SITE PRE-SALE DATE: 2/24/12
SITE SHIP DATE: 3/5/12
Any serious Motown fan will tell you: this 2-CD set, The Motown Sound: The Complete Albums & More, is cause for celebration. An all-instrumental collection showcasing the Funk Brothers, Motown’s legendary house band led by keyboardist Earl Van Dyke, it features the two albums issued under Earl’s name – the rare That Motown Sound and Earl Of Funk, each making their CD debut – adding in nearly every non-LP single, various stray releases and nine unreleased cuts.
Van Dyke and the Funk Brothers band backed the Motown stars on nearly every hit single pouring out of the company in its super-hot heyday, from 1964-1972. Except for the coveted releases in this collection, the guys were kept under wraps until a book and subsequent 2002 documentary, Standing In The Shadows of Motown, brought them international fame. Their 1965 LP release, That Motown Sound, features Earl playing funky solo organ over original backing tracks of several Motown classics, including “Nowhere To Run,” “Come See About Me,” My Girl,” “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” and eight more. Earl Of Funk, featuring covers and originals, including the breakbeat favorite “The Stingray,” is a masterful live album issued in 1970. Both are in remastered stereo.
The group issued singles, including “Soul Stomp”; this collection includes both the original single and a rare live version recorded in Paris. Their other non-LP singles include a cover of the Temptations’ hit “Runaway Child, Running Wild.” But Earl and the Funk Brothers were best at the music they played after hours: soul-jazz and steaming funk.
Luckily, some of that music was recorded as well, and prime Funk Brothers cuts recorded under Earl’s name that weren’t released at all, from the gritty “Opus And Funk” to the late-night live blues jam, “You Name It,” are here. The centerpiece of the unreleased material is a 12-minute version of “The Flick,” a group original that became their stage theme; this uncut alternate features several keyboard solos from Earl and bass solos from James Jamerson. Also included are three tracks recorded under Jamerson’s leadership, two of which were unreleased until now. The 45-track set concludes with “Ode To Benny B.,” a previously unreleased tribute to the late Funk Brothers’ drummer, Benny Benjamin, highlighted by emotional harmonica playing from a certain young Motown star who had been mentored by the guys in the band.
The Motown Sound: The Complete Albums & More is housed in a gorgeous digi-pak with a 28-page booklet featuring rare photos, detailed track annotations and an essay by Allan “Dr. Licks” Slutsky, author of the original Standing Of The Shadows of Motown book and producer of the subsequent documentary film.