Jump to content
Tony Turner

Motown Soundalikes

Recommended Posts

There's some bizarre people about! I work with someone who is 'into Motown' and will not accept that there are many many soundalikes.

What would you suggest as the most Motown sounding not on Motown tunes to compile for him?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i used to see a bloke near boston once a month through work who told me he was into motown,so i lent him my motown conn cd and he didn.t say he liked it or not but said he preferred the real stuff lol

kev

Edited by kevinsoulman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Lucky To Be Loved By You" by Emanuel Lasky, "Talking About My Girl" by The Parliaments, "Me Without You" by Mary Wells, "Happiness Is Here" by Tobi Lark, "There's Some Good In Everything Bad" by The Fabulous Apollos, "Run One Flight Of Stairs" by Gloria Jones, "No Part Time Love For Me" by Martha Starr, "Don't Lead Me On, Baby" by Emanuel Laskey, "My World Is On Fire" by Jimmy Mack, "This Heart of Mine" by The Artistics.

Every one of these productions uses session players and a few use arrangers from Detroit or L.A. that were used by Motown, and songwriters and/or producers who had been with Motown previously.  I've never heard a production from another city that didn't have someone currently or previously involved with Motown involved and it sounded like Motown.  That is to say, MOST of the non-Motown cuts I think sound like Motown had The Funk Brothers and other Motown session players involved.  And those few that didn't, were recorded in L.A. by ex Motown producers or current Motown producers moonlighting, using the same L.A. studios and session players they had used for Motown productions, and the same for the few New York productions, which all used Richard Tee and his regular session players (who was and were used by New York's Jobete Music producers).  In other words, I don't think ANY of those NS songs completely unrelated to Motown that "Soulies" say sound like Motown, such as Len Barry's "1-2-3", and any Philadelphia, DC, Cleveland, etc, productions sound anything like Motown.  It takes at least 3 to 4 different elements to me, to sound like Motown - not just the beat and a similar vocal style.  The instrumental quality, mixing style, songwriting and arrangement style and recording studio acoustics have the most to do with it.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The most obvious would be Fontella Bass 'Rescue Me' which was designed by Chess to sound like Motown. Also Impressions 'You've Been Cheatin'', Bob Brady 'Everybody Going To A Love-In', gosh there must be thousands! Copying a hit style, be it Motown or James Brown or whatever, is an integral part of US Black music, and without it....Well you wouldn't have small label non-hit Motown soundalikes . Oh, that's Northern isn't it?

dean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sweet Things - I'm in a world of trouble

Clydie King - He always comes back to me

Sweethearts - No more Tears ( more than a hint of Stop in the name of love)

Shirley & Shirrelles - Look what you've done to my heart

Felice Taylor - I feel love comin' on

Fascinations - Girls are out to get you

Kev

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can't really count any Invictus/Hot Wax/MM stuff, because that was in effect as close as you could get to being Motown in another guise, once HDH left.

 

Kev

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's a few more-

                              Toys- "Lover's Concerto"

                              Lorraine Chandler- "What Can I Do"

                              Leon Haywood- "Baby Reconsider"

                              Connie Clark- "My Sugar Baby"

 

                          

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Poor Unfortunate Me" - J.J. Barnes, "Did My Baby Call" - Steve Mancha, I'll Never Let You Go" - O'Jays, "Later, For You Baby"- "You Lied" - Marva Josie, "I'm The Playboy" - The Pyramids, "Use Your Head" - Mary Wells

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

 

Hiya, couple of cheats, florence ballard ' does'nt matter how i say it.  And jackie ross. Trust in me..   If that aint motown

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Tony Turner said:

There's some bizarre people about! I work with someone who is 'into Motown' and will not accept that there are many many soundalikes.

What would you suggest as the most Motown sounding not on Motown tunes to compile for him?

I know a few (well, quite a lot) who love Motown but hate Northern Soul.

Weirdo's.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, kevinsoulman said:

i used to see a bloke near boston once a month through work who told me he was into motown,so i lent him my motown conn cd and he didn.t say he liked it or not but said he preferred the real stuff lol

kev

I understand his point very well.  To me, only the first 4-5 cuts I've listed on this thread really "sound like Motown recordings" to me.  All the rest really are just "reminiscent of Motown". as they only share sameness in one or 2 of the different elements in the recording.  I can almost always tell the difference, for example, in recordings in Golden World Studio before and after Motown took over EVEN though most (if not ALL) the session instrument players were working for Motown at the time of their sessions for Wingate, and even the arrangers and songwriters had previously worked for Motown.  I also can't remember an HDH production for one of their own labels, which really sounded like a Motown production.  Sure, they all had 1-3 elements that sounded like Motown.  But, for me, there are 7 or 8 elements that must ALL or most sound like Motown to reach the quality of a Motown recording.  But, then, I've been called insane - to which Rod S. can attest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To me and thinking instrumentals, The Funk Brothers, their instruments and style is a massive part of the sound. How the equipment is miked and recorded, plus the mix etc. Signature drum fills, guitar back beats and riffs a clue. They used three guitars and the minute you get one guitar playing the same notes as the bass player on certain passages, a cumulative sound develops. In addition, they had 2 drummers on a session so had the edge a little. I guess even the spill and reverb/echo settings would contribute to the sound. If you can be bothered, go to Youtube 55motown and play 'Dear Tammi'.  It's an instrumental at moment, has lyrics and there is a demo vocal version. It is a Motown soundalike....but with a difference. See what you think.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, The Motown Sound is much "fuller" than The Funk Brothers playing for Ed Wingate, Don Davis and LeBaron Taylor, Wilbur Golden and other producers/label owners.  How the equipment is miked and recorded, plus the mix etc. Signature drum fills, guitar back beats and riffs and more players contribute to the fuller sound.  I have listened to "Dear Tammi".  It has a nice, full sound.  But, it is not as crisp and clear as typical mid '60s Motown cuts.  But, maybe that's partly a function of my speakers?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It was never 'mastered' Robb. If I remember there is no compression on it, or frequency tinkering. I did this years ago now. Recently, this was sent to the producers of the new Tammi Terrell film about to be made, hoping they may like it etc. The guitar back beats are not loud enough either and I think the mix could be better. The idea at some stage is to get it re-recorded with a view to releasing a vocal and instrumental version. It has never been released in this state, but is being played on occasions on a New York station I believe. In effect, it is a demo. You should listen to 'That creaky old chair' and 'Glory Fleeting' on there too!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And talking of 1 2 3/Len Barry...this from John Madara on Facebook:

"The drummers are Bobby Gregg and Bernard Pretty Purdie, Vinnie Bell, Trade Martin and Bobby Eli on guitars, Joe Mack on Bass, Leon Huff and Artie Butler on keyboards and the Artie Kaplan horn section. The background singers are The Tymes and The Sweet Three. The studio was Bell Sound."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Carl Dixon said:

And talking of 1 2 3/Len Barry...this from John Madara on Facebook:

"The drummers are Bobby Gregg and Bernard Pretty Purdie, Vinnie Bell, Trade Martin and Bobby Eli on guitars, Joe Mack on Bass, Leon Huff and Artie Butler on keyboards and the Artie Kaplan horn section. The background singers are The Tymes and The Sweet Three. The studio was Bell Sound."

Exactly why it sounds mostly like a New York cut with a little Philadelphia flavour, and NOT like a Motown cut.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would guess that the original post is asking for a "soundalike" to the general public rather than to us anoraks. I've always thought 123 had that Motown feel although I couldn't pin it to a specific record, and this extract from a John Madara interview shows that Mr Gordy also thought it sounded like a Motown Record.

In an interview with Forgotten Hits, Madara explained: "In 1965, with '1-2-3' being the #1 record in the country, we were sued by Motown during the period when Berry Gordy was suing anyone whose records sounded like a Motown record. We were sued, saying that '1-2-3' was taken from a B-Side of a Supremes record called 'Ask Any Girl.' The only similarity between the two songs are the first three notes where the Supremes sang 'Ask Any Girl' and Lenny sang '1-2-3.' After that, there were no similarities, but their lawsuit said that our goal was to copy the Motown sound. Well, needless to say, Motown kept us in court, tying up all of our writers' royalties, production royalties and publishing royalties, and threatened to sue us on the follow-up to '1-2-3,' which was 'Like A Baby.' So after battling with them for two years and having a ton of legal bills, we made a settlement with Motown, giving them 15% of the writers' and publishers' share.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, gointoagogo said:

I would guess that the original post is asking for a "soundalike" to the general public rather than to us anoraks. I've always thought 123 had that Motown feel although I couldn't pin it to a specific record, and this extract from a John Madara interview shows that Mr Gordy also thought it sounded like a Motown Record.

In an interview with Forgotten Hits, Madara explained: "In 1965, with '1-2-3' being the #1 record in the country, we were sued by Motown during the period when Berry Gordy was suing anyone whose records sounded like a Motown record. We were sued, saying that '1-2-3' was taken from a B-Side of a Supremes record called 'Ask Any Girl.' The only similarity between the two songs are the first three notes where the Supremes sang 'Ask Any Girl' and Lenny sang '1-2-3.' After that, there were no similarities, but their lawsuit said that our goal was to copy the Motown sound. Well, needless to say, Motown kept us in court, tying up all of our writers' royalties, production royalties and publishing royalties, and threatened to sue us on the follow-up to '1-2-3,' which was 'Like A Baby.' So after battling with them for two years and having a ton of legal bills, we made a settlement with Motown, giving them 15% of the writers' and publishers' share.

 

 

USA is a ridiculously sue-happy nation, in which a large portion of the lawsuits and what judges and juries "find" for the plaintiff has no basis in logic or "fairness".  Agreeing with Berry Gordy that a competitor "stole" the opening hook from one of his songs to benefit from what Gordy's employees produced does NOT mean that "1-2-3" really sounds like a Motown cut.  First, we have to define what "sounding like a Motown cut" means.  To ME, it means, if someone plays me an unknown instrumental recording, and asks me, "do you think this recording was recorded by people currently employed by Motown Record Corp., or Tamla, Motown, Miracle, or Rayber Records before incorporated?", and I and I answer YES (whether I am correct or incorrect), then, yes, the cut "sounds like a Motown cut".  If I say, "I don't think so", it DOES NOT (regardless of whether or not it really WAS recorded by Motown personnel).  What I guess as being a Motown recording probably will have at least 5 of the 8 elements for which I listen, and often more (6 to 8).

 

For most of you here, even as low as 1 to 3 of those elements suffice for it to "sound like Motown" to you.  I understand that.  We just have different points of reference.  As far as what we like. THAT is very different.  Much of what Northern Soul fans like, because "it 'sounds like Motown' " I don't like very much, don't even like in the slightest, or even detest.  That song above, "Marching Out of Your Life", does nothing for me.  Yet, we probably ALL agree that "This Old Heart of Mine (is Weak For You)" is a fantastic recording.

I like "1-2-3" a lot.  But, to me, it sounds like an Northeast/East Coast (NY/Philly hybrid)-to be more specific, a Johnny Madera cut - almost NOTHING like a Motown cut,  I'm someone who thinks Stevenson-Hunter songs sound extremely different from Dean-Weatherspoon and Fuqua-Bristol cuts.  I can see that laypeople, and even many Soulies might not notice nor care about such differences.  In other words, just because a song may have an element or two that REMINDS me of Motown, doesn't mean I will like it.  A lot more goes into my deciding to like a song than one or two of its elements.  With many NS fans, just having a good, danceable beat is enough.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's a few more for the Motown Soundalikes list-

Lillie Bryant- "Meet Me Halfway"

Tina Britt- "The Real Thing"

This next one isn't so obvious-

Larry Atkins- "Ain't That Love Enough" sounds suspiciously like Brenda Holloway's unreleased "We'll Keep On Rolling"

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's another less obvious one-

Porgy and the Monarchs- "That Girl". I know you're thinking that sounds nothing like a Motown record but compare it to the Downbeats

unreleased "You Say You Love Me".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, the yank said:

Here's a few more for the Motown Soundalikes list-

Lillie Bryant- "Meet Me Halfway"

Tina Britt- "The Real Thing"

This next one isn't so obvious-

Larry Atkins- "Ain't That Love Enough" sounds suspiciously like Brenda Holloway's unreleased "We'll Keep On Rolling"

 

"The Real Thing" sounds pure Ashford-Simpson.  But NOT the Motown Ashford-Simpson, but the New York Ashford-Simpson of Scepter-Wand.  Actually, this light-hearted mid tempo song sounds more like a "Chicago Sound" song than a Motown song.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, the yank said:

I might sound like a Chicago song to you but every time I hear the song, the first thing I think of is

"Heatwave" by Martha and the Vandellas.

It doesn't sound ANYTHING  like "Heatwave" to me, other than a few notes similar to Martha's voice mannerisms.  It's a typical Ashford-Simpson faster song (fast mid-tempo), which were typically sung by The Apollas.  This sounds a lot more like an Apollas' song than a Motown song.

Edited by RobbK

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, the yank said:

In the words of Van McCoy...

   "to each his own, that's my philosophy, I don't know whats right for you, you don't know what's right for me.........."


 

 

I agree.  I can only speak for my own taste.  We all come from unique, different points of view.  Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don't.  Often people are talking about apples, when others are talking about oranges.  They aren't disagreeing, they are talking about different issues, which, sometimes can produce superfluous posts in the minds of some of the posters.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, the yank said:

Here's a few more for the Motown Soundalikes list-

Lillie Bryant- "Meet Me Halfway"

Tina Britt- "The Real Thing"

This next one isn't so obvious-

Larry Atkins- "Ain't That Love Enough" sounds suspiciously like Brenda Holloway's unreleased "We'll Keep On Rolling"

 

Sorry Yank. Hadn't seen this when I posted. It hadn't updated on my phone. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join or log in now!

Comments are members only

Join Soul Source - Free & easy!

Sign up now!

Sign in here.

Sign in now!

Related Soul Music Links

×