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Hitsville USA, Vol. 1: The Motown Singles Collection 1959-1971
List Price: $51.98

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Product Description

Motown did so many things well in the '60s and early '70s that this overview of the label's smashes (and some lesser-known classics) practically demands four CDs. It gets them, too, filling them with single mixes of more than 100 tracks. That the running order begins with Barrett Strong's statement of purpose "Money (That's What I Want)" and ends with Marvin Gaye's statement of concern "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" says a lot about how far the company moved in its golden decade--but no more so than what the same two cuts' differences in sound get across. The company was able to blend the smooth and the harsh in ways that few other pop entities have ever mastered, thereby getting over not only to the feet and the wallet, but to the heart. --Rickey Wright

Customer Reviews:

  • Timeless, But Toneless....
    You can not fault the music. The songs included here all deserve a special place in music history. However, the sound quality leaves much to be desired. Every track is presented in the original mono version (this is not mentioned anywhere on the packaging);and, if any of the songs were "remastered" I would be very suprised. If you want to hear this music like you did the first time, in AM radio mono-quality sound, this is a great purchase. It might be best to search out "remastered" greatest hits releases from some of the individual artists included here if you can afford it....more info
  • This is the Motown sound!
    What is Motown all about? The answer lies within the music of this rather impressive line-up of songs on "Hitsville USA: The Motown Singles Collection 1959-1971." It's the story of how a gifted songwriter, Berry Gordy, Jr., makes his way on up the ladder of success spearheading one of if not the most successful
    of all R&B-based record companies during the golden age of American popular music. Detroit, Michigan, known as the Motor City, gained yet another nickname: Hitsville USA. Everyone referred to it as Motown. In this collection, all of the well-known groups (The Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Miracles, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Jr. Walker & the All-Stars, The Jackson 5) are represented as well as the known solo artists (Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells, Brenda Holloway). Included also are some wonderful one or two-shot wonders (Shorty Long, Brenda Holloway, Eddie Holland [of Motown's hit-making songwriting trio H-D-H], The Velvelettes, The Elgins, The Monitors, The Contours) and more. What's interesting about this set is that there are many of the well-known songs along with some songs that you probably just don't hear anymore or weren't that well-known. So you get your fair share of both like the Supremes' well-known "Baby Love" and Shorty Long's rare but wonderful "Function at the Junction." The downside of this set is nothing too alarming. Not all the artists' hit songs, big and small, are included and I think that's done so that other little-known-but-definitely-worth-discovering are given a chance at spin time, too; even some from the top artists, too. Think about it: if every single Motown record that made the charts was included, this collection would just balloon up, and there'd be no telling how far. So this is a very nice general overview of those first 12 and golden years of Motown. That's what this is all about: the general overview. Granted, if you want to investiagte further about a certain artist's music, there are numerous collections out there devoted just to them like the single "Ultimate Collection" CDs, or box collections of the artist. But, back to this one. Included within is a very nice 68-page booklet containing essays and phots of ALL the artists, plus musician credits, the track-by-track listing of the whole set, including original release date, label, and chart position.
    In the middle of the book the different 45s are pictured all together on a two-page spread which was neat, and on the cover are the picture sleeves. It was an unusual move to put no artists and only songs on the back of the individual discs. The same goes for the back of the box. The paper inserts of the CD cases are record labels that have just the label name: Gordy, Soul, Motown, Tamla. Still, out of all the Motown best of various artists collections, this is the big one! It's great party music and dance music. People young and old will love this. The sound on here is terrific and powerful, but, yes, it is in mono. If you look in the back of the booklet, there is noted that the original single masters were used (the 45 RPM versions), so what does that tell you? Nevertheless, the sound is strong for 1992 remastering. Together, this set is living proof that Motown wasn't just a hit-making machine of a record-company, it was a feeling!...more info
  • must have
    the baddest label ever.and the talent and the songs speak volumes of there impact.these songs are worldly treasures.who doesn't know motown? probably the single most important label in music history.these songs weren't only great but they also bridged racial&age gaps.true great work holds up for centurys and this one will continue thru all eternity.so much talent,genius&hardwork here....more info
  • Hitsville USA: The Motown Singles Collection 1959-1971
    The Motown Hits Collection is absolutely marvelous! It is a varied collection of memories and history of music in the 60's and 70's from the African-American perspective. It is music for those who enjoy excellent musical arrangements,clear and wholesome lyrics, and music that is filled with love and inspiration from the Motown writers, arrangers, and singers. Above all, it is tribute to Barry Gordy who founded Motown when our world was in racial and political turmoil. He reached in and made some sense of it all. Thanks to him, Smoky Robinson, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Ashford and Simpson, The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terell, Kim Weston, Mary Wells, Brenda Holloway, The Marvelettes, Martha and The Vanellas, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Temptations, Gladys Knight and The Pips, Diana Ross, and many others for making this magnificant music that we have today. This music is timeless and universal. It's guaranteed to please, to soothe, to stimulate, to conjure up memories, and to entertain your deepest sense of pleasure. Sit back, quiet your mind, listen, snap your fingers, stomp your feet as you journey into a galaxy of historical and musical delight. ...more info
  • Motown Greats
    After visitng the Motown Museum, this complilation of hits was just what we needed for great memories. Takes one back to their dancing days!...more info
  • Every track on this box set is in mono sound!
    Boy, what a disappointment!

    Every single one of these 104 songs are presented in their original mono sound, just as they were all those years ago. However, nowhere on the package does it mention this important fact.

    This would normally be a 5 STAR box, but because of the unadvertised mono sound, I give it only 3 stars!

    A little dishonesty there, Motown....more info

  • Poor mixes, poor sound
    Someone pointed out in another review that the songs are presented in the original mono versions. More than that, I also have the Chartbusters (12 cds) Mowtown compilation and in addition some old vinyl recordings, and I have noticed that the actual _mixes_ are not even the same as the original recordings. For instance, on Stevie Wonder's "For Once In My Life" and Glady Knight and the Pips' "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" there are parts that are just plain missing. I'm very disappointed, as my favorite songs do not sound at all as I remember them.
    Update: I listened again. I think I might have been mistaken when I said that parts were just plain missing. I think it's just that the mono versions actually bury things that come across more clearly in the stereo versions. It just a shame that the original record company couldn't have done a better job in light of the advent of the CD....more info
  • Mono, yes, but if you can get past that...
    I can understand those who just don't want to listen to mono recordings. Certainly, something is lost when you lose left-right soundstage. However, in comparing the stereo and mono versions of the same song, the mono ones sparkle, while the stereo ones are often quite oddly balanced. Many simply won't appreciate this difference, so they might prefer to get a CD with the stereo versions. However, for musical power, these mono masters pack a punch and are a blast to listen to. If you love the music and have an ear for the finer points of musical production, these are worth a good listen....more info
  • 5 stars x 2 = 10 stars
    I was born in Los Angeles in 1957,so I was pretty young when these songs came out. On Los Angeles AM radio in the early 60's. The top songs were easygoing safe stuff. Any time a Motown song came on you just had to dance,you couldn't help yourself. This HITSVILLE U.S.A. is the best collection of Motown hits by far. From the early days of Smokie Robinson & the Miracles,Supremes,Martha and the Vandellas,Four Tops and The Temptations to The Jackson five,Rare Earth. The standerd was always higher then anything else out there! Take it from the little white boy from LA who has kids of my own now. They hear these songs,and just have to dance.Todays music it's hard to find any music that will grab you this way,and not turn you lose. MAKES A GREAT GIFT,TOO! Thank you,JaminJim...more info
  • First rate Motown boxed set
    Classic cuts abound in this four disc boxed set. The biggest names in Motown soul are displayed here. A must own for any collector of early Motown and a great companion to Motown 2 (the later years)....more info
  • JUST CAN'T STOP DANCING! 10STARS!
    Growing up in Los Angelas in the early 60's. As a little boy all I had was my little transister radio to keep me intertained. We had Beach Boys,Beatles,4 seasons etc. etc. But when a Motown tune came on everybody just had to stop and dance. Little kids don't know anything about stereotypes,we just know what we wan't. And Motown was giving it up. Song after Song, Year after Year. From Smokey Robinson (Mickey's Monkey)to the Temptaitions (My Girl). Supremes ( Baby Love) to the only singer to bring a tear to my eye, Gladys Knight (Heard it through the grape vine). I bought this cd collection for my sisters birthday gift,But it just never made it that far.(I got her something else). The problem with disco in the seventys was.Someone was trying to force us to dance.Order us into it! But the Motown sound(as it was and still is called)just has a natural feel & grove to it, you just can't stop. Take it from a nice little white boy from LA,who is now a grown man with kids of his own. GOING TO A GO GO,EVERYBODY! A must for any multyplay disc machine, just push RANDOM SELECT,and go,baby,go THANK YOU VERY MUCH! JAMINJIM...more info
  • You cannot go wrong with this set
    Some have complained about the mono mix but for me this makes the set an even more fantastic trip down memory lane. Sounds like you're hearing it for the first time on a junky portable radio and that's the way I remember most of these songs.

    If you have to have the stereo mixes then you can get them in other box sets or on other single cd releases. Personally, I'd stay away from that sound. It just couldn't be the same.


    One warning for new listeners. These songs were meant to be played on 45 record players, am radios in cars or on jukeboxes. The mono sound mentioned above works its real magic in these settings. You can recreate a lot of the sound by playing these cds in your car but it just doesn't work on an ipod.

    None the less this is what made music special when I was a kid and I wouldn't trade the sound for stereo for a million bucks....more info
  • So Good it Needs No Review
    This collection is so awesome, that the only bad thing I can think to say about it is; it ends with 1971 so there are no later Temptation hits (Pappa was a Rolling Stone, etc.)

    For those of us who were around at the time, this collection immediately takes you back to then and there. Some of these songs, I had never heard with the clarity in which they were originally recorded.

    Nice "found items" too, like remembering that Rare Earth was one of the first, and only, predominantly white bands that recorded under the Motown label.

    A must-buy for all of us geezers who grew up listening to the music that came out of Berry Gordy's garage/basement....more info
  • Excellent,very comprehisive.
    every song I can remember. I've been looking for a motown collection for a long time and this is the best I've seen. Couldn't find one better. Whats great about these classics is the whole family can enjoy them and the box set simply lets you play great music preformed by great artists on and on....more info
  • All Hail the Funk Brothers
    IF I could give it more stars I would. This is the perfect companion to "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" the wonderful DVD that finally gives the 13 musicians who made all this beautiful music their propers.

    As some reviewers have said, some hits are missed. But that is an excuse to go out and pick up re-released Motown albums to really see what these guys are capable of laying down. If you think Stevie's "For Once in My Life" is a great tune, find the album "My Cherie Amour" and listen to the way The Brother's and Stevie turn Etta James' "At Last" into a heavy funk workout.

    Motown and Stax, along The Philidelphia International crew really said all that needs to be said about rhythm and blues. I spelled it out for a reason. The young kids don't know the music from a historical perspective anymore and modern pop is worse off for it.

    I am on my SECOND boxed set. Essential music for anybody who even claims to be educated on R&B....more info
  • The Classic Sound Of Motown
    A well-assembled box set containing just some of Motown's most golden and definitive classics. Nobody knew Motown Records was going to take off in the way it did. Berry Gordy intended to use his artists to break down the then racial barriers, intending to encapsulate a golden and distinct sound that would not only please a black audience but would too appeal to whites. Berry Gordys visions for the company paid off. Key artists like Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder attracted a huge following from both blacks and whites.

    Seemingly echoing the restrictions of ghetto life in Detroit (which is where Motown began) was the effective, bluesey Money (Thats What I Want) by Barret Strong, Motowns debut release. There is a raw, earthy feel to the classic that has stood the test of time impecably well. There is a strong injection of Rock and Roll on Motowns early releases though they found a more commercially favourable sound with vast elements of pop neatly blended into the production with The Marvelettes famous classic, Please Mr. Postman.

    The Marvelettes were Motowns premier female group and took the credit of delivering Motown its first chart topper. The Marvelettes didn't have an entirley successful run at Motown. Though they pumped out a sprinkling of fantastic hits eratically through the duration of the decade, their acheivements were pretty limited, probably as they were overshadowed by Martha Reeves And The Vandellas who too admitedly found themselves overshadowed by Motowns biggest act, Diana Ross And The Supremes. Both Martha and the Vandellas and Diana and the Supremes had individual and unique qualities of their own. A vast selection of Martha Reeves finest recordings turn up here from the sassy Come And Get These Memories, the pop masterpiece Heat Wave (though I have to admit I actually prefer Diana Ross' version of it which was featured on The Supremes Sing Holland Dozier Holland album) and the rolling Dancing In The Streets. Just listening to the sheer volume and power of Reeves voice makes you appreciate her often over-looked vocal talents. Diana Ross had a much softer soprano which had soulful qualities, oozing heavy emotion and genuine feeling that showed subtle hints of a raw vulnreability in her vocal delivery and neatly surfboarded along Motowns complex musical arrangements. Many of their classics are here including the finest of their career with the raw, gritty Love Child and their breathtakingly beautiful ballad, Someday We'll Be Together. Holland Dozier Holland was the main driving force behind a lot of Motowns most golden classics. They wrote and assembled some of the most remarkable pieces of music for both Diana Ross and the fantasic Four Tops.

    Lead singer of The Four Tops Levi Stubbs rocketing voice was just amazing and even managed to give you goose bumps. Several of their most famous classics turn up here including their pair of U.S chart toppers, I Can't Help Myself and the hauntingly atmospheric Reach Out I'll Be There.

    The Temptations were one of Motowns hottest and most versatile acts. The splitting of lead vocal duties between the smooth, sensuous sound of Eddie Kendricks falsetto combined with the explosive volume of David Ruffins more forceful delivery marked an interesting transistion in their work. Tracks like the jamming Get Ready and My Girl respectivley show up on this box set though also highlights some of their most exciting work from the early 70's with the undertones of hot, pulsating funk on Cloud Nine, which saw Dennis Edwards being lead vocalist after the swift departure of David Ruffin and the utterly fantastic classic, Ball Of Confusion, divulging into contemporary social issues.

    Smokey Robinson was a key artist at Motown who wrote some timeless music and was generally an all-round and highly versatile entertainer. Some of his most enthralling work is on here such as the infectious sounds of The Tears Of A Clown and the breathtakingly beautiful, The Tracks Of My Tears. Stevie Wonder was a sheer genius and some of his greatest work is included here, from the masterpiece production of Fingertips to the playful funk of Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours.

    Marvin Gaye was another one of Motowns definitive artists. His work progresed from the formulaic sounds of Motown on tracks like Stubborn Kind Of Fellow to the masterpiece of I Heard It Through The Grapevine to the profound political statements expressed on the timeless Whats Going On that is deservedly included on here.

    There is oddly only 1 offering from Diana Ross' solo career with the absolutley magnificent, golden Soul classic, Ain't No Mountin High Enough. Ashford and Simpson always knew how to make good records for Diana Ross and that tracks is one of the many landmarks in her career. You just get goose bumps as that exalting and rip-roaring climax builds and Diana effectivley talks through the verses, emphasising her truly sensual vocal style.

    This box set hosts so many classics thats its impossible to chronicle them all but there are some surprisingly rare features on here such as a version of I Can't Give Back The Love I Feel For You by Rita Wright (later covered by Diana Ross on her Surrender album) and some offerings from the over-looked Brenda Holloway. Amongst other familiar classics are the fantastic and the at-the-time controversial nature of Edwin Starr's rip-roaring War, the beautiful This Old Heart Of Mine Is Weak For You by the highly underated The Isley Brothers, the sensational ShotGun by Junior Walker And The All Stars who bought a unique touch of Jazz to their mainstream sound of Soul/R&B/Pop, Needle In A haystack by The Velvettes, ABC by The Jackson 5 (featuring a young, nasal sounding Michael Jackson),Stoned Love by Thr Supremes (possibly their best post-Ross recording featuring Jean Terrell as lead vocalist) and the unforgetable classic, Nowhere To Run by Martha Reeves And The Vandellas. The lists could go on and on and on but the whole box set deserves a thorough listen!

    Consistently bubbling with red hot, distinct and positivley infectious musical arrangements, Motown opened many doors for black singers and broke down many racial barriers. The golden Motown sound ceased to exist after its headquarters move from Detroit to L.A but all the magic is clearly encapsulated on here. Motown remains a key landmark in the history of black music and also made a significant impact in Pop music all together. Never has there been a record label that has managed to capture and encapsulate such a unique, distinct sound with such a wide range of diverse singing talents. The classics on here are timeless and enthralling. Hitsville USA: The Motown Singles Collection is both superb and timeless but also essential to any serious Soul/R&B collection!

    Ian Phillips

    ...more info
  • Very Fine Compilation
    This is a very good compilation showing the glorious history of this classic label between 59-71. Be warned these are all MONO mixes, if you want the modernised stereo versions get the 3 CD set entitled 'Capital Gold - Motown Classics'. However if you want the real thing this compilation is the one, although I do agree that they should go for it and issue a mammoth box set in the vein of the Stax-Volt 28 CD issue that would cover every base....more info