After a brace of releases last month, September sees less quantity but no less quality. Motor City: The Motown Vocal Group Sound kicks off proceedings, a musical and aesthetic accompaniment of sorts to Please Mr Disc Jockey. Again an immaculately retro artwork design decorates a compilation which focuses on the flourishing male vocal group sound of the 50s and early 60s. But this time instead of Atlantic’s New York heartland the source is Detroit, at a time of considerable industrial activity and cultural significance. Vigour in the city’s famous car plants was mirrored in the early triumphs of Berry Gordy’s Tamla, Motown, Miracle, Gordy and Mel-O-Dy labels, outlets which would form a dynasty that would surpass even the likes of Atlantic, eventually generating more hits than any other independently owned record company in the world. The 3CD set, compiled by doo wop supremo Laurence Cane-Honeysett (compiler of Doo Wop, Doo Wop Revival and Doo Wop: The Rock & Roll Vocal Group Sound) is a fascinating and rewarding premise, both as a document of Motown’s beginnings and as a highly lustrous listen, featuring an all star coterie of doo wop’s finest, from The Miracles, The Temptations, The Contours and The Spinners to an abundant cast of unsung luminaries. The compilation has already been declared by Shindig! as “one of the most voluminous selections to date”, a set featuring “microscopic documents [which] are essential in this transient age”
Completing the month’s releases is a more direct sequel to a well loved instalment of key (and often underappreciated) recordings made by women from 1953 – 1962, an important period in the evolution of pop. More Lipstick, Powder & Paint: A Decade of Girls 1953 – 1962 is a diverse continuation of the first edition, with everything from country to R&B to easy listening accomodated among Austin Powell’s discerning selections. The 3CD set – featuring the likes of Aretha Franklin, Connie Francis, Helen Shapiro, Jackie De Shannon, Dionne Warwick, and Freda Payne and stellar groups like The Chordettes, The Andrews Sisters, The Shirelles, The Crystals, and Martha & The Vandellas – is another cause for revelatory revision, as the often male-dominated grand narrative of pop is reconsidered in light of these female vocal heroics. A compilation which, according to Record Collector, “will please many”.