Saturday, January 05, 2008

Back to now

I notched up 50 years on this planet on New Year’s Eve. It’s enough to bring on a bout of reminiscing.

1971 was the year I really got into music. Perfectly synchronised with entering my teens. Until then it had always been jumpers for goalposts, conkers, and dens. Then, all of a sudden, record tokens made an appearance on my Christmas and birthday lists. With those record tokens I went to Boots (who would have thought then that in 2007 they would be using an obscure Ernie K Doe track from the beginning of the 70s to advertise their wares) and bought my first two proper albums. I say proper albums because I think I already had three albums by then – The Most Of Lulu, The Move’s Fire Brigade, and the 1970 FA Cup Final Chelsea v Leeds commentary. But two of those were cheap price MFP albums and the other was spoken word, so I claim they don’t really count – I know I’m straying close to geek territory when I say that.

As I said I bought two albums at the same time so it’s not really possible to say which qualifies as being first. I suppose the album listed first on the original receipt from the transaction would qualify, but as far as I know I no longer have it so I cannot tell you which was first. (I could argue that as one of these albums is a compilation it also doesn’t really count as a ‘proper’ album, but then I would really have pitched camp in the geeks world, and I don’t want to go there).

The two albums I bought sometime over the Christmas school holidays in 1971 were T.Rex’s “Electric Warrior” and “Motown Chartbusters Vol Six” and, of course, I still have them.

“Motown Chartbusters Vol Six” is the one that sports an early example of Roger Dean’s artwork with the bug on the front cover. Doing a quick bit of research just now I have learnt that this was a development from the Fly logo that he designed for Fly records. And which label was “Electric Warrior” released on? Yes, you guessed it – Fly. Well what do you know? Spooky.

On the back cover of “Motown Chartbusters Vol Six” are the words “Motortown Review 2008”. Why 2008 I wonder? A possibility is that 2008 in fact means 20th August and that was the original release date in 1971 August (the Chartbusters series were UK only issues reflecting for the most part hits as they happened in the UK as opposed to the US). Alternatively it could be the year 2008 and they randomly chose a year sometime in the future to support the futuristic theme of the cover art.

I’m going with the latter theory - Motown wanted to make a statement that they were staying ahead of the game in 1971. Thirty seven years ahead of the game to be precise.

So here we are, we have now reached 2008 and the music in the grooves of “Motown Chartbusters Vol Six” can fairly be said to have reached classic status. People will talk about the Sixties being the decade defined by The Beatles, but Motown was also at the pinnacle of popular music in the Sixties. Into the Seventies Lennon and McCartney became distinct also rans in my book but in a pop music world that was becoming increasingly complex and competitive Motown continued to produce music of the highest quality.

Then and now the general consensus is, I think, that Volume Three was the best ever Motown Chartbusters album. That one was chock full of massive hits and possibly reflected Motown at the peak of their powers. It also had that fantastic silver cover. But Volume Six runs it mighty close and as it made up my first ever purchase of ‘proper’ albums it has to get my vote as the best in the series.

If you were too young to pick up on Motown first time round (even I joined the party at least half way through) you should really go and pick up these compilations now. They are dirt cheap and every track is a gem. Start with Volumes Three, Four, Five, and Six and you can’t go wrong. Hell, why not buy the Volumes 1-6 box set.

After 1971 Motown and Soul music in general only had a few of the golden years left. They don’t make them like this anymore (sorry, but I am 50 so I am allowed to say things like that!).

The Supremes – Nathan Jones 1971
Four Tops – Simple Game 1971

And for those of you in the southern hemisphere (the rest of us can dream!):

The Temptations – It’s Summer 1971


Davy H said...

Happy bloody half century you old get! You kept quiet about that one! Shurely this is now an opportunity for a major 'Darcy - The Tracks Of My Years' retrospective??

whiteray said...

Add wishes from the Texas Gal and me to the pile! And davy's idea is a good one -- the best of each listening year?

affreuxthom said...

happy birtday

Darcy said...

Thanks guys. The Tracks Of My Years? It is a thought I've had before. One day maybe. Trouble is I don't know if I would be able to make my mind up. I try the Desert Island Discs game every now and then, and my selections differ every time. I'm sure yours would too.

vambo_roolz said...

I'm playing Diana Ross' 'All of My Life' which was on Vol 9, I know, but that song and the vol 6 artwork transports me back to my sisters' bedroom sometime in the mid seventies. Their bedroom walls were purple. And all their records were kept on a triangular style gold metal rack with little red plastic feet. Ahh....the memories. I eventually became a heavy rock fan but love Motown.