K-Chuck Radio: Diamonds From the Motown Vaults

For those of you who are visiting my blog for the first time, welcome. Every so often I put together a musical blog playlist of ten songs with a theme or an underlying connection. I call it “K-Chuck Radio,” and it’s a great little playlist to listen to while you’re at work, or even if you’re home. Amazing what you can do with computer speakers and a bunch of YouTube clips. 🙂

So let’s get started.

Motown’s hitmaking machine is legendary.  It’s arguably one of the only music labels to have its own designated “sound.”  And the label has produced enough “greatest hits” to pack an iPod to full capacity.

That’s why I wanted to share with you some of the rarest tracks in Motown’s archive – the ones that may not have been true “hits,” but were in fact amazing recordings and really deserved any love they could receive.  Including:

All I Do

If you have a copy of Stevie Wonder’s “Hotter Than July” album, you’ve heard this track. Well, ten years before “Hotter Than July,” Stevie Wonder co-wrote this song, and it was recorded by Tammi Terrell – and eventually shuttered to the Motown vault.

Heaven Right Here On Earth

Man, you can hear Smokey Robinson’s writing in this piece, can’t you?  That, plus David Ruffin’s awesome vocals… this should have been a monster hit.  Yes it should have.

Why Am I Loving You

Great little song by white soul singer Debbie Dean; she actually recorded a few singles for Motown’s primary label, was cut from the company, and re-hired as a singer-songwriter for Motown’s subsidiary VIP brand, where this song was released.

My Smile is Just a Frown (Turned Upside Down)

This sweet ballad by Carolyn Crawford has a hidden surprise in it. There’s a lyrical couplet at 2:08 that Smokey Robinson would later recycle into the Miracles’ mega-hit “Tears of a Clown.” No kidding.

Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)

Frank Wilson was a Motown producer who, at one point in time, recorded this little track. It was shuttered to the Motown vaults, but a couple of test pressings of the recording found their way to the United Kingdom, where it became a monster hit in the Northern Soul clubs. How rare is this record? One of those test pressings later sold at auction for over $25,000 – and, according to legend, the winning bidder took the record to a British club AND PLAYED IT FOR THE DANCERS!

6 by 6

“Earl Van Dyke and the Motown Brass” were another name for the Motown house band, the Funk Brothers. And this song gives me this impression of what might have happened had Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass stopped in Detroit one day and started jamming at the Motown studios. Right?

The Luney Take-Off and the Luney Landing

Never thought I’d see or hear anything like this – it’s a Motown “break-in” record, where an interviewer would ask someone a question and the response would come from a song lyric or instrumental break. Dickie Goodman made a career out of these, and this 1969 recording took several Motown classic tracks and collaged them into an interview of its own.

The Winner Gets The Heart

At one point in the early 1980’s, Motown tried its hand at New Wave recordings, with lead singer Fizzy Quick and her band Tiggi Clay. They had a couple of minor hits, this was the better one of the two.

The Crown

Here’s an old-school Motown rap record, produced and co-written by Stevie Wonder. Totally awesome song that doubled as a rap track and a history lesson. And it’s got a nice groove as well.

Tobacco Road

Rare Earth was Motown’s best-selling rock band, and they tear through this album track, a song that was originally a hit by the Nashville Teens a decade prior. Rare Earth were known for their extended groove jams – you should hear their 25-minute version of “Get Ready,” it takes up the entire side of one LP. 🙂

So get your groove on, enjoy some classic rare funk, and have a great day… courtesy of K-Chuck Radio.