Album: Various Artists

Power to the Motown People! MOTOWN
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The Independent Culture

There's a sense in which Motown's very existence - as a black-owned enterprise which managed to shoulder its way to global dominance - made as big a political statement as any of the 30 anti-war and freedom anthems collected on this double-album. Not that founder Berry Gordy would have acknowledged that at the time; he just wanted Motown to be "the Sound of Young America", and was dubious when the likes of Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye suggested that status carried with it certain ethical obligations. But once persuaded, Gordy's company got firmly behind the programme, with even his golden girls The Supremes tackling social issues. This compilation courageously avoids the most obvious anthems, opting instead for lesser-known gems like Reuben Howell's clavinet funk groove "Help the People" and Eddie Kendricks' afro-drum chant "My People... Hold On", and alternative versions of hits: Edwin Starr's "Cloud Nine" rather than The Temptations', for instance.