THE MOTOWN STORY by Don Waller

THE MOTOWN STORY

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Slap on a stack of favorite Motown wax--we're talkin' Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. We're talkin' chartbusters, lonely teardrops, and STOP! IN THE NAME OF LOVE!!--then dig this R&B wailer about the Detroit-based hit factory that became the largest black-owned business in America. And it's a BLAM BLAM-BLAM SPLASH beat Waller rides in spinning his story of Berry Gordy, Jr.'s running up a borrowed $800 into 60 number-one platinums. Gordy's method: to lay down a rhythm track, then call in artist after artist to take a crack at the lyric. Waller interviews Gordy and his stars, plus the masterpops songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland and Ashford and Simpson and others, while reviewing the emotional momentum behind every great group Motown ever featured. Seventy percent of Motown sales were to whites, but after 15 years as sales leader of the pack Motown slipped when white-owned major labels staffed their own Black Music Departments with black execs. But HOLD BACK YOUR TEARS BEFORE YOU START TO CRY!--because Motown still has a fabulous reissue catalogue DOOT-DOOT-DOOT-WOW! as well as Lionel Richie and Smokey and Stevie who know how to pulsate on the heartstrings and sell some vinyl. BABY! I NEED YOUR LOVIN'! Gordy really got under motion when he discovered The Miracles, a quintet ""from the suave part of the slums,"" with their ""white-chocolate sound, as sweet as it is soulful."" Gordy studied everything, do-wop, pops, gospel style against rhythm & blues, and with ""his heart in the charts and his feet in the street"" groomed kids from the streets of Detroit, all of 'em with feelings and imaginations at a rolling boil. YOU'RE TEARIN' ME UP, BABY! As Motown songwriter George Clinton said, Gordy ""set fire to your ass"" while Gordy modestly comments, ""I earned 367 million dollars in 16 years. I must be doing something right."" What he was doing was giving the kids a family atmosphere and urging them to help each other have hits. THE LOVE I SAW IN YOU WAS JUST A MIRAGE! 100 black-and-white photographs, plus a complete Motown discography. NOTHIN' BUT HEARTACHES! OOO-OOO-OOO! HE BRINGS NOTHIN' BUT HEARTACHES! I CAN'T BREAK AWAY FROM HIS ARMS!

Pub Date: June 18th, 1985
Publisher: Scribner's