From R&B stompers and smooth pop ballads to psychedelic soul symphonies and gritty urban funk, Motown has given the world some of the most joyful music of the last 60 years…

45s

 

With its roster of towering talent, there’s little surprise that there have been some amazing albums released on the Motown label since its inception in 1959. Hitsville USA’s famed LP releases include Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and Let’s Get It On, Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book and Innervisions, Four Tops’ Reach Out, The Temptations’ Sky’s The Limit, Smokey Robinson’s Going To A Go-Go and Gladys Knight’s Nitty Gritty. This is as good as it gets on long-playing vinyl and we have all but scratched the surface.

However, for many the format that always makes the most sense for Motown’s music is the 45. The Motown 7″ single is pop music at its purest: gloriously ephemeral, full of instant emotion, goodtime fun and irresistible joy. It was pressed with the sole purpose of being danced and sung along to.

The early singles from 1959 to the very early 60s were a mix of gospel, blues, raw R&B and the occasional doo-wop rocker. Initial hits such as Please Mr. Postman by The Marvelettes and Shop Around by the Miracles blazed a glorious trail. Heavy-hitting artists such as Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye were waiting in the wings, too.

By 1963, Motown was beginning to accumulate a significant chart presence, and a year later the label broke through into the mainstream. Just how successful they had become is evidenced by the fact that during the 1960s the Motor City label released 535 singles in the USA. Of these, a staggering 357 were significant chart hits. The Supremes alone notched no less than 11 US number ones during that decade.

It was a similar story in the UK. The Beatles were early adopters and covered a clutch of Motown tracks on With The Beatles. Northern Soul collectors will know only too well that the early 45s were available on a number of pre-Tamla Motown labels in the UK; starting with London American Records (1960/61), Fontana (1961/62), Oriole American Records (1962/63) and, more substantially, Stateside Records (1963/65). Nab yourself a promo DJ copy of any of these and you could find that you’re quids in. Early US release 7″s on any of the many Motown imprint labels are equally desirable.

For our Essential selection, we’ve concentrated on UK releases and the prices of these vary from a fiver all the way through to £150. Whatever the value, truth is, spinning a classic Motown 45 will only make your world a better place.


Super Freak40 Super Freak
Rick James (1981)
In a previous incarnation, the not-so bashful James was a band mate of Neil Young in The Mynah Birds, but their musical paths took very different directions. One of Motown’s saucier releases (“She’s a very kinky girl/ The type you don’t take home to mother”), James described Superfreak as punk-funk. The song re-emerged when MC Hammer, bless his oversize trousers, borrowed bits of it for U Can’t Touch This.
Rarest 1981 Motown
£5


Machinegun

39 Machine Gun
Commodores (1974)
Before Lionel Richie and the ploddy ballads took centre stage, the Commodores were a bunch of hardcore funksters, as the band’s ass-shakin’ debut album for Motown testifies. The clavinet-driven instrumental title track was also the lead single. We’re reliably informed that state TV stations in Nigeria played the track every night for many years after the national anthem and before closing down.
Rarest  1974 Tamla Motown
£6


Heaven must have sent you38 Heaven Must Have Sent You
The Elgins (1966)
The Elgins went through many iterations (The Sensations, The Five Emeralds, The Downbeats) before signing on the dotted line at Motown. They were never the biggest of hitmakers, but the sheer presence of this Holland-Dozier-Holland floor-filling classic on a turntable is still guaranteed to cover the dancefloors of Northern Soul clubs across the UK in talcum powder.
Rarest 1966 Tamla Motown (DJ copy)
£120


Take Me In Your Arms

37 Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While)
Kim Weston (1965)
Along with It Takes Two, a duet with Marvin Gaye, this belting 45 was Detroit-born Kim Weston’s biggest Motown hit. The number showcased her stirring vocal talent, but Weston never experienced the breakout success of Diana Ross or Martha Reeves and left the label soon after due to a dispute over royalties.
Rarest 1965 Tamla Motown (DJ copy)
£100


Being without you36 Being With You
Smokey Robinson (1981)
Solo Smokey originally wrote this sweet mid-tempo ballad with the US songstress Kim Carnes in mind, but ended up recording it himself with her former producer. This swansong track is a nostalgic, grown-up take on the lovable innocence of his early work with the label. A number one in the UK, ironically enough, he was kept off the top spot in the US by the very same Kim Carnes with Bette Davis Eyes.
Rarest 1981 Motown
£5


Neither One Of Us

35 Neither One Of Us
Gladys Knight & The Pips (1973)
The Empress Of Soul’s legacy is mostly cast from the music she created on the Buddah label, but that’s not to say she didn’t make a mark at Motown. Her storming version of I Heard It Through The Grapevine challenges the Marvin Gaye version, while Neither One Of Us is a sublimely satisfying slice of sophisticated R&B.
Rarest 1973 Tamla Motown
£6


Where Did Our Love Go34 Where Did Our Love Go
The Supremes (1964)
After eight consecutive flops, the Detroit trio were cruelly dubbed the ‘No-Hit Supremes’, that’s until the runaway success of this Holland-Dozier-Holland banger. The song was initially passed on by The Marvelettes, which meant it was available for Ross, Wilson and Ballard to take it to the top spot. The foot-stomping background beat is actually the sound of two boards being thumped together.
Rarest 1964 Stateside (DJ copy)
£100


Every Little Bit Hurts

33 Every Little Bit Hurts
Brenda Holloway (1964)
Californian Brenda Holloway was Motown’s first West Coast signing and had her first smash hit with this Ed Cobb composition at the tender age of 16. Her raw, powerful vocals made a clear impression on this side of the pond, as the track was covered by the Small Faces and The Spencer Davis Group. She also supported The Beatles on their 1965 tour of the States.
Rarest 1964 Stateside (DJ copy)
£150


I Can’t Help Myself Four Tops (1965) Along with The Supremes and The Temptations, the Four Tops were Motown’s most consistent hitmakers, and the quartet of original members went unchanged for over four decades. Subtitled Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch, Holland-Dozier-Holland’s hopelessly romantic I Can’t Help Myself is a kissing cousin to The Supremes’ Where Did Our Love Go? sharing pretty much the same melody and chords throughout. Follow-up the archly-titled It’s The Same Old Song is also a close relative. Rarest 1965 Tamla Motown (DJ copy) £15032 I Can’t Help Myself
Four Tops (1965)
Along with The Supremes and The Temptations, the Four Tops were Motown’s most consistent hitmakers, and the quartet of original members went unchanged for over four decades. Subtitled Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch, Holland-Dozier-Holland’s hopelessly romantic I Can’t Help Myself is a kissing cousin to The Supremes’ Where Did Our Love Go? sharing pretty much the same melody and chords throughout. Follow-up the archly-titled It’s The Same Old Song is also a close relative.
Rarest  1965 Tamla Motown (DJ copy)
£150


Smiling Faces Sometimes The Undisputed Truth (1971) At the beginning of theA 70s, Norman Whitfield, one of Motown’s most adventurous producers, channelled his enthusiasm for psychedelic soul through The Undisputed Truth. These excursions into the waters of experimental pop produced one big hit, Smiling Faces Sometimes, an immaculately produced funky hymn to back-stabbing friends and paranoia. Rarest 1971 Tamla Motown £15

31 Smiling Faces Sometimes
The Undisputed Truth (1971)
At the beginning of theA 70s, Norman Whitfield, one of Motown’s most adventurous producers, channelled his enthusiasm for psychedelic soul through The Undisputed Truth. These excursions into the waters of experimental pop produced one big hit, Smiling Faces Sometimes, an immaculately produced funky hymn to back-stabbing friends and paranoia.
Rarest 1971 Tamla Motown
£15


Leaving Here Eddie Holland (1963) Eddie Holland had several minor hits as a solo performer before his debilitating stage fright forced him drop the mic and opt, instead, to become one third of Motown’s most prolific songwriting team. His most famous, most loved song travels along at a breakneck pace and has been faithfully covered by a number of rock bands including The Byrds, The Who, and was even the mighty Motörhead’s first single. Rarest 1963 Motown (US import) £3030 Leaving Here
Eddie Holland (1963)
Eddie Holland had several minor hits as a solo performer before his debilitating stage fright forced him drop the mic and opt, instead, to become one third of Motown’s most prolific songwriting team. His most famous, most loved song travels along at a breakneck pace and has been faithfully covered by a number of rock bands including The Byrds, The Who, and was even the mighty Motörhead’s first single.
Rarest  1963 Motown (US import)
£30


Finger Tips – Part II Little Stevie Wonder (1963) Motown’s second number one in the US ushered the 13-year-old Wonder’s prodigious genius onto the world stage. Part I was the conventional studio take, but it was the improvised live recording on the flipside that became the big smash. Little Stevie plays bongos and harmonica on the track, and improvises some lyrics, while both versions feature Marvin Gaye on drums. Rarest 1963 Oriole DJ copy £90

29 Finger Tips – Part II
Little Stevie Wonder (1963)
Motown’s second number one in the US ushered the 13-year-old Wonder’s prodigious genius onto the world stage. Part I was the conventional studio take, but it was the improvised live recording on the flipside that became the big smash. Little Stevie plays bongos and harmonica on the track, and improvises some lyrics, while both versions feature Marvin Gaye on drums.
Rarest  1963 Oriole DJ copy
£90


Let It Whip The Dazz Band (1982) Hailing from Cleveland, the outfit’s name is a portmanteau word for ‘danceable jazz’, but the rhythmic Ohioans can be all but forgiven for such a blatant crime against band naming conventions for the jubilant, exultant funkiness of their music. The irresistible synthesised dance groove of biggest hit Let It Whip won a Grammy for Best R&B track in 1983. Rarest 1982 Motown £528 Let It Whip
The Dazz Band (1982)
Hailing from Cleveland, the outfit’s name is a portmanteau word for ‘danceable jazz’, but the rhythmic Ohioans can be all but forgiven for such a blatant crime against band naming conventions for the jubilant, exultant funkiness of their music. The irresistible synthesised dance groove of biggest hit Let It Whip won a Grammy for Best R&B track in 1983.
Rarest 1982 Motown
£5


It’s A Shame The Motown Spinners (1970) Just the plain old Spinners in the US, the R&B vocal group were known as both The Detroit Spinners and The Motown Spinners in the UK. This was to avoid confusion with British folkies, yep, you guessed it, The Spinners. The impossibly catchy It’s A Shame was co-written and produced by Stevie Wonder; it was the first time he’d sat behind the controls for another act. Rarest 1970 Tamla Motown £8

27 It’s A Shame
The Motown Spinners (1970)
Just the plain old Spinners in the US, the R&B vocal group were known as both The Detroit Spinners and The Motown Spinners in the UK. This was to avoid confusion with British folkies, yep, you guessed it, The Spinners. The impossibly catchy It’s A Shame was co-written and produced by Stevie Wonder; it was the first time he’d sat behind the controls for another act.
Rarest 1970 Tamla Motown
£8


Indiana Wants Me R. Dean Taylor (1970) Released originally on Motown’s rock-orientated imprint Rare Earth, the Canadian singer-songwriter’s melancholic magnum opus was a Top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Not your typical Hitsville fare, Richard Dean Taylor was inspired to write the radio-friendly murder ballad after watching the movie Bonnie and Clyde. He also charted in the UK with the not-at-all spooky There’s A Ghost In My House (later given the cover treatment by The Fall). Rarest 1970 Tamla Motown £1026 Indiana Wants Me
R. Dean Taylor (1970)
Released originally on Motown’s rock-orientated imprint Rare Earth, the Canadian singer-songwriter’s melancholic magnum opus was a Top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Not your typical Hitsville fare, Richard Dean Taylor was inspired to write the radio-friendly murder ballad after watching the movie Bonnie and Clyde. He also charted in the UK with the not-at-all spooky There’s A Ghost In My House (later given the cover treatment by The Fall).
Rarest  1970 Tamla Motown
£10


The Night Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons (1975) No self-respecting Northern Soul night is complete without at least one spin of this atmospheric floor-filler. The original Jersey boys’ relationship with Motown, and specifically imprint MoWest, was disastrous. The Night was originally only released as a single in Germany and the Netherlands, but was reissued in the UK in 1975, where it peaked at number seven in the charts. Rarest: 1975 MoWest £80-£90

25 The Night
Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons (1975)
No self-respecting Northern Soul night is complete without at least one spin of this atmospheric floor-filler. The original Jersey boys’ relationship with Motown, and specifically imprint MoWest, was disastrous. The Night was originally only released as a single in Germany and the Netherlands, but was reissued in the UK in 1975, where it peaked at number seven in the charts.
Rarest 1975 MoWest
£80-£90


Ain’t No Mountain High Enough Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (1967) Dusty Springfield was desperate to record this Ashford and Simpson composition, but the songwriting pair held it back as they regarded it as their calling card to the Motown label. It proved to be a shrewd move, with Marvin Gaye and the tragic Tammi Terrell recording the definitive version. Terrell died of a brain tumour aged just 24. Diana Ross revived the song in 1970. Rarest 1967 Tamla Motown (DJ copy) £8024 Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (1967)
Dusty Springfield was desperate to record this Ashford and Simpson composition, but the songwriting pair held it back as they regarded it as their calling card to the Motown label. It proved to be a shrewd move, with Marvin Gaye and the tragic Tammi Terrell recording the definitive version. Terrell died of a brain tumour aged just 24. Diana Ross revived the song in 1970.
Rarest 1967 Tamla Motown (DJ copy)
£80


Love Hangover Diana Ross (1976) Initially, the First Lady of Motown believed herself to be operating on a much higher plane than disco and was reportedly initially very reluctant to commit this soaring classic of the genre to vinyl. However, upon release its commercial and critical success persuaded Ross to go full-on disco diva. Scottish post-punk duo the Associates had a minor hit with a cover in 1982. Rarest 1976 Tamla Motown £5

23 Love Hangover
Diana Ross (1976)
Initially, the First Lady of Motown believed herself to be operating on a much higher plane than disco and was reportedly initially very reluctant to commit this soaring classic of the genre to vinyl. However, upon release its commercial and critical success persuaded Ross to go full-on disco diva. Scottish post-punk duo the Associates had a minor hit with a cover in 1982.
Rarest  1976 Tamla Motown
£5

 


Shotgun Junior Walker & The All-Stars (1965) Tenor saxophonist Walker’s (real name Autry DeWalt II) rough and ready R&B was inspired by jump blues and contrasts starkly with Motown’s smoothly polished trademark product. Yet on tracks such as Shotgun, his Berry Gordy-produced signature tune, the soulful groove was every bit as irresistible. Walker made his vocal debut on Shotgun, as the booked session singer was a no-show. Rarest 1965 Tamla Motown (DJ copy) £8022 Shotgun
Junior Walker & The All-Stars (1965)
Tenor saxophonist Walker’s (real name Autry DeWalt II) rough and ready R&B was inspired by jump blues and contrasts starkly with Motown’s smoothly polished trademark product. Yet on tracks such as Shotgun, his Berry Gordy-produced signature tune, the soulful groove was every bit as irresistible. Walker made his vocal debut on Shotgun, as the booked session singer was a no-show.
Rarest 1965 Tamla Motown (DJ copy)
£80


Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone The Temptations (1972) The original version of the Whitfield-Strong composition was recorded by psychedelic soulsters The Undisputed Truth, but failed to make an impression on the charts. The Temptations, who turned it into an enduring soul classic, were not at all keen on it, as the track relied more on the funky instrumentation than it did their trademark vocals. It was to prove to be the band’s last hurrah. Rarest 1973 Tamla Motown £5

21 Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone
The Temptations (1972)
The original version of the Whitfield-Strong composition was recorded by psychedelic soulsters The Undisputed Truth, but failed to make an impression on the charts. The Temptations, who turned it into an enduring soul classic, were not at all keen on it, as the track relied more on the funky instrumentation than it did their trademark vocals. It was to prove to be the band’s last hurrah.
Rarest 1973 Tamla Motown
£5


This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You) The Isley Brothers (1966) The Isley Brothers’ only major hit during a short stay at Motown was a Holland-Dozier-Holland classic that covered the holy trinity of Motor City emotions, those of loss, devastation and heartbreak. In 1968, the group left Motown to record on their own label, T-Neck Records. Motown aficionado Rod Stewart had a number four hit with the song in 1975. Rarest 1966 Tamla Motown (DJ copy) £9020 This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)
The Isley Brothers (1966)
The Isley Brothers’ only major hit during a short stay at Motown was a Holland-Dozier-Holland classic that covered the holy trinity of Motor City emotions, those of loss, devastation and heartbreak. In 1968, the group left Motown to record on their own label, T-Neck Records. Motown aficionado Rod Stewart had a number four hit with the song in 1975.
Rarest 1966 Tamla Motown (DJ copy)
£90

 


Baby Love The Supremes (1964) The Supremes were the first Motown act to reach the number one spot in the UK with this quintessential Holland-Dozier-Holland foot-stomper. The song’s trademark ‘ooh-ooh-oooh-oooooh’ was conspicuously absent on the first version and added later at Berry Gordy’s shrewd insistence. It was relieved of its top placing by The Rolling Stones and Little Red Rooster. Rarest 1964 Stateside (DJ copy) £85

19 Baby Love
The Supremes (1964)
The Supremes were the first Motown act to reach the number one spot in the UK with this quintessential Holland-Dozier-Holland foot-stomper. The song’s trademark ‘ooh-ooh-oooh-oooooh’ was conspicuously absent on the first version and added later at Berry Gordy’s shrewd insistence. It was relieved of its top placing by The Rolling Stones and Little Red Rooster.
Rarest 1964 Stateside (DJ copy)
£85

 


What Becomes of the Brokenhearted Jimmy Ruffin (1966) Jimmy was the older brother of The Temptations’ David Ruffin. He had his biggest hit for the Motown imprint Soul in 1966 with a song initially intended for The Spinners. The sorrowful ballad recalls the anguish that befalls the broken-hearted, who had love that’s now departed. Such is the track’s popularity in the UK, it managed to break into the Top 10 twice (1966 and 1974). Rarest 1966 Tamla Motown (DJ copy) £8518 What Becomes of the Brokenhearted
Jimmy Ruffin (1966)
Jimmy was the older brother of The Temptations’ David Ruffin. He had his biggest hit for the Motown imprint Soul in 1966 with a song initially intended for The Spinners. The sorrowful ballad recalls the anguish that befalls the broken-hearted, who had love that’s now departed. Such is the track’s popularity in the UK, it managed to break into the Top 10 twice (1966 and 1974).
Rarest 1966 Tamla Motown (DJ copy)
£85

 


Heat Wave Martha & the Vandellas (1963) Martha Reeves famously started as a secretary at the label’s head office but relinquished the Tippex to front The Vandellas. Apart from being a terrific dance cut, Holland-Dozier-Holland’s Heat Wave is also of note as one of the earliest songs to encapsulate the quintessential Motown Sound. The Jam covered the track badly on Setting Sons in 1979. Rarest Stateside (DJ copy) £150

17 Heat Wave
Martha & the Vandellas (1963)
Martha Reeves famously started as a secretary at the label’s head office but relinquished the Tippex to front The Vandellas. Apart from being a terrific dance cut, Holland-Dozier-Holland’s Heat Wave is also of note as one of the earliest songs to encapsulate the quintessential Motown Sound. The Jam covered the track badly on Setting Sons in 1979.
Rarest Stateside (DJ copy)
£150


Reach Out I’ll Be There Four Tops (1966) Motown’s second UK chart topper was written and produced by the label’s main production team, Holland-Dozier-Holland. For Reach Out, they instructed the much-revered vocalist Levi Stubbs to sing like Bob Dylan on Like A Rolling Stone. The band recorded the track in two takes and wrongly assumed it was just a filler album track. Berry Gordy had other ideas and the rest, as they say, is history. Rarest 1966 Tamla Motown (DJ copy) £10016 Reach Out I’ll Be There
Four Tops (1966)
Motown’s second UK chart topper was written and produced by the label’s main production team, Holland-Dozier-Holland. For Reach Out, they instructed the much-revered vocalist Levi Stubbs to sing like Bob Dylan on Like A Rolling Stone. The band recorded the track in two takes and wrongly assumed it was just a filler album track. Berry Gordy had other ideas and the rest, as they say, is history.
Rarest 1966 Tamla Motown (DJ copy)
£100

 


Ain’t Too Proud To Beg The Temptations (1966) This Whitfield/Holland co-write was a big hit for The Temptations. The track was originally marked as the lead single from the Gettin’ Ready album, but fell foul of record company politics. Upon its eventual release, the 45 proved to be a smash. It was backed by You’ll Lose A Precious Love, which is misspelt on early collectable copies as ‘Previous’. Rarest 1966 Tamla Motown (DJ copy, spelt ‘Previous’) £150

15 Ain’t Too Proud To Beg
The Temptations (1966)
This Whitfield/Holland co-write was a big hit for The Temptations. The track was originally marked as the lead single from the Gettin’ Ready album, but fell foul of record company politics. Upon its eventual release, the 45 proved to be a smash. It was backed by You’ll Lose A Precious Love, which is misspelt on early collectable copies as ‘Previous’.
Rarest 1966 Tamla Motown (DJ copy, spelt ‘Previous’)
£150

 


I Want You Back The Jackson 5 (1969) The first of four quick-fire back-to-back hits for the five Jackson brothers (the others being ABC, The Love You Save and I’ll Be There), I Want You Back is an utterly joyous slice of proto-funk. Young Michael’s vocal is inspired and the track’s incredible chord progression is regarded as one of the greatest in pop. Unsurprisingly, it has been sampled to within an inch of its life by various hip-hop artists with a good ear. It still sounds as fresh as a small grassland plant today. Rarest 1969 Tamla Motown £814 I Want You Back
The Jackson 5 (1969)
The first of four quick-fire back-to-back hits for the five Jackson brothers (the others being ABC, The Love You Save and I’ll Be There), I Want You Back is an utterly joyous slice of proto-funk. Young Michael’s vocal is inspired and the track’s incredible chord progression is regarded as one of the greatest in pop. Unsurprisingly, it has been sampled to within an inch of its life by various hip-hop artists with a good ear. It still sounds as fresh as a small grassland plant today.
Rarest 1969 Tamla Motown
£8


Money (That’s What I Want) Barrett Strong (1959) One of Motown’s landmark hits, the best things in life may be free but the hard cash earned by Barrett Strong’s howling R&B classic was pivotal in providing the early capital Berry Gordy needed to expand his recording operation. It would prove to be Strong’s only major hit as a performing artist, but he collaborated on any number of the label’s greatest hits as a lyricist. It was released on the London American Recordings label in the UK. Rarest 1960 London £80

13 Money (That’s What I Want)
Barrett Strong (1959)
One of Motown’s landmark hits, the best things in life may be free but the hard cash earned by Barrett Strong’s howling R&B classic was pivotal in providing the early capital Berry Gordy needed to expand his recording operation. It would prove to be Strong’s only major hit as a performing artist, but he collaborated on any number of the label’s greatest hits as a lyricist. It was released on the London American Recordings label in the UK.
Rarest 1960 London
£80

 


Please Mr. Postman The Marvelettes (1961) The song itself is a heartfelt plea from a young girl to her local postie to deliver a letter (‘de sooner, de better’) that she’s been waiting on from her boyfriend. This everyday tale of postal communication was an early smash hit and holds a special place in the Motown Hall of Fame, as it was the label’s first Billboard number one. Listen closely for a 22-year-old Marvin Gaye, who sat in on drums for the original recording. Rarest 1961 Fontana £5512 Please Mr. Postman
The Marvelettes (1961)
The song itself is a heartfelt plea from a young girl to her local postie to deliver a letter (‘de sooner, de better’) that she’s been waiting on from her boyfriend. This everyday tale of postal communication was an early smash hit and holds a special place in the Motown Hall of Fame, as it was the label’s first Billboard number one. Listen closely for a 22-year-old Marvin Gaye, who sat in on drums for the original recording.
Rarest 1961 Fontana
£55


My Girl The Temptations (1964) Songwriter Smokey Robinson originally planned to record this track with his group The Miracles, but The Temptations begged him (needless to say, they weren’t too proud) to let them have it. It was the first time that David Ruffin had taken lead vocal, a decision validated by the US number 1 spot. Somewhat surprisingly, the UK was still not catching on, as the classic love song inexplicably peaked at a lowly number 43. Rarest 1965 Stateside (DJ copy) £100

11 My Girl
The Temptations (1964)
Songwriter Smokey Robinson originally planned to record this track with his group The Miracles, but The Temptations begged him (needless to say, they weren’t too proud) to let them have it.
It was the first time that David Ruffin had taken lead vocal, a decision validated by the US number 1 spot. Somewhat surprisingly, the UK was still not catching on, as the classic love song inexplicably peaked at a lowly number 43.
Rarest 1965 Stateside (DJ copy)
£100

 


Do You Love Me The Contours (1962) Originally, Berry Gordy Jr had written this early all-action rock ’n’ roller for The Temptations but, as the story goes, they missed the recording session and it was offered to The Contours instead. It was the band’s only Top 40 hit, a feat they achieved twice when the song was reissued in 1988 due to a fresh wave of re-popularity created by its inclusion on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. Rarest 1962 Oriole (DJ copy) £10010 Do You Love Me
The Contours (1962)
Originally, Berry Gordy Jr had written this early all-action rock ’n’ roller for The Temptations but, as the story goes, they missed the recording session and it was offered to The Contours instead. It was the band’s only Top 40 hit, a feat they achieved twice when the song was reissued in 1988 due to a fresh wave of re-popularity created by its inclusion on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.
Rarest 1962 Oriole (DJ copy)
£100

 

 


What’s Going On Marvin Gaye (1971) Affected by letters his brother was sending him back from Vietnam, Marvin Gaye was determined to “write songs that would reach the souls of people”. And in doing so, he dismantled Motown’s pop formula much to the annoyance of Berry Gordy, who took an instant dislike to the song. Gaye stood his ground, threatening to leave the label unless What’s Going On was released as a single. Marvin got his way. Rarest 1971 Tamla Motown (DJ copy) £50

 9 What’s Going On
Marvin Gaye (1971)
Affected by letters his brother was sending him back from Vietnam, Marvin Gaye was determined to “write songs that would reach the souls of people”. And in doing so, he dismantled Motown’s pop formula much to the annoyance of Berry Gordy, who took an instant dislike to the song. Gaye stood his ground, threatening to leave the label unless What’s Going On was released as a single. Marvin got his way.
Rarest 1971 Tamla Motown (DJ copy)
£50

 


Shop Around The Miracles (1960) It took master craftsman Smokey Robinson in the region of 20 minutes to bash out Motown’s first million-selling hit record, with Berry Gordy earning a co-write for his up-tempo rearrangement. Despite the song’s unreconstructed advice given out from mother to son (‘Try to get yourself a bargain son/ Don’t be sold on the very first one’), Shop Around was also the first Motown record to be released in the UK on Decca Records’ London label. Rarest 1961 London £908 Shop Around
The Miracles (1960)
It took master craftsman Smokey Robinson in the region of 20 minutes to bash out Motown’s first million-selling hit record,  with Berry Gordy earning a co-write for his up-tempo rearrangement. Despite the song’s unreconstructed advice given out from mother to son (‘Try to get yourself a bargain son/ Don’t be sold on the very first one’), Shop Around was also the first Motown record to be released in the UK on Decca Records’ London label.
Rarest 1961 London
£90

 


War Edwin Starr (1970) War’s anti-Vietnam message was thought to be too overtly political for The Temptations, and so was given to Northern Soul supremo Starr instead. Far from being good for absolutely nothing, the single remains a cultural milestone. Starr followed up his landmark single in 1971 with the not-so politically-conscious Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On. Starr’s classic stomper 25 Miles (1968) is still guaranteed to fill floors. Rarest 1970 Tamla Motown £8

7 War
Edwin Starr (1970)
War’s anti-Vietnam message was thought to be too overtly political for The Temptations, and so was given to Northern Soul supremo Starr instead. Far from being good for absolutely nothing, the single remains a cultural milestone. Starr followed up his landmark single in 1971 with the not-so politically-conscious Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On. Starr’s classic stomper 25 Miles (1968) is still guaranteed to fill floors.
Rarest 1970 Tamla Motown
£8

 


My Guy Mary Wells (1964) Detroit native Mary Wells was the label’s first solo female superstar, and her heartfelt ode to one-man devotion (‘No muscle-bound man could take my hand from my guy/ No handsome face could ever take the place of my guy’) was penned by Smokey Robinson, who, never one to let a good idea go to waste, also wrote My Girl for The Temptations. My Guy was an early Tamla hit in the UK, peaking at number five in June 1964. Rarest 1964 Stateside (DJ copy) £1006 My Guy
Mary Wells (1964)
Detroit native Mary Wells was the label’s first solo female superstar, and her heartfelt ode to one-man devotion (‘No muscle-bound man could take my hand from my guy/ No handsome face could ever take the place of my guy’) was penned by Smokey Robinson, who, never one to let a good idea go to waste, also wrote My Girl for The Temptations. My Guy was an early Tamla hit in the UK, peaking at number five in June 1964.
Rarest 1964 Stateside (DJ copy)
£100

 


Dancing In The Street Martha and the Vandellas (1964) Dancing In The Street was recorded as an out-and-out party song, but took on a whole different meaning when inner-city riots led to many young black protesters adopting it as a civil rights anthem for change. This led to some radio stations taking the song off their playlist. Sadly, the Bowie/Jagger cover version in 1986 was not afforded the same treatment. Rarest 1964 Stateside (DJ copy) £125

5 Dancing In The Street
Martha and the Vandellas (1964)
Dancing In The Street was recorded as an out-and-out party song, but took on a whole different meaning when inner-city riots led to many young black protesters adopting it as a civil rights anthem for change. This led to some radio stations taking the song off their playlist. Sadly, the Bowie/Jagger cover version in 1986 was not afforded the same treatment.
Rarest 1964 Stateside (DJ copy)
£125

 

 


Superstition Stevie Wonder (1972) In the early 70s during the Talking Book sessions, Stevie Wonder and Jeff Beck would hang out in the studio together and, surprisingly, it was the former Yardbird who improvised the drumbeat that kick-started the funky floor-filler into life. Initially, Wonder generously wanted Beck to record Superstition first, but he was swiftly vetoed by the Motown powers that be, who were having none of it. Rarest 1972 Tamla Motown £54 Superstition
Stevie Wonder (1972)
In the early 70s during the Talking Book sessions, Stevie Wonder and Jeff Beck would hang out in the studio together and, surprisingly, it was the former Yardbird who improvised the drumbeat that kick-started the funky floor-filler into life. Initially, Wonder generously wanted Beck to record Superstition first, but he was swiftly vetoed by the Motown powers that be, who were having none of it.
Rarest 1972 Tamla Motown
£5

 


Needle In A Haystack The Velvelettes (1964) First released on Tamla’s VIP Records imprint in the US, the seemingly futile pursuit of a good man was the inspiration behind the Detroit girl group’s first hit. The single peaked at number 45 in the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1964, and has been a dancefloor classic ever since. An original DJ copy of the UK Stateside release is worth a good bob or two. Rarest 1964 Stateside (DJ copy) £100-£125

3 Needle In A Haystack
The Velvelettes (1964)
First released on Tamla’s VIP Records imprint in the US, the seemingly futile pursuit of a good man was the inspiration behind the Detroit girl group’s first hit. The single peaked at number 45 in the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1964, and has been a dancefloor classic ever since. An original DJ copy of the UK Stateside release is worth a good bob or two.
Rarest 1964 Stateside (DJ copy)
£100-£125

 

 


The Tracks of My Tears The Miracles (1965) Written by Smokey and fellow Miracles Pete Moore and Marv Tamplin, this best-selling gut-wrencher relates the story of a lachrymose lover who can’t hide his heartbreak because of the tell-tale lines on his face that betray his sobs. An absolute masterpiece in storytelling, it reached number nine in the UK in 1965. Even the notoriously hard to please Berry Gordy liked it. Rarest 1965 Tamla Motown £452 The Tracks of My Tears
The Miracles (1965)
Written by Smokey and fellow Miracles Pete Moore and Marv Tamplin, this best-selling gut-wrencher relates the story of a lachrymose lover who can’t hide his heartbreak because of the tell-tale lines on his face that betray his sobs. An absolute masterpiece in storytelling, it reached number nine in the UK in 1965. Even the notoriously hard to please Berry Gordy liked it.
Rarest 1965 Tamla Motown
£45

 

 


I Heard It Through The Grapevine Marvin Gaye (1968) Marvin Gaye’s classic tale of the lovelorn man who discovers second hand that his girlfriend is cheating on him is the Motown smash that nearly got away. For some reason, Berry Gordy wasn’t convinced by the Whitfield/Barrett track and was reticent to release it. The record-buying public disagreed and the multi-million seller took Gaye’s career to sensational new heights. Rarest 1968 Tamla Motown (DJ copy) £25

1 I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Marvin Gaye (1968)
Marvin Gaye’s classic tale of the lovelorn man who discovers second hand that his girlfriend is cheating on him is the Motown smash that nearly got away. For some reason, Berry Gordy wasn’t convinced by the Whitfield/Barrett track and was reticent to release it. The record-buying public disagreed and the multi-million seller took Gaye’s career to sensational new heights.
Rarest 1968 Tamla Motown (DJ copy)
£25

 

Gary Tipp



Spotify

Click here to listen to our Essential Motown Spotify playlist

Comments

comments