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  1. #1
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    Motorcity: Soul Giants 4 CD Box Set: New Backgrounds

    SOUL GIANTS 4 CD BOX SET - ELEVATE RECORDS CDB ELV 1 : 1998

    50 Soul Classics from the 60s and 70s.....

    Many performed by the original legendary hit makers from the USA....

    - features exclusive, previously unreleased versions -


    A track-by-track review of the 'Soul Giants' box set, noting the differences between earlier released Motorcity titles and their later versions from 1995 with new backgrounds, many of which were included in this set.


    DISC 1
    :

    Track 1: Mary Wells - My Guy 3.25


    [Original Motorcity Version:
    Reference: Charly/Motorcity 'Keeping My Mind On Love' album.

    Track, also length, seem identical on all following additional references:

    Hot Productions: 'Very Best Of Mary Wells'
    Essential Gold 'Motor City Sings Smokey's Songbook'
    Down Town Dancing In The Streets Series - Vol 1: 'Million Sellers'
    Quality - Motor City Dance Party - Vol 2 : 'Love Dancin'

    A different arrangement from the Motown original. Intro lacks impact here. A light, skipping beat, with finger snaps. Addition of string sounds. Nice echo on background vocalists, who sing lines of lyrics, in contrast to 'call and answer' responses of Mary Wells' Motown original. A pleasant production, if lacking in the distinctive sound quality of the original hit version.]

    Soul Giants version 2.41:
    A shorter track length. A simple, stripped down production, in an attempt to emulate the hit version. No string sounds this time. Prominent organ, as with the Motown original. Drum, bass and piano seem basic computer generated sounds. Less echo used, and with lead and background vocals identical to the earlier Motorcity version.


    Track 2: The Contours - This Old Heart Of Mine 3.05

    [Original Motorcity version:
    Reference: Charly/Motorcity 'Flashback' album.

    The distinctively prominent drum, bass and piano of the Motown original are missing from the intro, which soon leads into standard Motorcity 'hammer hitting metal' drum sound. Track bounces along, rather than with the emphatic drive and rhythm of the Motown original, and with good vocals, although a less impassioned lead.]

    Soul Giants version 2.56 :

    Shorter, and with an intro which more effectively replicates the Motown original, albeit with a more mellow toned version. The sax is noticeably more prominent throughout than with the version above, with a different short solo in the middle break - and the string sound seems more sparingly used. A good attempt at having The Contours replicate the Motown original by the Isley Brothers, and quite a nice little track in its own right, without trying too hard to give it a 'Motorcity' sound.


    Track 3: Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - Heat Wave 4.00

    [Original Motorcity version:
    Reference: Object Enterprises 'This Is Soul-2' four CD set.

    As a get-up-and-dance track, this to me is excellent, but for the threat of a tick-tock computer drum sound. Even so, it gets away with it, and always makes me smile and move to the beat. A full production, string sounds, big echo, and surely the sweet, high harmonies of The Andantes on background vocals. In its own way, I love this as much as the original Motown version, with Martha still in enthusiastic and uninhibited voice - but more mature and controlled - riding the wall of 'instrumentation' sound and effortlessly powering her way through to the fade.]

    Soul Giants version 3.05:

    Shorter, with a solid drum and sax led intro. No string sounds. Same lead and background vocals, but with Martha's voice lower in the mix, and less echo. Prominent sax middle break. Additional drum work on the chorus.
    Last edited by westgrandboulevard; 03-12-2023 at 03:52 PM.

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    Track 4: The Velvelettes - Needle In A Haystack 3.21

    [Original Motorcity version:
    Reference: 'One Door Closes' album.

    Originally a Nightmare label release, with a brooding, word of warning introduction, leading into a track taken at slower tempo than the Motown original. Good lead vocal and background harmonies.The drum sound is steady, but rather lethargic, and lacking in vigour.


    Soul Giants version 2.20:

    A version very close in arrangement to the Motown original. Tempo is very spritely, indeed slightly faster than the Motown original. Apart from differences in degree of echo used, and percussive sounds like handclaps, this track with new background is generally a very close replication. The lead and background vocals are virtually identical to those heard on a recording made thirty years earlier.

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    I am a bit confused as to the reference to Martha's HEAT WAVE in the first post. Unless I'm mistaken, the version she recorded for Object Enterprises has no connection with Motorcity.

    In 1986, Martha released a cd on Object called THE COLLECTION. It contained remakes of her biggest hits as well as hits by others, like COME SEE ABOUT ME, I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE, and GOTTA SEE JANE. According to Martha, it was recorded in Nashville.

    Some of these recordings were also issued on the THIS IS SOUL set, along with other remakes by artists like Brook Benton and Sam Moore. Since this set was released in the late 80s, it would have predated the Motorcity project. I actually bought this set before I bought Martha's solo Object cd.

    Note: While I was in Europe in 1992 or 1993, I did see a THIS IS SOUL set that contained some Motorcity material, like the Vandellas' ANGEL IN DISGUISE.

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    Reese....

    It seems there were at least two 'This Is Soul' 4CD sets, both from Object.

    I don't have the first one.....black sleeve, and is shown on the insert with each disc in my set. Sounds like the one you have.

    And I also think it does include 'Heat Wave', but credited only to Martha. And so, I guess, is a different recording from the one I have quoted.

    The set I have is 'This Is Soul-2', from 1990.....title is shown in gold, on a white sleeve.

    'Heat Wave' is the very first track on Disc 1....and credited to Martha Reeves & The Vandellas.

    All the tracks in the 'This Is Soul-2' 4CD box set are Motorcity tracks [and also includes some Nightmare tracks]. They were about the first Motorcity tracks I ever bought. I bought the set at, or around the time that 'Footsteps' became a hit here in the UK. There was also a promo cassette included with the vinyl album.

    The name 'Motorcity' is not shown on this set. There is a tagline 'These tracks were re-recorded during a reunion of former Motown artists in Detroit and Los Angeles'

    'Angel In Disguise' is track 3, Disc 4.

    So I think the set that you saw in Europe, was the very same one I have here.......

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    Have just checked, Reese....

    You can find the version I have on Spotify...'Heatwave - Motorcity Version' - Martha Reeves & The Vandellas; 2010, 3.56......

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    Quote Originally Posted by westgrandboulevard View Post
    Reese....

    It seems there were at least two 'This Is Soul' 4CD sets, both from Object.

    I don't have the first one.....black sleeve, and is shown on the insert with each disc in my set. Sounds like the one you have.

    And I also think it does include 'Heat Wave', but credited only to Martha. And so, I guess, is a different recording from the one I have quoted.

    The set I have is 'This Is Soul-2', from 1990.....title is shown in gold, on a white sleeve.

    'Heat Wave' is the very first track on Disc 1....and credited to Martha Reeves & The Vandellas.

    All the tracks in the 'This Is Soul-2' 4CD box set are Motorcity tracks [and also includes some Nightmare tracks]. They were about the first Motorcity tracks I ever bought. I bought the set at, or around the time that 'Footsteps' became a hit here in the UK. There was also a promo cassette included with the vinyl album.

    The name 'Motorcity' is not shown on this set. There is a tagline 'These tracks were re-recorded during a reunion of former Motown artists in Detroit and Los Angeles'

    'Angel In Disguise' is track 3, Disc 4.

    So I think the set that you saw in Europe, was the very same one I have here.......
    Yes, I bought the original 4-cd set THIS IS SOUL at my local US Tower Records. It was issued in 1987. In addition to other Martha tracks, it also includes remakes by Fontella Bass, Percy Sledge, and others. Martha's tracks seem to be taken from her 1986 Object cd.

    When I was in Europe in the early 90s, I saw a different THIS IS SOUL, which as you described, had a white sleeve. I didn't end up buying it as I spent so much money on cds that I was running low on funds. I regret it as I haven't seen that set since.

    Note: I also have a German cd called THE GIRLS OF SOUL. It contains tracks from various Motorcity female artists, like Martha and the Vandellas, the Marvelettes, Sisters Love, etc.

    Sorry, I didn't mean to hijack the thread.
    Last edited by reese; 03-13-2023 at 05:23 PM.

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    No, you haven't hijacked the thread...Soulful Detroit is supposed to be a forum.....


    So, that will be 'The Girls Of Soul', Vol. 4 from the Down Town 'Dancing In The Streets' series...?

    Am holding a copy right now....I had all the volumes out earlier, to check something....

    So your copy is in German?

    Oh...and Discogs has 'This is Soul-2' sets for sale [the discs are also sometimes sold separately] ...but for about 15-30...and seems like no US sellers?

    But..there does seem to be a set on OnBuy.com, 3.73 including UK delivery [unbelievably cheap]...but am assuming you are in US....

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    Quote Originally Posted by westgrandboulevard View Post
    No, you haven't hijacked the thread...Soulful Detroit is supposed to be a forum.....


    So, that will be 'The Girls Of Soul', Vol. 4 from the Down Town 'Dancing In The Streets' series...?

    Am holding a copy right now....I had all the volumes out earlier, to check something....

    So your copy is in German?

    Oh...and Discogs has 'This is Soul-2' sets for sale [the discs are also sometimes sold separately] ...but for about 15-30...and seems like no US sellers?

    But..there does seem to be a set on OnBuy.com, 3.73 including UK delivery [unbelievably cheap]...but am assuming you are in US....
    THE GIRLS OF SOUL cd that I have only has the track ANGEL IN DISGUISE by the Vandellas. It was produced by Masters Records, Roermond/Holland. I guess the label is Flash and the catalog # is 8339-2.

    The cover has a Marvelettes photo with Kat, Ann, and Wanda. Plus an 80s era photo of Martha in concert.

    I ordered it from Amazon. I believe I did a search for ANGEL IN DISGUISE and it turned up.

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    Same company that made this one.....

    'Angel In Disguise' is Track 2. 16 tracks in all....

    Cover has Motorcity pics of The Marvelettes [including both Gladys & Wanda], Three Ounces Of Love, and Martha/Vandellas..

    Check it out on Discogs.....

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by westgrandboulevard View Post
    Same company that made this one.....

    'Angel In Disguise' is Track 2. 16 tracks in all....

    Cover has Motorcity pics of The Marvelettes [including both Gladys & Wanda], Three Ounces Of Love, and Martha/Vandellas..

    Check it out on Discogs.....
    Yes, looks like the same content but different covers.

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    Track 5: The Monitors - Tears Of A Clown 3.52

    [Original Motorcity version:
    Reference: 'Grazing In The Grass' album.

    A spoken intro, accompanied by close-harmonising vocals. The hard, knocking drum sound immediately after the intro seems too evident. The sparkly, piccolo sound of Motown original is largely missing - as is the bassoon - but good, full sound of brass and strings. This production would seem to be looking to capture the spirit of the UK single version, albeit with a different arrangement.]


    Soul Giants version: 2.51

    No spoken intro or harmonising vocals. Track more closely follows the Motown original, and especially the US single version, featuring the additional use of drums. Indeed, the drum sound on this version comes close to suggesting a drummer on a complete frolic of his own...! That said, it is a more authentic drum sound than on the first Motorcity version, even if the extra work does somewhat distract the ear from the overall tempo of the track.

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    Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    Yes, I bought the original 4-cd set THIS IS SOUL at my local US Tower Records. It was issued in 1987.

    Sorry, I didn't mean to hijack the thread.
    Thats my​ specialty!!!

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    Track 6: Barbara McNair - For Once In My Life 4.02

    Original Motorcity version:
    Reference: Best Of Motorcity Vol. 14

    A pedestrian 'knock knock' drum sound which makes the track feel stiff and awkward, and causes it to drag. The 'one, two, one, two' stomps overwhelm any sense of rhythm in the construction of the melody. Effective use of bass, strings and piano sounds. Spirited lead and female background vocals.

    Soul Giants version: 2.56

    A vast improvement. Surprisingly good. An effectively close match in production to the Stevie Wonder hit version. Different, and mixed background vocals. This production enables lead vocals to ring with much greater authority.

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    Great reviews West Grand.

    I really love "For Once In My Life" from Barbara McNair. Puts her in a new context and sounds great. As you say Stevie Wonder-ish in production - and that's just how I like it.

    And here it is, a real classic and fabulous Ian Levine production. Barbara never sounded better.

    https://www.google.com/search?client...id:2n_5pyx5kvs....
    Last edited by mysterysinger; 03-18-2023 at 03:16 PM.

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    And do you think the instrumentation on that track is all computer generated?

    If it is, then it is indeed really good. And which makes me wonder why it wasn't used in the first place?

    I have also often thought that some of the Nightmare tracks sound better than many of the Motorcity tracks - of which some, if not all, were apparently produced by using a Fairlight CMI.....

    And I need to check....Barbara's vocal should be the same on both versions.....it was supposedly only the backgrounds on the many of the Soul Giants tracks which were changed....
    Last edited by westgrandboulevard; 03-18-2023 at 08:18 PM.

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    Your reviews and especially your comparing the earlier versions to those on this box set inspired me to go out and find it. I found it on Amazon UK for a great price, only about $10! The shipping was only about five dollars to the US. I’m pretty sure this is the set, but I just wanted you to validate that. I am anxious to hear it, especially since you indicated that all the versions on the set were reworked without those completely mechanized backgrounds. Can’t wait to hear it. Thanks for bringing this music to our attention. You and Gary have really made discovering this music fun. I am absolutely amazed at how good the singers sound years after their glory years with Motown.

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    Last edited by kenneth; 03-19-2023 at 09:36 AM.

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    Hi Kenny,

    Sure, what you have ordered is indeed the set being discussed!

    Hope you enjoy it when it arrives. All are Motorcity tracks but, of the fifty included on it, not all have new backgrounds. But, I believe all of a batch of at least 34 tracks which received new backgrounds in 1995, are indeed included there.

    Of the remaining tracks, some you may know, but could still also include differences from those versions you know.

    And some, you may not even have heard yet.

    For the money, they will all make good listening, I would say.

    If you are able to add links from this set to the tracks when mentioned in posts on this thread from you, me, or any else - then go ahead!

    And there are still further Motorcity tracks which featured on later compilations, after receiving updated arrangements.

    When I get myself up to speed, I will post details here, or on one of the other Motorcity threads.

    I am attempting to slowly but steadily add posts to each of these current threads. This way, every time I or you, for example, send a new post, that thread then goes to the top of the new posts list.

    It's the only way of keeping them going, and receiving attention.....and it is the 'views' of threads which keep Soulful Detroit going...so 'win win' all round.

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    ....and P.S......

    The versions with new backgrounds on 'Soul Giants' are almost all of previous Motown recordings. And most are original Motown songs.

    Reworkings of Motorcity original songs are featured on other collections, as mentioned elsewhere.

    Something which interests me is that none of the tracks on this set are, IMO, totally better than the corresponding earlier Motorcity recording - or totally worse. There is something on all the earlier versions which would have enhanced these later ones, even if just a little...and vice versa.

    And there are indeed some tracks on 'Soul Giants where I do feel I largely prefer the earlier Motorcity version....but see what you think, when you get to hear them.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by westgrandboulevard View Post
    And I need to check....Barbara's vocal should be the same on both versions.....it was supposedly only the backgrounds on the many of the Soul Giants tracks which were changed....
    I would say this is the same vocal by Barbara on Soul Giants...but her intro on the earlier version is missing.

    Also missing is the latter part of that version, where she sings an extended lyrical refrain, before then leading into an additional verse, and which also involves a change of key. Barbara sounds like she is just about to start breaking out....but that rigid rhythm track was not about to let her ....
    Last edited by westgrandboulevard; 03-19-2023 at 12:57 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by westgrandboulevard View Post
    ....and P.S......

    The versions with new backgrounds on 'Soul Giants' are almost all of previous Motown recordings. And most are original Motown songs.

    Reworkings of Motorcity original songs are featured on other collections, as mentioned elsewhere.

    And there are indeed some tracks on 'Soul Giants where I do feel I largely prefer the earlier Motorcity version....but see what you think, when you get to hear them.
    Thanks, WGB! Glad to know I picked up the set you were reviewing. Honestly, it was so cheap even if it wasn't I would have probably enjoyed hearing some of the tracks but I'm mostly intrigued by the reworkings with more "organic" backgrounds. Amazon US had it but with a $48 price tag, so naturally I went for the "import."

    Originally, I had only bought the 2 Marvelettes albums as they are my all time favorite. I was happy to hear Wanda again, although her voice wasn't what it once was, it still had her distinctive sound and some of the songs were good such as "Holding On With Both Hands," one that comes to mind which I think had her on lead. But I was very disappointed by the Gladys-led tracks. Although her voice sounds absolutely fantastic and virtually indistinguishable from her years at Motown, the material was just so mediocre it wasn't worthy of her. I really wish someone had recorded more on her after she left the Marvelettes.

    I guess with Motorcity it's a hit-or-miss thing. Some of the tracks hit home, and others miss the mark. But it is fun hearing "new" music and I've come to appreciate more and more what Levine tried to do, even if he wasn't commercially and critically successful. If not for him, we'd have nothing in the can on most of these artists after their Motown years.

    Thanks again!

    K
    Last edited by kenneth; 03-19-2023 at 01:05 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mysterysinger View Post
    Barbara never sounded better.
    If there is one little touch in there which keeps it 'real' for me, it is that Barbara can be heard drawing breath at times.....and that seems to strike me as unusual....

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    But I was very disappointed by the Gladys-led tracks. Although her voice sounds absolutely fantastic and virtually indistinguishable from her years at Motown, the material was just so mediocre it wasn't worthy of her.
    I agree - and feel many of her tracks just need different arrangements to better showcase her vocals.

    'Very Best Of' has some really great vocals by Gladys, with songs which have much potential, but too often made dreary by the pedestrian instrumentation arrangements.

    That said, some of her leads do stand out to me.

    Have you discovered 'Don't Forget The Memories'....?

    Or, 'Secret Love Affair' - the version from the promotional cassette with several extended versions by various artists, and which does not feature that rigid drum sound which kills the usual version.

    Or, 'You're My Remedy', which took me by surprise, with some scat singing infused into her vocal...

    Or, 'We're Going To Stay In Love', with Gladys also heard double-tracked on background vocals....

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    Useful tip - on streaming services - I always use YouTube Music - the "Soul Giants" CDs are known as "Soul Anthems" Volumes 1 to 4. So you can hear all the tracks for free!

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    Track 7: Joe Stubbs - Just A Little Misunderstanding 4.02

    Original Motorcity version:
    Reference: 'Round And Round' album.


    It is always going to be difficult to replicate the unique, resonant Hitsville sounds of the piano, bass, drum and brass on the Motown original recording - Joe Stubbs' only lead vocal on a Contours' single. This production doesn't go all out to try, and skips along with a much lighter beat, just different enough to present an interesting alternative. The counterpart background vocals are still present, and may even be more complex than the original.

    Soul Giants version: 2.49

    A much more 'immediate' production, with a less processed quality to the sound. Production combines elements of the first Motorcity version with the Motown original. Far more punch, clearer vocal and percussive instrumentation. This production would still get people moving onto the dancefloor.
    Last edited by westgrandboulevard; 03-19-2023 at 03:42 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mysterysinger View Post
    Useful tip - on streaming services - I always use YouTube Music - the "Soul Giants" CDs are known as "Soul Anthems" Volumes 1 to 4. So you can hear all the tracks for free!
    Might encourage more reviews......

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    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by westgrandboulevard View Post
    And do you think the instrumentation on that track is all computer generated?

    If it is, then it is indeed really good. And which makes me wonder why it wasn't used in the first place?
    I had assumed that there was at least some proper instrumentation on Barbara's "For Once In My Life". The drum is electronic. But to be honest, when it sounds this good I'm not sure I care that much. Barbara still sounds as good to me as on her Motown recordings - which given the years apart is some feat. If you can hear her breathing - it's not surprising given that smoking lol

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    Track 8: Jean, Scherrie & Lynda of The Supremes - Stop! In The Name Of Love 4.20

    Original Motorcity version:
    Reference: Down Town: Dancing In The Streets: Million Sellers Vol. 1

    A different vocal arrangement from the Motown original, in particular during the intro of a production taken at slightly faster tempo. Lead vocal is more powerful, also more background vocal work than before. Song given a more orchestral setting, with string sounds. An upbeat, 'live performance' style in arrangement.

    Soul Giants version: 2.58

    Credited to 'Ladies Of The Supremes'. A less cluttered production, which far more closely follows the '60s single in structure. Background sounds feature higher treble, and lighter bass presence than in earlier Motorcity version, led by a prominent organ throughout, with some percussion sounds. Background vocals on both versions seem to strongly feature Scherrie, in addition to lead vocal. I am unsure if I hear Jean in all parts of the song; if she is indeed present, her voice does not seem clearly audible to me.

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