Calling Out Around the World:

Motown Turns 50

By PopMatters Staff

29 January 2009

What It Was Like

In the early '80s Detroit, Motown was as unquestionable as air. Who didn't like air?

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Needles in the Haystack

To supplement our list of favorite 25 singles, we offer a quick look at a handful of under-appreciated gems in the Motown catalog.

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What’s Going On: Marvin Gaye’s Liberation from the Motown Sound

When Obie Benson of the Four Tops brought him a song he had co-written with Al Cleveland, Marvin Gaye found something that had reflected the way he had been feeling ever since Tammi Terrell's death -- anger, sadness, and disillusionment about his friend's death and the chaotic world around him.

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Yesterday’s Dreams: Motown in the 1980s

The music of Motown's third decade does not quite deserve the close attention that the label's first two decades warrant, but even a cursory look at the label in these years reveals that things weren't all bad.

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Twirling the Dial: My Motown Memories

For those of us in tune with the sounds of the genre-redefining decade, a transistor radio was the seminal social sidekick. We loved listening to that little mono wonder, its tiny shrill speaker sparking a hundred journeys directly into the center of our mind.

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These Are the Breaks: The Motown Sound’s Influence on Hip-Hop Sampling

For any influential group in the hip-hop game, specifically in the early 1990s, Motown's stamp of approval and its variety of subsidiaries were undeniably influential.

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Manufacturing Motown

Like the nameplates on the auto industry's productive output, Motown's headline acts were brand identities under which cultural commodities were sold.

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Danger Heartbreak Dead Ahead

If "I've Gotta Dance to Keep from Crying" could work as a slogan for Motown, the song itself works as both a dance song and a tearjerker.

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Dancing in the Street: Our 25 Favorite Motown Singles

From the Four Tops and the Temptations to the Marvelettes and the Velvelettes, we narrow down our favorite singles from the "Sound of Young America" era to 25 indisputable picks.

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Double Take: The African Queen (1951)

// Short Ends and Leader

"What a time they had, Charlie and Rosie. They'll never lack for stories to tell their grandchildren. And what a time we had at Double Take discussing the spiritual and romantic journey of the African Queen.

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