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  1. #1
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    The Individual Sounds of Motown's Subsidiary Labels

    I probably chose the wrong term, 'subsidiary', when writing the title...maybe 'auxiliary' would have been better.

    We know Motown branched out to release its artists on different labels as not to saturate the market with everything labeled "Motown" which would have caused some DJs to be reluctant about playing 'yet another Motown record.'

    Each label tended to have its own "Motown" sound to my ear. IMO, the Motown label output was more sophisticated and polished. The music I heard from the Tamla label seemed mellow and laidback [[ex. Marvelettes & SR/Miracles). The Temptations and MR/Vandellas' output had an air of grittiness about it on the Gordy label. The Soul label had more of what soul music was sounding like from the other companies during the 60s. These are just what I consider the major Motown subsidiaries...yes, Lurlean, there are more.

    Although not always the case, the actual recording/mastering process seemed, to my ears, to be quite different especially when comparing the aural aspect of the smooth Tamla recordings and the dynamic sounding Motown recordings.

    All of this to say is that Berry and his side people were definitely geniuses in how to market the Motown sound which was really taking off around 1963-64.

  2. #2
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    I have wondered about this before

    I know early on they had Gospel and Country labels [[Mel-o-dy?)

    And later on they had Rare Earth which was for rock

    It would be interesting to see a listing of all labels and the artists on them

  3. #3
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    For info:

    Chisa records Motown had a distribution deal with Hugh Maskela 14 X 45's
    Black Forum: one 45 with Elaine Brown
    Manticore: six 45's Thee Image [[three 45's) , P.F.M., Keith Christmas & Little Richard
    Divinity the Gospel label four 45's
    Inferno Motown distribition deal seven 45's 1967-68, Berry bought out Inferno in 1968
    Gaiee one 45 Valentino
    Ecology one 45 Sammy Davis Jr.
    Gull Records [[UK label) artist Typically Tropical "Barbados" distributed by Motown in the USA during 1975. Motown also issued five albums on the label.
    Miracle Label twelve 45's Jan-Nov 1961
    Natural Resources they issued twenty seven albums and only one 45.
    Prodigal over thirty 45's
    Workshop Jazz seven 45's all Jazz May 1962 to Feb 1963
    Blaze one 45 Jack Ashford
    There are then two Country & Western Labels "Melodyland & Hitsville over fifty 45's
    Mel-O-Dy had 5 stunning Soul 45's 101 to 105 , BG then the other sixteen 106 to 121 were all country including two Bruce Channel 45's which are well worth a listen

    The best archive in the format you mention for all Motown labels & artists is Seabear http://www.seabear.se/Front.php

    The most detailed archive of every Motown record and related none Motown labels is DFTMC [[ Don't Forget The Motor City) http://www.dftmc.info/
    Last edited by Graham Jarvis; 01-18-2022 at 01:34 PM.

  4. #4
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    Thank you, Graham Jarvis, for that information about the other Motown labels.

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    Great stuff Graham Jarvis !

    Not mentioned yet
    Rare Earth

  6. #6
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    All your favourite stars are on Weed.

  7. #7
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    Also

    VIP
    MOWEST
    RIC TIC
    MOJAZZ
    TABU [[distribution)
    HARVEY
    ANNA
    TRI-PHI
    Last edited by mysterysinger; 01-19-2022 at 08:02 PM.

  8. #8
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    Motown distributed CTI/Kudu in the 1970s. Also their '80s rock/pop label Morocco [[artist Tiggi Clay)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Polhill View Post
    All your favourite stars are on Weed.
    I never understood why this one didnít take off.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham Jarvis View Post
    For info:
    The best archive in the format you mention for all Motown labels & artists is Seabear http://www.seabear.se/Front.php
    The most detailed archive of every Motown record and related none Motown labels is DFTMC [[ Don't Forget The Motor City) http://www.dftmc.info/
    ...seabear for 45s ...DFTMC only up to 1972/3...!

    ...another 'best archive' ...in fact the best for Motown & Associate label LPs is BSNPUBS http://www.bsnpubs.com/motown/motownstory.html

    Grape

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jobucats View Post
    I probably chose the wrong term, 'subsidiary', when writing the title...maybe 'auxiliary' would have been better.

    We know Motown branched out to release its artists on different labels as not to saturate the market with everything labeled "Motown" which would have caused some DJs to be reluctant about playing 'yet another Motown record.'

    Each label tended to have its own "Motown" sound to my ear. IMO, the Motown label output was more sophisticated and polished. The music I heard from the Tamla label seemed mellow and laidback [[ex. Marvelettes & SR/Miracles). The Temptations and MR/Vandellas' output had an air of grittiness about it on the Gordy label. The Soul label had more of what soul music was sounding like from the other companies during the 60s. These are just what I consider the major Motown subsidiaries...yes, Lurlean, there are more.

    Although not always the case, the actual recording/mastering process seemed, to my ears, to be quite different especially when comparing the aural aspect of the smooth Tamla recordings and the dynamic sounding Motown recordings.

    All of this to say is that Berry and his side people were definitely geniuses in how to market the Motown sound which was really taking off around 1963-64.
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    I think you are oversimplifying the actual situation, and that Soul Records was the only Motown non-specific genre label that had one type of sound on it [[grittier Soul Music, but it also had Blues in its beginning years. VIP, for example, was a mish-mosh of Motown acts from different genres with which Motown didn't know what to do [[basically, they didn't want to waste big-time [[or even small-time) marketing push money on them. Divinity was for Gospel/Spiritual Music. Melody [[after #5) became a novelty label for a couple issues, and after that[[most of its run) a C&W label). Rare Earth was for Rock Music. Workshop Jazz was for Jazz. Miracle, with only 12 releases, didn't even have it's own sound [[with a bluesy record by Pete Hartfield, White-Bread Pop, by Pop DJ Joel Sebastian and Don McKenzie, and gritty R&B by The Temptations, DooWop by The Equadors.

    Tamla, was first the record company's main label, and had a variety of single artists, and groups. Motown was originally set up to house the company's groups [[starting with The Miracles and The Satintones) and, at the beginning of Mickey Stevenson's bringing in his former group, The Love-Tones, Berry had planned for them to be on the label as well. But, Motown soon became the company's "showcase" label, signing the "prestige acts" to it [[former stars from other labels - like Amos Milburn, Connie Haines, Tony Martin, etc). But, basically, almost from the beginning, Motown had a diverse bunch of different sounds from different genres, just as Tamla did, and Gordy did from its start.

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    Strange how The Messengers "Window Shopping"/"California Soul" appeared on the Soul Label.

    I've always loved the backing on their version of "California Soul".

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    I was told the main reason for multiple labels was so that distribution could be divided in each city. Back then, record stores wouldn't pay their bills until they needed another hit from the same distributor. As a result, distributors wouldn't pay a label until they really needed another hit from that label. Motown's divided distribution maintained a much steadier income for the company than the roller coaster ride of only having a single distributor. Berry Gordy's experience with his failed record store paid off bigtime with managing his record labels.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blkfrost View Post
    Motown distributed CTI/Kudu in the 1970s. Also their '80s rock/pop label Morocco [[artist Tiggi Clay)
    The Morocco label singles [Motown Rock Co] were issued when there was a consolidated numbering system which, as well as the others, also included the Latino label.

    I've never been sure whether the MC label stood for Motown Country or Mike Curb.

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    Before Divinity was formed as Motown's gospel label, there had previously been three gospel singles released [The Gospel Harmoneers on Motown and The Gospel Stars and Rev. Columbus Mann both on Tamla].
    Was it just a coincidence that the first Divinity release was numbered 99004?

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    The last release on Miracle was in November 1961 and the first release on Gordy was in March 1962.
    As The Temptations and The Valadiers were transferred from Miracle to Gordy, the Gordy label can be regarded as the replacement label for Miracle.

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    Because of the Harry Balk connection, the numbering system of Inferno, when it ceased production, was continued on the Rare Earth label.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 144man View Post
    Before Divinity was formed as Motown's gospel label, there had previously been three gospel singles released [The Gospel Harmoneers on Motown and The Gospel Stars and Rev. Columbus Mann both on Tamla].
    Was it just a coincidence that the first Divinity release was numbered 99004?
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    Maybe there IS a relationship. Maybe they chose to start as #4 in case they would re-issue those 3 Gospel records for the oldies market, especially if Divinity would become a strong-selling Gospel label, so they would have the choice to re-issue those 3 as Divinity 1 through 3? George Fowler was the director [[President?) of Divinity Records. HE was to have charge of all Motown's gospel/Spiritual recordings. So, it would have been easier for Fowler simply to re-issue those 3 Gospel records on his own, Divinity Records, than for him to send the master tapes to Motown and/or Tamla [[and need to use several extra people's time from other departments to get them re-issued, when it would be easier to keep the process all in-house).

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    Quote Originally Posted by bob_olhsson View Post
    I was told the main reason for multiple labels was so that distribution could be divided in each city. Back then, record stores wouldn't pay their bills until they needed another hit from the same distributor. As a result, distributors wouldn't pay a label until they really needed another hit from that label. Motown's divided distribution maintained a much steadier income for the company than the roller coaster ride of only having a single distributor. Berry Gordy's experience with his failed record store paid off bigtime with managing his record labels.
    Many thanks for sharing this. It sounds so much like the record industry that I worked in for nine years or so before realising that it really wasn't suited to people like me because music came a poor third after money and product.

    Strangely, however, I still miss it from time to time because there were so many other souls like me who loved their music and saw joining the record industry as a way to get closer to it.

    The survivors were mainly those who ensured that music remained no higher than third place.

  20. #20
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    If not already and you love any of the Motown Gospel and not aware of these songs mostly unissued [[only available to download)
    Nine By Rev Columbus Man
    Four By The Gospel Stars
    Five By Rev Chas Glover
    Six By The Burnadettes
    Two By The Pronouns

    There are then a further three Gospel 45's on the "Message" label that came across from Harvey Fuqua & Gwen Gordy when Tri-Phi closed down. [[all 3 on you tube)
    Sensational Jubilettes, Sensational Saints of Ohio & Sensational Skylarks of Detroit
    Two of the Message 45's I got from the clearance auction and sale of Berry Gordys previous Detroit Mansion. There was also a batch of 29 copies Tamla 54067 of Saundra Mallett & The Vandellas that sold for $800.

    Last edited by Graham Jarvis; 01-30-2022 at 06:53 AM.

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