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  1. #1
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    Just an observation

    As a child of the 60s and 70s, I used to visually analyze the small numbers that were carved into the Motown 45s and lps.

    I also wondered why the great majority of the groups had the word "The" in their names....The Temptations, The Supremes, The Contours, etc.; yet there were a very few that did not....Four Tops. Hmmm Surely, when they performed on stage, it was, "And ladies and gentlemen, here are the Four Tops." Not, "Here are Four Tops."

    I have not gone through the entire Motown stable to see where "The" is not part of the name of a group; however, a few that come to mind are Jackson Five, Commodores and Mary Jane Girls.

    Again, this is not an earth shattering observation; however, why do you suppose especially Four Tops and Jackson Five that they didn't include "The" as part of their official name.

    Many of my friends would tell me, "John, just get a life. It ain't nothing but a chicken wang."

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by jobucats View Post
    As a child of the 60s and 70s, I used to visually analyze the small numbers that were carved into the Motown 45s and lps.

    I also wondered why the great majority of the groups had the word "The" in their names....The Temptations, The Supremes, The Contours, etc.; yet there were a very few that did not....Four Tops. Hmmm Surely, when they performed on stage, it was, "And ladies and gentlemen, here are the Four Tops." Not, "Here are Four Tops."

    I have not gone through the entire Motown stable to see where "The" is not part of the name of a group; however, a few that come to mind are Jackson Five, Commodores and Mary Jane Girls.

    Again, this is not an earth shattering observation; however, why do you suppose especially Four Tops and Jackson Five that they didn't include "The" as part of their official name.

    Many of my friends would tell me, "John, just get a life. It ain't nothing but a chicken wang."
    It's a great observation and one that I used to think about too. I think groups naming themselves with a "The" in front was just a generational thing, something of the times. It was across the board, not just the Motown groups. And I think it was more prevalent among the Black groups. I remember my father talking about this with me in the 70s, how in the late 50s/early 60s, it was commonplace for solo r&b singers to call themselves "Little" so-and-so. Then it just kinda faded out. Then the trend was to call yourself "The" whatevers and especially So-and-so "AND THE" Whatnots. By the 1970s, that sort of moniker had become old-fashioned. There were still a few holdovers, but the newer, younger and progressive groups were using names not requiring a "THE" in front of it. In fact, I remember when I was a kid in the 70s, I had a so-called group and I was going to name us "THE" somethings. But I knew that was only because I was trying to sound like a 1960s group, so even then I knew it would have been out-of-date to use "THE" in our name. So, actually the Four Tops were ahead of the game...
    Last edited by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance; 11-24-2022 at 02:55 PM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    So, actually the Four Tops were ahead of the game...
    That is so true. I was unable to come up with any Motown group to go without "The" prior to around 1969 with the exception of Rare Earth. And then again, The Rare Earth doesn't quite work, right? Thank you for your perspective.

  4. #4
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    after a lifetime of calling it "The Ukraine" it now seems normal to hear it as "Ukraine"

  5. #5
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    I believe the guys wanted be known as four top guys hence Four Tops rather than The Four Tops. Either way it sounds better than The Four Aims.

  6. #6
    I know they're not a Motown act, but I didn't realize until 10 years ago that the Carpenters are technically called "Carpenters". Makes sense, since the "The" prefix has never been featured on any of their album covers...yet it took me this long to realize.
    Last edited by carlo; 11-26-2022 at 02:42 PM.

  7. #7
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    When the Spinners left Motown, many of their Atlantic recordings just listed them as "Spinners".

  8. #8
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    This is so interesting. It’s been something I’ve wanted to start a thread on, but never got around to it. So thank you jobucats. In my car on one the SiriusXM stations I’ve see them list/name “Supremes” and then other times “The Supremes”. So it got me wondering which, according to contracts, or the 45’s, or album covers is technically correct. Is it a language rule?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boogiedown View Post
    after a lifetime of calling it "The Ukraine" it now seems normal to hear it as "Ukraine"
    Perhaps someone can explain why we say “The Bronx”. No other boroughs in NY uses “The”.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by carlo View Post
    I know they're not a Motown act, but I didn't realize until 10 years ago that the Carpenters are technically called "Carpenters". Makes sense, since the "The" prefix has never been featured on any of their album covers...yet it took me this long to realize.
    Yeah I remember reading that in a couple of books about the "Carpenters.". I'm not sure ANY of us knew that or thought about it in the seventies! I only found this out within the last couple of years!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by khansperac View Post
    Perhaps someone can explain why we say “The Bronx”. No other boroughs in NY uses “The”.
    good one ...




    People often wonder why the Bronx, alone of all New York’s boroughs, has “the” as part of its name. It’s because the borough is named after the Bronx River and the river was named for a man born in far-off Sweden.
    they explain it this way .



    I recall an airing of Amercian Top 40 where Casey Kasem went out of his way to say the group isn't THE Eagles....it's just "Eagles" ....


    he then went on to say, "Here then is "Such and such" by Eagles.
    Last edited by Boogiedown; 11-29-2022 at 04:32 PM.

  12. #12
    Is it possibly for a practical reason to aid cataloging as all the "The"s end up together.
    I have catalogued all my Motown LPs and CD's and took off all the "The"s for this reason.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stax_of_Motown View Post
    Is it possibly for a practical reason to aid cataloging as all the "The"s end up together.
    I have catalogued all my Motown LPs and CD's and took off all the "The"s for this reason.
    Yeah, "The" can really throw off an alphabetical list. Some computer programs and hymn titles in the back of the hymnbooks consider "The" when alphabetizing; while some programs don't. I also catalogue my music without "The".

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Stax_of_Motown View Post
    Is it possibly for a practical reason to aid cataloging as all the "The"s end up together.
    I have catalogued all my Motown LPs and CD's and took off all the "The"s for this reason.
    I recall learning in school that it was the correct way to leave off "the" when cataloging anything. An episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show mentioned that point once. I do believe though that the hipper kids that were happening in music from the late 60s onward found the use of "The" old-fashioned and a relic of the past. That was impressed on me further when on an episode of the old show Frasier, a young girl laughed derisively at the older Frasier character for referring to some trendy night club as "The" whatever. The 20-something snickered as she rolled her eyes and mocked, "yeah. "THE."

  15. #15
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    I think this is an interesting observation jobu and one that I have also noticed before. To me, it seems something of a combination of what works better with the group’s name, and as WaitingWatching says, what is/was fashionable.

    In recent years, artists have also released albums that are stylised in upper or lower case text. Ariana Grande’s sweetener has no capitals, just like Taylor Swift’s folklore. While Beyoncé’s 2022 album BREAK MY SOUL is in ALL CAPS! Just another stylistic observation which really messes with my desire to categorise and standardise all my music.

    I do like the idea of the Four Tops as "four top guys" though.
    Last edited by TomatoTom123; 12-02-2022 at 06:53 AM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by carlo View Post
    I know they're not a Motown act, but I didn't realize until 10 years ago that the Carpenters are technically called "Carpenters". Makes sense, since the "The" prefix has never been featured on any of their album covers...yet it took me this long to realize.
    Similarly, I remember my older sister angrily upbraiding me when we were younger that "it is not 'THE Tavares'...it's just 'Tavares.'"

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by sansradio View Post
    Similarly, I remember my older sister angrily upbraiding me when we were younger that "it is not 'THE Tavares'...it's just 'Tavares.'"
    How funny is THAT? Because I was actually thinking [[the) Tavares was one of the few groups that was still using a "the" with their name! So there definitely seems to be something about the hipper kids of the day turning away from "the."

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by TomatoTom123 View Post
    I think this is an interesting observation jobu and one that I have also noticed before. To me, it seems something of a combination of what works better with the group’s name, and as WaitingWatching says, what is/was fashionable.

    In recent years, artists have also released albums that are stylised in upper or lower case text. Ariana Grande’s sweetener has no capitals, just like Taylor Swift’s folklore. While Beyoncé’s 2022 album BREAK MY SOUL is in ALL CAPS! Just another stylistic observation which really messes with my desire to categorise and standardise all my music.

    I do like the idea of the Four Tops as "four top guys" though.
    You're opening a door to another avenue of what they now call branding. The use of ALL CAPS or all lowercase is definitely a thing. Whether a stylistic choice or deliberate design. I seem to recall a band in somewhat recent years that always had their name on lowercase letters, no matter where it appeared. This is why I'm infinitely interested in design.

  19. #19
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    Another Motown group to drop "The" from their group name was RUSTIX -- a white group from Rochester, NY, on the Rare Earth label. [[BTW, still patiently waiting for a CD release of their first LP, "Bedlam".

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