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Motown Shorts

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Junior Walker and The All-Stars, Anthólogy, Motown M7-786R2; Diana Ross and The Supremes, Anthólogy, Motown M9794A3; The Four Tops, Anthólogy, Motown M9-809A3. Back in 1958 in Detroit. Berry Gordy and Wüliam "Smokey" Robinson almost singlehandedly created Motown Records and its fust hit single, "Shop Around" , featuring Smokey with The Miracles. Sixteen years and 500 hits later, the history of the Motown Corporation serves as the archtypical illustration ofthat venerable adage, "from little acorns, great oak trees grow." I can't imagine anyone reading this whose life has never been touched and thereby enriched by any or all of the following poets and magicians -- The Temptations, Marvin Gaye. Mary Wells, The Marvelettes, Stevje Wonder, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Supremes, The Four Tops, and many others. Recently, after a solid decade and a half of service, Mama Motown finds she has to scrap the oíd single-record "Greatest Hits Of' series of yore and re-reissue the collected silver bullets from each particular group in the form of multi-disc, budget priced, "Anthologies." The latest three recollections are printed above. Junior Walker and The All-Stars' Anthólogy is stretched over four sides of vinyl. As I recall (and I don't pretend to remember everything) the All-Stars had only (only!) about a half dozen efforts tliat really put the torch toyou. These include "Shotgun". "Road Runner", "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)", "Pucker Up, Buttercup". and "What Does It Take." Still, it's probably impossible to get these goodies any other way, and all four sides are music to move to. Now, Til admit up front that The Supremes never killed me the way, say, Martha and The Vandellas did. and that. in particular, Diana Ross' bleary-eyed mincings usually inspired me to disgorge. But! These are three star-sprinkled discs. You'll find incandescent, irreproachable gems on the order of "My World Is Empty Without You, Babe", "I Hear A Symphony", "Baby Love", and "Come See About Me." Unfortunately, for all that, there's a substantial lot of fat here. The Four Tops' (since departed Motown, for DunhiW) Anthólogy lies leaner on its three discs. In fact, I won't bother to demean the immensity of their contribution with a token list. Almost thoroughly thrilling. Also, some past "Anthólogy" releases that are especially good buys are Marvin Gaye's, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles', The Temptations', and Gladys Knight and the Pips'. These anthologies are instant collector's items and each and every one is a tribute to the organization which helped, as much as anyone or anything else, to bring urban black culture and suburban white culture together in understanding and joy.