"Motown" recordings done in California

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by toptentwist, Apr 26, 2016.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. toptentwist

    toptentwist Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Houston, TX
    A few minutes ago, while listening to a random selection of songs in my digital library, a cover of The Supremes singing Stevie Wonder's "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" suddenly invaded my headphones.

    The track is a "vault" recording that surfaced in the last 10 or so years on a compilation entitled "Motown Sings Motown Treasures". The bass was very funky, but the recording didn't sound like it was done at the Hitsville studios in Detroit.

    Recognizing that the "Dont Forget the Motor City" website run by Kevin Hughes has a mountain of good information in it, I checked with it to see what it said. Don't Forget The Motor City ยป

    The Supremes; recorded L.A. / Hitsville, completed 27-Apr-66 ; produced by Frank Wilson, Hal Davis

    12-Jan-05; CD (S): Hip-O Select B0003619-02 Motown Sings Motown Treasures Volumes 1+2
    25-Mar-08; CD (M): Hip-O Select B0003263-02 Let The Music Play: Supreme Rarities [alternate mix (vocal?)]

    I think this means Kevin didn't have good data for this recording. The liner notes for the CDs might have better detail but I'm not positive. Hughes is the person who supplies a lot of the technical recording date (dates, locations) for the vault releases. The fact that it lists both Los Angeles and Detroit, suggests one of two things. One, Kevin couldn't tell from the data in the Motown library... or, Two, the song was done in two places... with the backing track recorded in one location and the vocals done somewhere else.

    I don't believe the backing sounds like the Funk Brothers. The electric guitar sounds like one person, not
    that thing they did in Detroit where three guitarists split the guitar into three separate funky parts.

    The producers credit on the Hughes website suggests to me that the recording was done in California.

    I think The Supremes, recorded a lot of their less funky material in California.

    It's possible the backing track was shipped to Detroit, and the Supremes added vocals there - but there doesn't seem to be much point to that - because they could have just used the Funk Brothers.

    Any "Wrecking Crew" experts here willing to listen to this track and come to a conclusion?

    I wondering if maybe, the musicians listened to the Stevie Wonder track in their headphones during the session. The tempo seems to be nearly identical to the Stevie Wonder recording.

    The Suprmes recording clocks in at 2:41, the Stevie Wonder recording clocks in at 2;53 on Disc 27 of the Hip-O singles set.

    Listening to the Stevie Wonder original, it has more of that grungy "recorded in a garage" feeling that happened in that little magical room behind the Hitsville building (aka "Studio A").

    Other possibility is horns were added later in Detroit.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2016
    Durm likes this.
  2. john hp

    john hp Forum Resident

    Warwickshire, UK
    The producers Frank Wilson & Hal Davis were based in Los Angeles I believe.

    The notes with the 2004 Motown Treasures CD indicate that the track was recorded in Los Angeles (date unknown) with background vocals recorded in Detroit April 21, 1966, lead vocal recorded April 27 (presumably Detroit?)

    The 2008 Supreme Rarities CD which includes the alternate vocal version has the same information apart from the contradictory "all dates Los Angeles"
  3. toptentwist

    toptentwist Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Houston, TX
    Given that the Supremes did a fair amount of recording in California, it strikes me as odd that the vocals would have been added in Detroit - unless it was a deal where the track was originally cut for a different singer (i.e. Brenda Holloway) and the new vocals and the orignal vocals were swapped at the same time.

    Given that Hughes probably provided the information for both sets of liner notes - any apparent contradiction may indicate he wasn't sure - or learned more information as time went by.

    I just listened to both Supremes releases... the "rarities" set has a slightly longer track time (2:49 versus 2:41) compared to the "Motown Treasures" set. I didn't really notice a different vocal, but the slightly longer track found on rarities had an "ah ha yeah" in the last few seconds that was missing from the shorter version... but I think it might have just been an earlier fade.

    IMHO, neither Supremes versions rivals the Stevie Wonder version - with the key failing component being the electric guitar which just doesn't grab you like the guitar on the Stevie Wonder version.

    If it's Carol Kaye on the Supremes recording, and I assume it is, she is not the weak link.

    The fact that it sat in the vault for approximately 40 years is telling.

    I can't figure out what the anticipated use was... maybe as a backing track for a lip sync appearance on TV (?)

    But I just listened to the next five or so tracks on the "Rarities" disc and they all have a 1966 date and don't have that Detroit sound... looks like the simplest explanation is The Supremes were making a record filled with covers of hits....
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2016
  4. MikeP5877

    MikeP5877 Threadkiller

    Supremes a-Go-Go contains a few Motown "covers" ("Money", "Get Ready", etc...) so it was probably recorded for that album.
  5. john hp

    john hp Forum Resident

    Warwickshire, UK
    The Supreme Rarities notes indicate that Mickey's Monkey, Uptight, It's Not Unusual, & Satisfaction were all Supremes a Go-Go outtakes produced by Wilson & Davis. There is also a version of Can I Get a Witness included on the 1987 CD The Never-Before-Released Masters which the insert indicates was produced by Hal Davis & Frank Wilson and recorded April, 1966.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page