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Thursday 23rd February 2012

The Gospel All Stars – The Great Gospel All Stars (released Feb 20th)

History shows that the label that would play host to Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations and the Four Tops, among others, issued its very first album on The Great Gospel Stars.

When originally released in February 1961, the album was given a moderate sales potential review in Billboard, who described it as ‘Six fine female vocalists comprise this colourful aggregation, and a versatile and spirited group it is.’

As befits the first Tamla album, it is one of the most sought after items today.


The Twistin’ Kings – Twistin’ Around The World (released Feb 20th)

Only the second album ever released on the Motown label, Twistin’ The World Around was a blatant attempt to capitalise on the twist craze then sweeping across the country.

The individual track titles have little or no relevance – Twisting Ales Style and Twist Ala B.G. are obviously so named in deference to Barney Ales and Berry Gordy – but what makes this an important album is the quality of the playing.

You would expect nothing less from the Funk Brothers, featuring Thomas ‘Bean’ Bowles, Ron Wakefield, James Jamerson, Benny Benjamin et al, and they do not disappoint. It did not set the cash tills ringing when originally released but has been a much sought after item ever since.


The Miracles – Cookin’ With The Miracles (released Feb 20th)

With The Miracles having enjoyed success with Shop Around, an R&B chart topper and #2 pop hit, the Tamla label moved quickly to satisfy demand, releasing not one but two albums in 1961 alone.

The second of these was Cookin’ With The Miracles, one of only two Miracles albums that featured all six members on the cover of the sleeve. Largely written by Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy, the album featured two hit singles in Ain’t It Baby and Everybody’s Gotta Pay Some Dues.


Marv Johnson – More Marv Johnson (released Feb 20th)

Hot on the heels of Marvellous Marv Johnson comes More Marv Johnson.

Although Marv was now signed to the United Artists label, he could still rely on Berry Gordy to provide material, production and the musicians, with the Funk Brothers providing their usual crisp accompaniment.

This album contains what became Marv’s biggest stateside hit in I Love The Way You Love, a #2 R&B and #9 pop hit.


Various – Tamla Special No 1 (released Feb 20th)

Ordinarily, a label that merely gathers together the A and B sides of five or so of its recent output to assemble an album would not normally be of much interest, but when the label concerned is Tamla, then that is a different story.

Whilst several of the tracks will be almost instantly recognisable, such as Money and Shop Around, there are one or two surprises, especially both sides of the Singin’ Sammy Ward & Sherri Taylor single.

The rather simplistic artwork gives the impression that Tamla (part of Motown, in case you didn’t know) was using this as an introduction to the label rather than a real attempt to break into the album market, but it’s a historic release all the same.