You’re indestructuh-buh-uhl etc etc.
The internet is full of gold. Look in the deepest, darkest corners and all sorts of fantastic stuff awaits you with a nod and a wink and a glad-you-found-me smile. Without the internet, I wouldn’t have learned to dance like James Brown (thank you, You Tube). I’d never have seen Stevie Wonder doing Superstition on Sesame Street (Thanks again, You Tube). I’d never have heard those rip-roaring Sgt Pepper master tapes (still available here) that caused Plain Or Pan to go into some sort of meltdown for a few of days a couple of years ago.
One story goes that the record companies are all in a panic over the state of many of the master tapes in their posession. The original tapes have over the years been rendered gossamer-light and wafer-thin through combinations of repeated reissues/remasters/remixes and plain old neglect. In an attempt to preserve these original recordings as best they can, the labels have started transferring the original master tapes onto digital files, where they can be kept box fresh for as long as they want (you’re indestructuh-buh-uhl and all that, or at least until someone discovers that digital files also have a sell-by date). Being made digital also means that as soon as they’ve been converted, some kind soul sticks one or two teasers out into the ether and stirs up a bit of a feeding frenzy amomgst yer more savvy downloaders. It would appear that none other than the good folks at Motown (yes!) have decided to preserve their archives in this way and, thank you Lord, someone has seen fit to leak some of these masters online. A year or so ago I posted the master tapes to Stevie Wonder‘s Superstition and Marvin Gaye‘s Heard It Through The Grapevine. If you liked them, you’ll love these…
A 15 year old Stevie Wonder belting out Uptight (Everything’s Alright) like his life depended on it. Crystal clear with just a touch of reverb, this is the music-free vocal track. Comes complete with all the gaps and pauses for you to fill in the horn parts yourself. Listen out for his wee laugh when he cracks up towards the end. Gold!
What happened to Michael Jackson? I mean, what happened? When he died, the TV showed a brilliant black and white clip of The Jackson 5, young Michael at the front boppin’ and a-poppin’ in slow motion to this track. Here for you is the vocal-only track of an 11 year old (11 years old!) Michael Jackson singing I Want You Back with absolute total abandon. By the time he gets to the end, his voice has almost gone but he’s still going for it with those wee ‘uhs‘ and ‘huhs‘ that would later develop into crappy girly yelps. No wonder Jarvis Cocker kicked his arse all those years later. Gold!
I’ve posted Marvin Gaye studio stuff before, but never this. It’s only the vocal-only track of What’s Going On! Just Marvin double-tracked and duetting with himself through the slickest protest song ever written. The middle section where he scats and shoobee-do-bops is outrageous, something I’d never really noticed in the finished record, given that the middle part is packed full of sweeping strings, bongos and kitchen sinks full of Funk Brother riffs. Gold!
I’ve also posted versions of The Temptations‘ Papa Was A Rolling Stone before, but again, not this – the vocal-only track. Written by regular Motown producer Norman Whitfield, the vocal group didn’t really like his instrumentation. Vocalist Dennis Edwards didn’t like the autobiographical (he thought)/coincidental (Whitfield claimed) “...3rd of September” line, given that that was the day Edwards father had actually died. Whitfield made him sing the line time and time again until he got a take filled with the right amount of anger and frustration. I’m not sure who the dude doing the bass vocal part is, but be careful, he might just shake your fillings loose. Here too, is the vocal-only track of Ball Of Confusion. Gold x 2!!
Theres tons of this stuff out there. I probably should keep these back, there’s about a month’s worth of posts here….
The Spinners vocal take of the Stevie Wonder-penned It’s A Shame. Gold!
The Four Tops vocal take of Walk Away Renee. Gold!
The Velvelettes vocal take of Needle In a Haystack. The handclaps don’t stop from start to finish! Gold!
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles vocal take of Tears Of a Clown. Gold!
Diana Ross & the Supremes vocal take of Baby Love. Gold! (New link 15.10.10)