UK Tamla Motown singles Part 3: Stateside

UK Tamla Motown singles Part 3: Stateside

This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series Collectors Corner 2

“I’ll be doggone! – UK Tamla Motown singles Pt.3: TMG500 Series”

 

At the end of the second part of our trawl through the near-perfect run of soul classics released in the UK from the USA stable of record labels (Tamla, Motown, Gordy and Soul), boss Berry Gordy had just put pen to paper for EMI in Britain to follow Decca’s lead (with Atlantic the previous year) and launch Tamla Motown as a stand alone label to release the labels hits pouring out of the USA in the UK. With much fanfare, and with a corresponding (and very poorly attended at times) package tour featuring The Supremes, Martha & The Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, Miracles and the Earl Van Dyke six, March 1965 saw the first six records pressed and released to a British public becoming more and more interested in the soul sounds pouring out of the other side of the Atlantic. TMG 501 was the first release, with its iconic black and silver label, large 45 rpm on the right-hand side, and clad in a beautiful orange / white company sleeve. Things couldn’t have got off to a better start as The Supremes “Stop! in the name of love” hurtled up the charts to number 7, followed swiftly by Martha & The Vandellas “Nowhere to run” which reached #26 at the same time. Thus started a near perfect run of singles, commonly known as the TMG 500 series, which have been avidly collected by record hoarders ever since.

The Supremes quickly established themselves as the labels biggest hitmakers, frequently hitting the top ten throughout the decade, including 500 series favorites “You can’t hurry love” and “You keep me hanging on”. They were soon followed by The Four Tops who hit the charts with “I can’t help myself”, “It’s the same old song” and in 1966, having the first bonafide Tamla Motown UK number one with “Reach out I’ll be there”. Other artists began to have minor hits too, The Miracles “Going to a go-go”, Stevie Wonder’s thumping “Uptight (everything’s alright)”, Marvin Gaye’s “Little darling” and The Temptations “Beauty is only skin deep” all reaching the charts. The same artists also gave us some very sought after rarities too, as they all had flop releases at the same time. The Supremes “Love is like an itching in my heart”, Four Tops “Ask the lonely”, Marvin’s “I’ll be doggone” and The Temptations “Get ready” always fetch good money with collectors, even though they do turn up for sale quite often.

After a great start, the label had more hit & miss luck releasing singles, with 1965 seeing quite a few record releases selling almost nothing then later becoming sought after “lost” classics on the northern soul scene. Early release must haves include Kim Weston’s “I’m still loving you” (TMG511), Brenda Holloway “When I’m gone” (TMG510), Shorty Long’s “Out to get you” (TMG512), The Hit Pack “Never say no to your baby” (TMG514), Choker Campbell “Mickey’s monkey” (TMG517) and The (Detroit) Spinners “Sweet thing” (TMG514). Most of these early singles hit £100+ when they come up for sale, which isn’t very often! The rest of 1965 saw a flurry of good selling releases from label favorites, with The Contours and The Marvelettes also getting in on the action. Four very poor selling releases stand out amongst this run of classics, none of which are easy to find. Billy Eckstine “Had you been around” (TMG533), Dorsey Burnette “Jimmy Brown” (TMG534), The Lewis Sisters “You need me” (TMG536) and Tony Martin “The bigger your heart is” (TMG537) are all sought after, mainly due to rarity as they aren’t amongst the best of the labels’ releases!

As 1966 came around the label continually released great records with varying degrees of success. Joining the artists mentioned above saw releases by Kim Weston, Shorty Long, Gladys Knight & The Pips and, with one of Motown’s greatest ever songs in “This old heart of mine”, The Isley Brothers. Some notable, and scarce releases this year included Kim Weston’s Northern favourite “Helpless” (TMG554), The Contours “Just a little misunderstanding” (TMG564), The Elgins “Heaven must have sent you” (TMG583) and Gladys Knight & The Pips masterpiece “Just walk in my shoes” (TMG576). Hardly a duff release was pressed at all up to TMG599 in March 1967, such was the stellar amount of talent pouring out of Detroit at the time. This is partly why this period of Motown releases is so sought after. Although collecting “the hits” can be done quite cheaply and easily as the label sold tonnes of 45’s in the mid to late 60’s in Britain, completing the set does require quite a fat wallet! Black label stock copies are generally a lot cheaper (though not always easier to find) than the very sought after iconic Red A label demo discs which were pressed in very small numbers and are much cherished by UK soul release connoisseurs. The main exception to this rule is the Spinners “Sweet thing” which is near impossible to find as a stock copy. Monetary value aside, a complete collection is a sight (and sound) to behold, and once complete you’ll be in possession of one of the best ever set of musical releases ever. Happy Motown hunting!


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James Clark

Loves collecting records. My main loves are 50's rock'n'roll, 60's soul and r'n'b, beat, mod and psych and hopefully will be sharing some nuggets with you over the next few months. Apart from being a vinyl junkie I'm a Arsenal obsessive and a hopelessly romantic drunkard, but don't let put you off, we all have our faults.

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July 3, 2017 By : Category : Articles,Club Soul,Front Page,Music,Picks,Reviews,UK,USA Tags:, , , ,
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