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Marvin Gaye

​Al Abrams: Motown's first press officer

Al Abrams, who has died of cancer, was the founding press officer and publicist for Motown Records. Born in Detroit, home of the label, he was the first person to be hired by founder Berry Gordy Jnr, before the company officially existed. He promoted records to Detroit disc jockeys and went on to direct media relations at the label, handling stars like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Miracles and the Supremes. 

Julie Burchill: The unions have been demonised, so the bullies have

As I think I might have mentioned before, I come from a trades union family, and while my dad had the theory down and wasn't above a bit of secondary picketing, my mother lived and breathed the struggle for workers' rights. Or, as we call it today, Going Off On One Big Time.

Teena Marie: Singer and songwriter who became Motown’s most

Teena Marie wasn't the first white female singer signed to Berry Gordy Jr's legendary Motown label – the Californian Chris Clark and British vocalist Kiki Dee preceded her in the 1960s – but she certainly had the most impact, blazing a trail for many of the crossover R&B to pop artists who followed.

Album: José James, Blackmagic (Brownswood)

Sounding more confident, soulful and sexy than on his debut The Dreamer, NYC vocalist José James teams up with hip nu-jazz producers including Flying Lotus and Moodyman on 13 original tunes where the minimal backings emphasise his debt to Marvin Gaye rather than Gil Scott-Heron.

Album: Laura Nyro & Labelle, Gonna Take A Miracle (Rev-Ola)

Singer-songwriter Laura Nyro was renowned for blue-eyed soul standards such as "Stoned Soul Picnic" and "Wedding Bell Blues" when, in 1971, she decamped to Philadelphia International studio to record this album of soul covers with the PI production team of Gamble & Huff, taking along her new friends Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash.

DVD: Flight of the Conchords: Series Two (15)

If you've not heard "Business Time", a song vaunting the pleasures of getting it on in as hormone-pumping a manner as Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On", then check out the second outing from New Zealand's fourth most popular folk parody duo.

Album: The Gossip, Music For Men, (Columbia)

If you're only gonna have one trick, make it a good 'un. The Gossip's template – Beth Ditto's almost absurdly soulful vocals set against an urgent rock-disco backing – hasn't altered significantly on their Rick Rubin-produced fourth album.

Album: Raphael Saadiq, The Way I See It (Columbia)

When he joined his brother and cousin in R&B trio Tony! Toni! Toné, Charlie Ray Wiggins sensibly decided he could do with a more exotic name, but only acquired it in stages, becoming first Raphael Wiggins before achieving a more persuasive cachet as Raphael Saadiq, the name under which he has become one of R&B's most sought-after producers.

Album: Leon Ware, Moon Ride, (Stax)

Leon Ware did the bulk of the production work on Marvin Gaye's 'I Want You' album, so if you're familiar with that achy shimmer of silky soul, you already have some idea of what 'Moon Ride' sounds like.

More headlines

My Secret Life: Lennie James, Actor, age 42

The home I grew up in... was a bog-standard, turn-of-the-century terraced council house, converted into flats. My mother, brother and I lived upstairs, an Irish man lived downstairs, with a Jamaican family to our left and a Greek family to our right.