Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Motown and the Movies


Arturo
 Share

Recommended Posts

One of the most successful independent record labels of the 60s and beyond, Berry Gordy's baby was not being hyperbolic when it advertises itself as "The Sound of Young America". With a family of labels and some of the biggest selling artists of its day, Gordy tried to groom and steer his stars to appeal to everyone, but especially the white supper club crowd, which he felt denoted the ultimate in respectability.

 

Along those lines, Gordy had long term plans to expand into film. He started early, with some of his artists featured in the seminal concert film, THE TAMMI SHOW (1965), or The Supremes doing HDH numbers for a beach movie or one called THE HAPPENING (1967); it's title song is perhaps the only Supremes hit I dislike.

 

Later, in the 70s, Gordy moved his operation to LA, in order to be near the Hollywood establishment, and became actively involved in moviemaking. He started with a bang, LADY SINGS THE BLUES, but despite some successes over the years, he never had the same impact on movies as he did on music.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the 80's Motown made a film called the Last Dragon with former Prince "associate" Vanity, (formerly of Vanity 6, her singing wasn't really all there.) I haven't seen it.

 

I know Berry Gordy is still with us but I don't know if Motown is still a going concern, (in 2014 the music industry is very different and record companies are close to being irrelevelent.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the mid or late 90s, I believe, Gordy sold a majority share of the company to Universal Records. They release Motown product, usually repackaging of their artists' hits. There is an online service called Motown Select, which has limited numbered releases featuring rare, or in many cases, never before released music recorded during Motown's heyday.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the post Jake. Many Motown records, as records of most popular groups pre~Beatles, have been dismissed as a couple of hits and the rest filler. But if you are into the Motown sojnd, many of these records are quite good. The "filler" often consisted of songs that may have contenders for singles, but outvoted in the company's infamous "Quality Control" weekly meetings. So often the material is very good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

>Later, in the 70s, Gordy moved his operation to LA, in order to be near the Hollywood establishment, and became actively involved in moviemaking. He started with a bang, LADY SINGS THE BLUES, but despite some successes over the years, he never had the same impact on movies as he did on music.

 

Motown's most notable contribution to film was producing, believe it or not, the TV miniseries Lonesome Dove

 

Those interested in the Motown sound should check out the documentary Standing In The Shadows Of Motown, which profiles The Funk Brothers, the legendary session band who play on almost all the label's hits.

 

rHz2Nb4.jpg

 

2kn2c4t.jpg

 

 

I know of two other documentaries about rock and roll session musicians of the '60s.

 

This one deals with the Alabama band behind many great soul classics.

 

NxtWAGj.jpg

 

IxZyCGL.jpg

 

 

This film profiles the L.A. musicians who played on hits by the Beach Boys, The Monkees, and many others

 

phvjVC0.jpg

 

BdnwQfv.jpg

 

Unfortunately TWC has never been officially released due to apparently insoluble problems with music rights clearances. It can be found online, if you know where to look.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

> Those interested in the Motown sound should check out the documentary *Standing In The Shadows Of Motown*, which profiles The Funk Brothers, the legendary session band who play on almost all the label's hits.

 

TCM actually showed this back in April 2010 as part of a night of movies including and/or inspired by the Motown Sound, for the 50th anniversary of the studio (date variable depending upon how you wish to date the founding):

 

*Thank God It's Friday* at 8:00 PM;

*Standing in the Shadows of Motown* at 10:00 PM

*Lady Sings the Blues* at midnight*;

*The Big Chill* at 2:30 AM;

*Norman... Is that You* at 4:30 AM

 

It's too bad they apparently couldn't get the rights to *Mahogany* to go in the spot taken by the overrated *Big Chill*.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the post Jake. Many Motown records, as records of most popular groups pre~Beatles, have been dismissed as a couple of hits and the rest filler. But if you are into the Motown sound, many of these records are quite good. The "filler" often consisted of songs that may have contenders for singles, but outvoted in the company's infamous "Quality Control" weekly meetings. So often the material is very good.

 

You couldn't be more right about that. I bought nearly every Motown/Tamla/Gordy/Soul 45 from the early 60's through the mid-60's, and spent almost as much time on B-side songs like "I'm In Love Again" (The Supremes), "Goddess of Love" (The Marvelettes), "Hot Cha" (Jr. Walker & the All-Stars), "I Truly, Truly Believe" (The Tempts), and "Who's Lovin' You? (The Miracles) as I did playing the A-sides.

 

If anyone wants to savor what may be the best Motown album (actually Tamla) ever produced, they should get a hold of this double LP from 1965:

 

miracles_from_the_beginning.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Richard,

 

Denny Tedesco has been hard at work at crowdsourcing for *The Wrecking Crew*. He's had success with it as well and the latest I read this past summer/fall either at LA Observed or the Hollywood Reporter (I think) was that with the latest funds raised he was hard at work at clearing the music and having some success.

 

Here's hoping!

 

I've been following this story for a few years and would very much like to see this film on the big screen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Speaking of Motown, I've been talking a lot about Teena Marie to my acquaintances lately, and amazed that many are not familiar with her. She has got to be, for whatever reason, the most underrated recording artist in history. Not only was she a great performing talent, but she wrote a lot of her own stuff.......R.I.P., Lady T.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With all this discussion of Motown and '60s soul and r &b, I'm surprised no one has as yet mentioned that other great soul music recording centre that thrived during that era, Muscle Shoals.

 

Attached to the bigger Atlantic label (run by the great Ahmet Ertegun), Muscle Shoals Sound Studio thrived for many years and produced such soul legends as Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, and the Staples Singers.

 

Also affiliated with Atlantic Records was the Stax label, which featured the incomparable Booker T and the MGs.

 

Here's a pic of the original Muscle Shoals building. Like a lot of those kinds of places, it's pretty unprepossessing-looking.

 

muscle-shoals.jpg

 

Of course, Stax and Muscle Shoal recordings are associated more with the 70s than the 60s.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Memphis soul of the 60s was always considered grittier, and "the real thing" in comparison to Berry Gordy's approach over at Motown, where anything too funky was usually not released, and he groomed his stars to be able to perform for white supper club audiences.

 

After the acceptance of the Mussel Shoals artists with everyone, and especially after Aretha's astonishing success in 1967, plus everything that was happening in the streets by that time, Motown belatedly started to change with the times; they were suddenely in danger of looking and sounding dated, even reactionary. Norman Whitfield started sounding more psychedelic in his productions for the Temptations and others; The Supremes tried for relevance singing about a love child wearing cutoffs and afro wigs, instead of their floor length gowns. Martha Reeves started sounding just like Aretha, and some of her recordings sound like the Mussles Shoals musicians are providing backup.

 

 

My all time favorite Memphis artist, and one of my all time favorite artists ever, is Al Green. That voice over the backing tracks is sublime. But as you said regarding Stax, his story belongs in the 70s.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Uh, there was NO greater soul music center in the late '60s and '70s than Philly, with Philly International records headed by Gamble and Huff, and also the productions of Thom Bell. The list of artists that were mainstays or who passed through was endless........The O'Jays, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, The Trammps, The Stylistics, The Spinners, Lou Rawls, The Three Degrees, Billy Paul, Jean Carne, the Delphonics, The Intruders, The Three Degrees, Teddy Pendergrass, Blue Magic, McFadden and Whitehead, and on and on.

 

Edited by: finance on Mar 26, 2014 5:19 PM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Last year a documentary was released called Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me. It was about the great lost 70's band Big Star. They weren't a soul band, but were from Memphis and signed to Ardent which a subsidiary of Stax. only managed to get out three records,

but they have a huge influence over a lot of music. I recommend this film highly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used to like to joke that "Philly soul" was an oxymoron. But I gotta admit, there were some good stuff coming out of there occasionally. It occured to me that most of the '70's stuff from Philly was pretty much like Motown insofar as having JUST enough soul for "crossover" appeal, but not TOO much to chase away whitey. The thing was, whitey LOVED the "real deal", as one put it. At any rate, when one considers what passes as "soul" today, Philly wasn't really all that bad.

 

Sepiatone

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I loves me my Philly Soul. Philadelphia International took the Motown template as their MO, and by the 70s,, they were giving Motown serious competition. Before mid decade, they were outdoing them in terms of crossover hits on the pop chart.

 

Yes, the Philly sound was one of the main ingredients of the mid to late 70s Disco sound. Many early and mid 70s Philly Soul songs sound like.proto disco, and were played as one of the mainstays at.the early discos sprouting in the cities.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not going to post them, but listen to the Philly discoey "This Time Baby" by Jackie Moore, "Hot Shot", by Karen Young, and "Was That All it Was" by Jean Carne, and tell me you don't like them.....These three are definitely high-hanging fruit.

 

Edited by: finance on Mar 27, 2014 4:04 PM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In case their are any aspiring documentary filmmakers out there in search of a subject... While Muscle Shoals, The Funk Brothers, and The Wrecking Crew have had films made about them, I don't know of one about Nashville's A Team. Though there was a hit song about them, The Lovin' Spoonful's "Nashville Cats".

 

Grady Martin played the epochal distorted guitar on "The Train Kept-a-Rollin'" by Johnny Burnette and The Rock & Roll Trio (1956)

 

RCtlyEW.jpg

 

 

Other Nashville Cats included Bob Moore (bass), Buddy Harman (drums), Hank Garland, Chet Atkins, Harold Bradley (guitar), Hargus ?Pig? Robbins (keyboards), Floyd Kramer (piano), Pete Drake (steel guitar), and Charlie McCoy (harmonica):

 

MmBq70A.jpg

 

 

A website on The A Team maintained by bassist Bob Moore.

http://www.nashvillesound.net/index.htm

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

© 2022 Turner Classic Movies Inc. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...