits. That makes me appreciate just how difficult a time Motown and DJs would have had trying to accommodate ALL those Motown releases on the radio. I mean, the airwaves were CROWDED with stars and even more wanna-be's, all vying for airtime. You reminded me of that point and it helps to see why there was no way everyone at Motown was going to become a star.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by jobucats View Post
    Hey, I would have to respectfully disagree that those selections are in 3/4 time [[waltz) time but are in 12/8 time [[possibly even 6/8) in which there is basic feeling of 4 beats with 3 quick sub-beats going on for each beat. 1 and ah 2 and ah 3 and ah 4 and ah= 4 main beats multiplied by 3 sub-beats=12. Diana's Reach out In Touch is an excellent example that you provided about a single release being in 3/4 time. I apologize for directing away from the beautiful "Lover Boy" by Carolyn Crawford.
    I remember on a different thread Ralph explaining that "Reach Out And Touch" was in 6/8 time rather than 3/4.
    However, while this is technically correct, if you can get into the standard ballroom hold with your partner and are able to perform the basic waltz steps [which you can do with "Reach Out And Touch"], that's close enough for me.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by robb_k View Post
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    I am and always have been, as a big a Carolyn Crawford fan as there is. I LOVE this song. It's a "100" for me, and my second favourite by her [[far better than ANY Supremes' song). I love it, precisely because it's very different from the standard Motown Sound, just like Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" was different [[in tempo) from the standard Jazz tunes of its time, and yet all its other aspects were also extremely good to my taste. I think it was rejected for release by Quality Control for the same reason that Kim Weston's "A Little More Love" was. Both have such a different sound, that they are not going to be liked by "the masses", because they, like exotic foods, have to be appreciated slowly, like an "acquired taste". A certain percentage of the public and DJs, too, will LOVE such a song, to death, precisely BECAUSE it is different. And the best of such releases, like Sukiaki and Take Five, will catch on and become mega hits.

    But Motown had a problem, in that the overall quality of their release was so very good, they were dominating the charts, so radio stations had to limit how many Motown records they could play at one time, or 90% of records played would have come from one company, and that would result in restraint of trade. Plus, the filthy-rich Majors wouldn't have been able to stand such a situation. So, Motown, having almost a sure hit with The Temptations, Four Tops, Supremes, Martha & The Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, and a good shot with The Marvelettes, in 1965, were NOT going to gamble on an "acquired taste" possible "hit or miss" record, when they already had a problem getting all their "Motown formulaic" almost sure hits played. In 1963 and early 1964, when Carolyn got her 3 45s released, Motown wasn't yet dominating the Pop charts enough to have DJs refusing to play some of their would-be hits because of tremendously high chart domination like they had by 1965-67. Had this song been up for review in 1963, or early 1964, Carolyn would have had a much better chance to get it issued.

    Robb your enthusiasm is contagious! Each time I'm in my car these past few days I've let this have a go and have really come to appreciate it !



    Thanks Waiting for the post !

  25. #25
    Apologies if you have already see this one:
    Carolyn Crawford Medley Motown A-Go-Go Bert's Warehouse 10-25-19

    Checkout "Keep Steppin" & Never Look Back" not issued until 2005 on Cellarfull Of Motown Volume 2

    https://youtu.be/F3h4KFD7rts
    Last edited by Graham Jarvis; 05-14-2021 at 07:31 AM.

  26. #26
    Carolyn Crawford should've had an LP on Motown. Even if "Lover Boy" was too complex for radio [and Motown had too many hit singles getting airplay on their other artists], she truly had enough songs to go along with her three Motown singles [like "Keep Stepping", "My Heart", "Until You Came Along" & "I'll Come Running"] to make a first rate album.

    PS; She also had three singles for PIR between 1974 & 1975 but again no album until she recorded two LPs, My Name Is Caroline and Nice & Soulful, in the late '70s for Mercury and the
    Heartaches set for Motorcity in 1990.
    Last edited by Motown Eddie; 05-15-2021 at 11:23 AM.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    Carolyn Crawford should've had an LP on Motown.
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    As I recall, Berry stopped issuing singles on Carolyn, because her Mother wanted her to continue her schooling, and not staying up late at night to sing at local venues, and she couldn't go out on tour because of school. So he thought [[rightly so) that there was no point in putting money into promoting records by her. That would have been doubly true for an LP. So, that issue was closed. When she came of age, the connection between her and Gordy mattered little, because Berry was busy with the bigger issues of the company, and maybe Carolyn and her agent thought she'd have less competition and more artistic freedom at Roulette.

    Berry's push to record her was to see if she could take over for Mary Wells as Marvin Gaye's partner in the main M/F duet, and for Mary as the company's main female single artist. After Tammi Terrell and Brenda Holloway filled those roles, it wasn't necessary to rush Carolyn into those roles.
    Last edited by robb_k; 05-16-2021 at 01:13 PM.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by robb_k View Post
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    As I recall, Berry stopped issuing singles on Carolyn, because her Mother wanted her to continue her schooling, and not staying up late at night to sing at local venues, and she couldn't go out on tour because of school. So he thought [[rightly so) that there was no point in putting money into promoting records by her. That would have been doubly true for an LP. So, that issue was closed. When she came of age, the connection between her and Gordy mattered little, because Berry was busy with the bigger issues of the company, and maybe Carolyn and her agent thought she'd have less competition and more artistic freedom at Roulette.
    Okay; that explains what went down with Carolyn Crawford's stint at Motown. Thanks for the info Robb.

  29. #29
    [QUOTE=144man;627000]I remember on a different thread Ralph explaining that "Reach Out And Touch" was in 6/8 time rather than 3/4.
    However, while this is technically correct, if you can get into the standard ballroom hold with your partner and are able to perform the basic waltz steps [which you can do with "Reach Out And Touch"], that's close enough for me.[/QUOTE

    Your last sentence is 'on point' regarding being able to do basic waltz steps. Even seasoned musicians educated in theory will often time debate the 6/8 versus the 3/4 time signature [[just as we debate if a song is in 2/2 time or 4/4 time) so I am not quite convinced that 6/8 is the gospel answer. In my original reply, I should have left out 3/4 and just stuck with waltz time.

  30. #30
    This is another scratch your head moment. Great song, great vocals. Highly underrated. M&TV also does a version [[CC's is better) and the liner notes to COM2 also said that the Marvelettes did a version, but one has never turned up..it definitely would have fit in nicely with Danger and I'll Keep On Holding On all written by Hunter/Stevenson...

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by SatansBlues View Post
    This is another scratch your head moment. Great song, great vocals. Highly underrated. M&TV also does a version [[CC's is better) and the liner notes to COM2 also said that the Marvelettes did a version, but one has never turned up..it definitely would have fit in nicely with Danger and I'll Keep On Holding On all written by Hunter/Stevenson...
    It also fits in with Martha & Vandellas'"You've Been In Love Too Long" [Hunter, Paul, Stevenson].

  32. #32
    I think Kim Weston's "A Thrill A Moment" sounds about a decade ahead of its time at some points



    Shoutout to WaitingWatching's great YouTube video

  33. Quote Originally Posted by TomatoTom123 View Post
    I think Kim Weston's "A Thrill A Moment" sounds about a decade ahead of its time at some points



    Shoutout to WaitingWatching's great YouTube video
    Awwww! Thank you, Tom! And I'm with you here about this song. There was nothing else as grand in scope as this. It sounds almost "theatrical" in some regards with those startlingly glorious horns, swirling harps and crashing cymbals. This thing is like a rapturous tide that sweeps EVERYTHING away with it.
    Last edited by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance; 05-25-2021 at 08:19 PM.

  34. #34
    It's important to understand what we were doing. Releasing a single was a pretty expensive proposition by the time you paid for manufacturing, shipping and promotion aligning airplay with live shows and a prominent location in record stores. For new artists, there was the added complication of coupling the release with one by an established artist so that you could get stores to display and stations to play your new artist in exchange for early access to the next Supremes or Temptations hit.

    What got released was whatever was considered the most likely hit we had at any particular time. It was never "throw it up against the wall to see what sticks" like the majors did. Motown also couldn't afford payola so our best promotion tool was timing and swapping favors. We also needed a steady stream of hits in order to get the stores to pay for our records. Berry had learned this from owning a record store. Stores lost money 11 months a year and, hopefully, made it up over Christmas. His understanding combined with Barney Ales' experience at Capitol is a lot of why Motown was so successful. Even then, I'm not sure the record sales actually paid for our extraordinary production process.

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by bob_olhsson View Post
    It's important to understand what we were doing. Releasing a single was a pretty expensive proposition by the time you paid for manufacturing, shipping and promotion aligning airplay with live shows and a prominent location in record stores. For new artists, there was the added complication of coupling the release with one by an established artist so that you could get stores to display and stations to play your new artist in exchange for early access to the next Supremes or Temptations hit.

    What got released was whatever was considered the most likely hit we had at any particular time. It was never "throw it up against the wall to see what sticks" like the majors did. Motown also couldn't afford payola so our best promotion tool was timing and swapping favors. We also needed a steady stream of hits in order to get the stores to pay for our records. Berry had learned this from owning a record store. Stores lost money 11 months a year and, hopefully, made it up over Christmas. His understanding combined with Barney Ales' experience at Capitol is a lot of why Motown was so successful. Even then, I'm not sure the record sales actually paid for our extraordinary production process.
    Thanks Bob. This post truly explains how so many great Motown songs from the '60s ended up in the vaults. And as an earlier post from Robb K. states, the company could only release so many recordings at one time.

  36. Quote Originally Posted by bob_olhsson View Post
    It's important to understand what we were doing. Releasing a single was a pretty expensive proposition by the time you paid for manufacturing, shipping and promotion aligning airplay with live shows and a prominent location in record stores. For new artists, there was the added complication of coupling the release with one by an established artist so that you could get stores to display and stations to play your new artist in exchange for early access to the next Supremes or Temptations hit.

    What got released was whatever was considered the most likely hit we had at any particular time. It was never "throw it up against the wall to see what sticks" like the majors did. Motown also couldn't afford payola so our best promotion tool was timing and swapping favors. We also needed a steady stream of hits in order to get the stores to pay for our records. Berry had learned this from owning a record store. Stores lost money 11 months a year and, hopefully, made it up over Christmas. His understanding combined with Barney Ales' experience at Capitol is a lot of why Motown was so successful. Even then, I'm not sure the record sales actually paid for our extraordinary production process.
    Thank you for your wonderful answer. I started as a Motown fan in my teens- purely for the music. Then, I started appreciating Motown precisely for the points you brought up. I bought so many books on Motown, and that really struck me- the fact that Motown was run on amazing strategizing and planning, much like playing chess, trying to think as many steps ahead of your opponent as possible. I had read how Motown didn't just release whatever and hope it stuck against the wall and that was like a key unlocking a door into Motown's greatness. It wasn't just about having a good product, it was about having the BEST possible product possible to maximize your hit-making average.

    I was reading a book on the Chicago recording scene of the 60's and 70's and was bowled over by the sheer volume of independent record labels that existed there. None of them ever became a household name. They basically did release whatever whatever they had recorded and hustled the records around town, hoping something would hit the charts. They'd get airplay, but not much in the way of sustainable sales or career-building hits. This was yet another thing that gave me even more insight into just what an amazing operation Berry Gordy build around himself and the incredible people who knew the business end inside-out. Along with people like yourself who knew how to engineer those records for the best sound possible that helped make Motown the household name it became.

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    I was reading a book on the Chicago recording scene of the 60's and 70's and was bowled over by the sheer volume of independent record labels that existed there. None of them ever became a household name. They basically did release whatever whatever they had recorded and hustled the records around town, hoping something would hit the charts. They'd get airplay, but not much in the way of sustainable sales or career-building hits. This was yet another thing that gave me even more insight into just what an amazing operation Berry Gordy build around himself and the incredible people who knew the business end inside-out. Along with people like yourself who knew how to engineer those records for the best sound possible that helped make Motown the household name it became.
    Wow! Never knew that Chicago had a whole lot of independent record labels [I always think of Chess, Brunswick & Vee Jay when I remember the Chicago Soul music scene in the '60s]. And your piece [along with the ones from Bob Ohlsson & Robb K.] points out why Motown has so many great songs that ended up unreleased. Thanks WWLFAC!

  38. Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    Wow! Never knew that Chicago had a whole lot of independent record labels [I always think of Chess, Brunswick & Vee Jay when I remember the Chicago Soul music scene in the '60s]. And your piece [along with the ones from Bob Ohlsson & Robb K.] points out why Motown has so many great songs that ended up unreleased. Thanks WWLFAC!
    Hi Eddie, the book is simply called "Chicago Soul" by Robert Pruter. It's a good exhaustive read about all the men and women who were involved in the Chicago recording scene, including the main labels you mentioned. Really gets into how these labels started, who were the people behind the scenes as well as a titanic review of the artists who recorded in Chicago. It's really something just how active Chicago was and sad that there were so many who never were going to get a shot at the brass ring. Even though the book is not in any way pointing out the differences between these companies and Motown, you will start seeing just why nobody today talks about The Chicago Sound the same way or with anywhere near the same frequency as The Motown Sound.

    Here are just some of the labels that were out of Chicago: Shama, Twinight,Expo, Brainstorm, Jehart, Tarpon, Gerri, Jacklyn, Ole, Crash...and the list goes on.

    The book also discusses the more well-known labels like Brunswick, One-Derful, Mercury, Chess, Okeh and the Vee Jay story. Also includes brief chapters on Chicago radio stations, the DJs who played the music and even the dance fads that influenced some of the hits that you heard on the radio. If you ever find a copy of the book and like reading this sort of thing, you'll definitely enjoy it. My copy is pretty battered [[ha ha!) and still love reading it every so often.

  39. #39
    Chicago was the center of the recording industry between the 1930s and late 1960s when most of it moved to Los Angeles. Chicago was the production center for the NBC and CBS radio networks. Detroit became the production center for ABC radio when NBC divested the network during the 1940s. Both cities offered a great deal of high paying radio and advertising work for musicians.

  40. #40
    I should add that I'm not certain that Berry Gordy and his family fully realize how brilliantly the company was managed. I certainly had no idea until I dealt with the major labels years later.

  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    Hi Eddie, the book is simply called "Chicago Soul" by Robert Pruter. It's a good exhaustive read about all the men and women who were involved in the Chicago recording scene, including the main labels you mentioned. Really gets into how these labels started, who were the people behind the scenes as well as a titanic review of the artists who recorded in Chicago. It's really something just how active Chicago was and sad that there were so many who never were going to get a shot at the brass ring. Even though the book is not in any way pointing out the differences between these companies and Motown, you will start seeing just why nobody today talks about The Chicago Sound the same way or with anywhere near the same frequency as The Motown Sound. If you ever find a copy of the book and like reading this sort of thing, you'll definitely enjoy it. My copy is pretty battered [[ha ha!) and still love reading it every so often.
    I've heard of Robert Pruter's book Chicago Soul but never gotten around to reading it. Will grab a copy if it ever turns up. Thanks for the Tip!

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    I've heard of Robert Pruter's book Chicago Soul but never gotten around to reading it. Will grab a copy if it ever turns up. Thanks for the Tip!

    Robert Pruter not only a collector of all Chicago 45 issues but was also a Chicago University proffesor and he also taught a degree in "Chicago Soul" now thats something to have !
    His book is a stunning reference, the Chapter concerning Chess Records and it demise & final demolition made me cry as it would any lover of Soul Music 45's & Albums.

  43. #43
    Don't forget Robert Pruter's other exhaustive book, "Doowop - The Chicago Scene", from 1996.

    Best regards
    Heikki

  44. Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    I've heard of Robert Pruter's book Chicago Soul but never gotten around to reading it. Will grab a copy if it ever turns up. Thanks for the Tip!
    You're welcome!

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