by Nelson George ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 3, 1985
Faced with what he describes as the ""aggressive non-cooperation"" of Motown Records, music critic George has nonetheless produced a riveting account of what was once the nation's largest black-owned company. Basing his narrative on ""unpublished interviews with ex-Motowners,"" George traces the careers of Motown founder Berry Gordy, and of the vocalists, songwriters and musicians who made Motown synonymous with all that was innovative in American rhythm and blues during the 1960's. In the telling, he takes on unflinching look at the very real achievements and the equally real problems of black artists and black capitalists in America. The book should prove as popular as the 1964 Supremes' hit from which George takes his title. Gordy's story is one of hard-driving ambition and creative genius, of family loyalties and financial flummery, of stroked and deflated egos, of overweening hubris and the eventual fall. It was Gordy who not only established a black sound in the commercial record marketplace but who was able to popularize it with white audiences on a large scale. In the course of his phenomenal career he promoted the likes of Diana Ross and the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Martha and the Vandellas, The Temptations, Gladys Knight and the Pips and The Jackson Five, among others. It was a stunning roster of talent that passed through his somewhat shabby studios and a steady stream of hits was the result. Perfectionist Gordy supervised every aspect, from the initial composition to final distribution. In the end, the operation became too big; Gordy lost touch with his artists, offending most, dismissing many. Today, he sits in Hollywood, reclusive and embittered, dreaming of recouping his losses after producing such box-office flops as Mahogany and The Wiz. The probability of that happening is, according to George, not good. Motown is ""just another record company,"" as one ex-Motowner remarked. There is pride and disappointment, bitterness and puzzlement, tragedy and foolishness in Where Did Our Love Go? In this, the book reveals the author's deep commitment to and knowledge of his theme. A distinctive tale.
Pub Date: Feb. 3, 1985
Page Count: -
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1985
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