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The Beatles and Motown
9 November 2022
9.36am
Old Soak
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How critical do you think the interest of The Beatles was to the success of Motown, and tangentially to the whole Northern Soul scene in the UK? Given they recorded a significant amount of Motown material early on I can’t help but think they are at least partially responsible for popularising wider cultural acceptance of this great music.

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Von Bontee
10 November 2022
5.09pm
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vonbontee
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I thought “Northern Soul” was a term for obscure, overlooked American R&B recordings from the ’60s that were rediscovered by DJ’s in the north of England much later, perhaps the 70s, but I’m really not really knowledgeable about that whole phenomenon. 

As far as Motown, I’m sure the Beatles’ non-stop endorsement (see my signature below!) of those artists, and reverent covers of their material, not just Motown but other American r&b performers, with varying degrees of pop-chart success of their own, couldn’t have hurt. On the other hand, Berry Gordy’s label had already begun establishing itself as a growing pop-hit factory for a year or three before the Ed Sullivan show, remember, so maybe it would still have been as huge a success had the Beatles never existed. Or maybe they would’ve sold more records to American teens if there weren’t Beatles discs available for them to spend their allowances on?

No way of knowing, really, but I choose to believe that our boys opened everyone’s eyes and ears. 

Worth noting too that The Supremes had the most #1 hits of any non-Beatle act of the 1964-70 era. They out-guitared the Beatles in 1968, according to this article. And of course they recorded this:

utm_source=copy-link

GEORGE: In fact, The Detroit Sound. JOHN: In fact, yes. GEORGE: In fact, yeah. Tamla-Motown artists are our favorites. The Miracles. JOHN: We like Marvin Gaye. GEORGE: The Impressions PAUL & GEORGE: Mary Wells. GEORGE: The Exciters. RINGO: Chuck Jackson. JOHN: To name but eighty. 

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10 November 2022
6.10pm
Old Soak
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vonbontee said
I thought “Northern Soul” was a term for obscure, overlooked American R&B recordings from the ’60s that were rediscovered by DJ’s in the north of England much later, perhaps the 70s, but I’m really not really knowledgeable about that whole phenomenon. 

 

  

Obscure Motown is part of the Northern Soul phenomenon given the ‘right’ feel, although ‘hits’ are rigorously excluded by purists regardless of if the feel is correct simply because they weren’t obscure. Much is on lesser known, often regional labels and is quite often derivative of the Motown sound. The success of Motown seems to have spawned copyists, so indirectly I’d say there is a link.   

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vonbontee
10 November 2022
8.52pm
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Thanks for the info! Yeah, the Motown sound did spread beyond other labels and other locales besides just Michigan; and yeah not everything Tamla/Motown released was a hit. 

GEORGE: In fact, The Detroit Sound. JOHN: In fact, yes. GEORGE: In fact, yeah. Tamla-Motown artists are our favorites. The Miracles. JOHN: We like Marvin Gaye. GEORGE: The Impressions PAUL & GEORGE: Mary Wells. GEORGE: The Exciters. RINGO: Chuck Jackson. JOHN: To name but eighty. 

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