Monday, May 25, 2009
Sibling Rivalry - The District
From the District Weekly - (5/20/09)
From the percussive wars of Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich to the venomous barbs brandished between Jay-Z and Nas, a little musical competition always benefits the listener. Without rivalries, friendly or not, the world may have been deprived of such important works as Pet Sounds and “Sweet Home Alabama.”
At Motown Records in the 1960s, under the watchful eye of enterprising young Berry Gordy, there was constant pressure to produce hits. There were two primary songwriting factions at work in the Hitsville studio: velvet-voiced Smokey Robinson and the mighty Holland-Dozier-Holland. Robinson had been with the Motown organization since its inception, having co-written music with Gordy in the late ‘50s. He wrote most of the songs for his own band the Miracles (“Shop Around,” “I Second That Emotion,” “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me”), as well as for other performers in the fleet such as Mary Wells, Marvin Gaye and Brenda Holloway.
Holland-Dozier-Holland were songwriters Lamont Dozier and the two Holland brothers, Brian and Edward. Their partnership resulted in such hits as “Heat Wave,” “Where Did Our Love Go” and “This Old Heart of Mine.” Their production and songwriting skills were essentially what defined the Motown sound, along with the Funk Brothers in the mid-1960s: smooth harmonies, tight rhythms and an omnipresent tambourine.
Appropriately enough, both the Temptations and the Four Tops were from Detroit. The Temps, with their high-intensity dance moves and outrageous costumes, found success with Smokey. “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “My Girl” and “Get Ready” all worked their way into the top 10. Fronted by silky-smooth baritone Levi Stubbs, the Tops sang some of H-D-H’s greatest hits: “I Can’t Help Myself,” “Reach Out I’ll Be There” and “Standing in the Shadows of Love.”
Now more than 50 years old, Motown enjoys its status as one of the most important American record labels ever. Not as gritty as Stax or Chess, Motown found success courting suburban teenagers with its motto “the sound of young America.” Without the hard work of the Four Tops and the Temptations, Motown’s legacy would not be nearly as valuable.
THE TEMPTATIONS AND THE FOUR TOPS CERRITOS CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS 12700 CENTER COURT DR CERRITOS 90703 562.916.8501 CERRITOSCENTER.COM FRI-SAT 8PM $46-68
Sibling Rivalry @ the District