Arts and Entertainment Dusty, Heard Them Here First

Various Artists, Ace: An entertaining and inspiring collection

'Thriller' was the masterpiece that set tone for pop's next generation

Roused from sleep with the shocking, if not entirely surprising, news that Michael Jackson was gone, I was halfway through my bowl of cereal when the inevitable happened.

Michael Jackson: Singer whose personal troubles overshadowed his status as one of pop's greatest performers

Michael Jackson, an icon of popular music culture since the late 1960s and one of its leading creative influences in the 1980s, had by the 1990s undergone a disturbing metamorphosis which threatened to overshadow the impact his considerable artistic contributions.

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: Lightning Seeds, Four Winds (Universal)

Given that Four Winds is his first album in a decade, one could be forgiven for wondering what Ian Broudie's been up.

Uriel Jones: One of the Funk Brothers and the last of the great Motown drummers

Uriel Jones was the last surviving member of the "Motown three", the triumvirate of drummers who put the backbeat to the hundreds of recordings coming out of Hitsville USA in Detroit in the Sixties and early Seventies. He proved a more than able deputy and eventual replacement for the dynamic but troublesome Benny Benjamin, who died in 1969, and alternated with Richard "Pistol" Allen, the drummer favoured by the producers and songwriters Lamont Dozier and Brian and Eddie Holland, who died in 2002.

Album: Shontelle, Shontelligence, (SRC/Universal Motown Island)

Hailing from the same Barbadian diaspora that brought us Rihanna, Shontelle Layne was discovered by Rihanna's management team of Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken when a song she wrote, "Roll It", proved the hit of the island's Crop Over Carnival for soca star Alison Hinds.

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.

Motown Season, Radio 2

All the hits, and a doo-wop of history too

Waiting more than a century for change

Ann Nixon Cooper, the 106–year–old Atlanta woman whose long life was put on an international stage in Barack Obama's sweeping victory speech, had declared she "ain't got time to die" – because she wanted to watch a black man elected president of the United States.

Levi Stubbs: Lead singer of the Four Tops whose powerful vocals helped define the Motown sound

At the height of the Swinging London era one song so overpowered the UK music scene that 1966 was deemed the year of "Reach Out I'll Be There". The American group that unleashed the hit was the Four Tops and the singer who powered the song was Levi Stubbs, whose voice has been described by Smokey Robinson as "one of the greatest of all time."

Richard 'Popcorn' Wylie: Tamla Motown pioneer who became a cult hero for Northern Soul fans

The pianist, songwriter, producer, bandleader and occasional singer Richard "Popcorn" Wylie was in at the birth of Tamla Motown. He played on "Shop Around", a 1961 hit for the Miracles, on "Please Mr Postman", a US chart-topper in the same year by the Marvelettes, and also cut a rollicking cover version of Barrett Strong's "Money (That's What I Want)", the label's début hit.

Big wheel: 100 years of the Motor City

Detroit got Americans on the road and gave the world Tamla Motown. It's also the gateway to the spectacular shores of the Great Lakes. Ben Ross hits the highways of Michigan

The seven ages of love: 60s

Love: 60. The concept is as improbable in life as it would be in a tennis score. The two go together like my cat and the Large Hedron Collider. Or so I thought four decades ago when I was 22 and a review copy of a book on "Sex for the over-sixties" was sent in to the magazine where I worked. The features editor, as a diversion from his own shameful secret that he was over 30, had much fun in thinking of elderly, female literary agents to whom he might forward it anonymously. In the Sixties, nobody could possibly be in their sixties. Even my parents weren't that antique. Like The Beatles, I took "When I'm 64" to mean "When pigs fly over the Abbey Road studios".

Norman Whitfield: Songwriter and producer who added a political edge to Motown

While Brian and Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier defined "The Sound Of Young America" which was championed by mid-sixties Tamla Motown, the songwriter and producer Norman Whitfield took Berry Gordy Jr.'s label in a whole new direction with the psychedelic soundscapes he created for The Temptations, The Undisputed Truth, Edwin Starr and Rare Earth in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

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