October 15, 2008

Best Motown Remakes

After talking about the best Beatles' remakes, let's turn the tables and talk about the best Motown remakes. This label defined the 60s, and their songs started my love for music. There were plenty as artists of all types mined gold from the Detroit label's catalogue. Now, my top five, in no particular order...
  1. "More Love" - This Kim Carnes hit covered Smokey Robinson's original smash. The perfect match of song and artist, as her gravelly voice and inspired arrangement produced a major hit in 1980. As convincing a performance as her later hit "Bette Davis Eyes".
  2. "You Can't Hurry Love" - Phil Collins. Don't get me wrong: I love the original by the Supremes. But Phil's version brings great snap to this old favorite. Plain old fun. Great backing vocals and a typically hot rhythm track. From 1982.
  3. "How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You" - Another James Taylor megahit, one that defined 1975 and my summer pleasures. The definitive version of the song.
  4. "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" - During the "Frampton Comes Alive" tour, I ate up every note the man played. He split his set into two halves, an acoustic first half, and an electric second. This Stevie Wonder classic was his closing encore. It was so good, I turned to my friend and said, "This would make a great single!" And it was- from the 1977 album "I'm In You".
Maybe I need more than five remakes! " Heatwave" and "Tracks of My Tears" by Linda Ronstadt are two of my favorites. But then again, the playful "Please Mr. Postman" by the Carpenters sounded so fresh to me that I didn't even realize it was Karen singing the lead at first listen! David Bowie and Mick Jagger swung to "Dancing in the Street" while Toni Tennille belted out a new take on "Shop Around". Lastly, could Michael McDonald's "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" be any better? Not in my book! And as they say "The hits just keep on comin'!" at least as long as artists discover what a treasure chest of classics sit in the Motown vault. Thanks, Berry Gordy, for starting an American institution.

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