ALBUM OF THE MONTH
FIVE REASONS TO LISTEN:
- Showcasing the first Tamla Motown tour package to cross the Atlantic, recorded at the historic Olympia Music Hall in Paris in April 1965.
- Four of Motown’s greatest acts, captured live in concert, early in their careers: Martha & the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, the Supremes and the Miracles.
- Newly released 2016 edition features the entire show from beginning to end, with 12 previously unavailable performances.
- Including such hits as “Stop! In The Name Of Love,” “Heat Wave,” “Ooo Baby Baby” and “Fingertips”.
- Motown studio king Earl Van Dyke leads the Soul Brothers, backing all the artists, with guitarist Robert (“My Girl”) White and saxman Eli (“What’s Going On”) Fontaine among those in the line-up.
FOUR FAST FACTS:
- Original LP release date: November 1965 (U.S.), February 1966 (Europe)
- Billboard album chart peak: #111 pop
- Paris show immediately followed the Tamla Motown U.K. tour
- Original LP edited and assembled by Robert L. Gordy
The Supremes singing “Where Did Our Love Go” dancing down the Champs-Elysee in Paris
FULL TRACK LISTING:
HIDDEN GEM: Martha & the Vandellas’ dynamic performance of “Heat Wave,” unissued on the original 1965 album.
- The concert marked Stevie Wonder’s second trip to Paris; he would celebrate his 15th birthday in three weeks. In December 1963, he had played two weeks’ worth of shows at the Olympia on a various-artists bill of American, British and French stars.
- Earlier in 1963, Berry Gordy had visited a number of European cities, including Paris, Hamburg and London, scouting for suitable record companies and music publishers to represent Motown abroad.
- The Supremes’ stage act in Paris was “perfectly timed choreography, to the second,” wrote critic Roland Philippe in Disco Revue at the time. The group was effectively preparing for the most important show of their career: at New York’s Copacabana nightclub, three months later.
- The Paris show coincided with the launch of Tamla Motown as a label in its own right in France. Motown’s local partner, Pathe-Marconi, issued four-track EPs by the Supremes, the Miracles, Martha & the Vandellas and Earl Van Dyke, among others, and these are collectors’ items to this day.
- Years later, Smokey Robinson recalled that the Miracles’ European fans were as devoted as those in America. “It was wonderful to learn that we were loved by people living so far away,” he declared in his autobiography, Smokey: Inside My Life.
“We had closed at the Olympia and everybody was on a special high (without drugs)…When we returned home, we had a lot of stories and pictures to share with the Motown family that didn’t go” – Jack Ashford, percussionist with the Funk Brothers, quoted in his 2003 autobiography, The View From The Bottom.
“I watched from the wings, and I was very impressed by the way the artists watched another act with such enthusiasm and enjoyment, joining in the clapping and cheering at the end” – Peter Verpilleux, member of the U.K. Tamla Motown Appreciation Society, quoted in its Hitsville U.S.A. magazine in May 1965.
VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE TRACK ON THE ALBUM:
Producers: Robert L. Gordy, who edited and assembled the original album; Harry Weinger, who produced the 2016 expanded reissue.
Songwriters: Burt Bacharach, Leonard Bernstein, James Cavanaugh, Betty Comden, Sam Cooke, Hank Cosby, Hal David, Lamont Dozier, Marvin Gaye, Billy Gordon, Thelma Gordy, Adolph Green, William Lee Hays, Robert Higginbotham, Brian Holland, Edward Holland Jr., Ivy Jo Hunter, Jimmy McGriff, Bob Merrill, Pete Moore, Russ Morgan, Willie Nelson, Clarence Paul, Gertrude (Ma) Rainey, William “Smokey” Robinson, Bobby Rogers, Pete Seeger, Stephen Sondheim, William “Mickey” Stevenson, Larry Stock, Richard Street, Jules Styne, Ron White, Norman Whitfield, Stevie Wonder.
Pre-makes include: “All About My Girl” (Jimmy McGriff, 1963), “Funny (How Time Slips Away)” (Willie Nelson, 1962; Joe Hinton, 1964), “Hi-Heel Sneakers” (Tommy Tucker, 1963), “If I Had A Hammer” (The Weavers, 1950; Peter, Paul & Mary, 1962), “Make Someone Happy” (Perry Como, 1960), “People” (Barbra Streisand, 1964), “See See Rider” (Ma Rainey, 1925; Chuck Willis, 1957), “Somewhere” (Original Broadway Cast, 1957), “Wives And Lovers” (Jack Jones, 1963), “You’re Nobody ’Til Somebody Loves You” (Frank Sinatra, 1961; Dinah Washington, 1962).
What we didn’t know at the time: Stevie’s duet with his producer, Clarence Paul, “Funny (How Time Slips Away)” was a live version of what was then a new studio recording, perhaps anticipating the studio version’s release. But the studio version was not issued until a digital collection in late 2015.
Re-makes: New interpretations of Motown originals were most likely inspired by studio recordings, rather than live sessions, although teenage Stevie Wonder’s Paris performance may have encouraged more than a few budding musicians to keep practicing the harmonica.