Inside 15 classic Motown songs

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Inside 15 classic Motown songs

Mary Wells, 'My Guy'. The success of this track, released in 1964, brought Wells to the attention of The Beatles, who asked her to support them in the UK. Wells was therefore instrumental in 'breaking' Motown in Europe. However, a contractual dispute led to Wells leaving Motown the following year, and she never again achieved scaled such commercial heights. Pic: Redferns

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Added: 23 Jan 2009

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Inside 15 classic Motown songs

Edwin Starr, 'War'. Originally a Temptations album track, Starr cut a tougher single version in 1970. Starr always claimed the song was personal rather than political, but it was nonetheless co-opted by the anti-Vietnam war movement. Its runaway success paved the way for a more politicised, socially-aware era of Motown. Pic: Redferns

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Added: 23 Jan 2009

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Inside 15 classic Motown songs

Jimmy Ruffin, 'What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted?' This 1966 smash hit song originally featured a spoken introduction by Jimmy (older brother of The Temptations' David). It was removed from the final mix - hence the unusually long instrumental intro on the released version. Pic: Redferns

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Added: 23 Jan 2009

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Inside 15 classic Motown songs

The Jackson 5, 'I Want You Back'. Written in Los Angeles rather than Detroit (by The Corporation, a collective that included Berry Gordy), the Jackson 5's debut single, released in October 1969, signalled a new beginning for Motown at the close of the decade. Featuring a piercing lead vocal from the 11-year-old Michael Jackson, the song was the first of four straight Billboard Number Ones for the group. Photo: PA Photos

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Added: 23 Jan 2009

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Inside 15 classic Motown songs

Stevie Wonder, 'Superstition'. Wonder originally wrote this track for British rock guitarist Jeff Beck but, on the advice of his own manager, recorded it himself instead. Released as a single in November 1972, the song kicks off with a highly distinctive drumbeat, which Wonder recorded himself. Pic: Photoshot

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Added: 23 Jan 2009

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Inside 15 classic Motown songs

The Miracles, 'The Tracks Of My Tears'. While Smokey Robinson wrote the lyrics, it was another Miracles member, Marv Tarplin, who came up with the guitar riff, inspired by a calypso tune, Harry Belafonte's 'The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)'. Robinson had Tarplin's music on cassette for six months before finally completing the lyrics: the last bit to fall into place was the title. Photo: PA Photos

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Added: 23 Jan 2009

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Inside 15 classic Motown songs

Four Tops, 'Reach Out I'll be There'. Recorded in just two takes in 1966, The Four Tops regarded this as a throwaway album track and were astonished when Berry Gordy picked it as a single. Songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland had instructed lead vocalist Levi Stubbs to imitate Bob Dylan's vocal on 'Like A Rolling Stone' â

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Added: 23 Jan 2009

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Inside 15 classic Motown songs

Marvin Gaye, 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine'. In a rare lapse of judgement, Motown boss Berry Gordy was initially reluctant to release this as a single. Many different versions were recorded â

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Added: 23 Jan 2009

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Inside 15 classic Motown songs

The Supremes, 'You Keep Me Hanging On'. Released in 1966, this was Holland-Dozier-Holland's attempt at writing a 'rock' song. The 'Morse code' guitar intro â

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Added: 23 Jan 2009

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Inside 15 classic Motown songs

The Supremes, 'Where Did Our Love Go?' Motown hit-writers Holland-Dozier-Holland originally penned this for The Marvelettes but they rejected it, considering it too corny, so it passed to The Supremes, who at that point were yet to score a hit. The distinctive rhythmic backing was made by a teenager, Mike Valvano, stomping on two wooden boards suspended from strings. The song gave The Supremes their first US Number One. Photo: PA Photos

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Added: 23 Jan 2009

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Inside 15 classic Motown songs

Martha And The Vandellas, 'Dancing In The Street'. Martha Reeves had been working as a typist in the Motown office when label boss Berry Gordy picked her to front the Vandellas in 1962. The trio's biggest hit, 'Dancing In The Street', started life as a ballad sung (and co-written) by Marvin Gaye â

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Added: 23 Jan 2009

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Inside 15 classic Motown songs

The Marvelettes, 'Please Mr Postman'. Motown's first US Number One had a complicated genesis. It has been credited to many people, but only recently has the contribution of Freddie Gorman been acknowledged. As well as being a Motown songwriter and member of The Originals, Gorman was in fact a postman. "With me working at the post office, it was very easy for me to write the lyrics," he explained in a 1981 interview. Pic: Redferns

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Added: 23 Jan 2009

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Inside 15 classic Motown songs

Marvin Gaye, 'What's Going On?' Deemed "uncommercial" by label boss Berry Gordy, Gaye's luxuriously-arranged social critique in fact became Motown's fastest-selling single to date upon its release in 1971. The mellow 'party' noises you can hear in the background of the track were made by Mel Farr and Lem Barney of the Detroit Lions American Football team. Gaye had made their acquaintance when he (unsuccessfully) tried out for the team in 1970. Pic: Redferns

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Added: 23 Jan 2009

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Inside 15 classic Motown songs

The Temptations, 'I Wish It Would Rain'. One of the saddest songs in the Motown canon. The lyrics were written for the group by Roger Penzabene, shortly after finding out his wife had cheated on him. Having poured his despair into the song, Penzabene committed suicide on New Year's Eve 1967, a week after the single's release. Pic: Redferns

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Added: 23 Jan 2009

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Inside 15 classic Motown songs

The Temptations, 'My Girl'. Smokey Robinson wrote this song about his wife, Claudette Rogers-Robinson, and he originally wanted it to be recorded by his own group The Miracles (which Claudette was also a member of). However, he was persuaded to pass the song on to The Temptations. It became their first US Number One, and has since been covered by artists as diverse as Michael Jackson and The Jesus & Mary Chain. Pic: Redferns

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Added: 23 Jan 2009

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