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by Jason Gubbels

January 17, 2014

Motown Nuggets, Vol. 3: 1967

by Jason Gubbels  |  January 17, 2014

Motown Nuggets is a multipart series highlighting lesser-known corners of the Motown warehouse: deep album cuts and flipside goodness from the early days of the long-player and the glory years of the single.

Even if American eyes were shifting away from Detroit and west toward San Francisco as the Summer of Love descended upon airwaves and record shops, 1967 was another banner year for Motown Records and Berry Gordy's talent fleet. To be sure, careful ears will note hints of psychedelia beginning to creep into the production values -- aside from garage rock singles from Michigan band The Underdogs and future northern soul idol R. Dean Taylor, check out the snarling fuzz guitar on The Isley Brothers obscurity "Got to Have You Back," the quasi-acid rock structure of The Temptations' "Sorry Is a Sorry Word," and the nearly baroque-psych contortions of Tammi Terrell's offbeat "There Are Things."

But it was also business as usual for the label, meaning more era-defining hits from Motown superstars -- Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," Smokey Robinson's "I Second That Emotion," The Supremes' "Reflections," Stevie Wonder's "I Was Made to Love Her" and Gladys Knight & The Pips' version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" all charted in 1967.

There were so many goodies that plenty of solid tracks found themselves on the ignored flipside. We've restored some of these to prominence here, such as Smokey Robinson's gorgeous ballad "Swept for You Baby," The Four Tops' outrageously melodramatic "7 Rooms of Gloom" and Marvin Gaye's slow-burning "You." Plus, Barbara McNair tries her hand at the otherwise Supremes-identified "My World Is Empty Without You," The Temptations glance back at old-school doo-wop on "Don't Send Me Away" and Shorty Long blasts his way through a soul version of perennial rockabilly favorite "Chantilly Lace." Meanwhile, some ungainly studio concoction called The San Remo Golden Strings glide across "Festival Time." Ah, that wacky Summer of Love.

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