The special relationship that developed between the Tamla Motown label and its British devotees was in full effect once again in October 1970. And how about this line-up, all on the same No. 1 record: The Four Tops, Diana Ross with and without and the Supremes, Marvin Gaye with and without Tammi Terrell, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, Jimmy Ruffin, Jr. Walker and the All Stars and the Jackson 5. The album in question was the latest in the British compilation series, Motown Chartbusters Volume 4.
After a slow start to its British story in which early Motown releases were licensed by various labels including London and Stateside, Berry Gordy’s company had a commercial and physical presence of its own in the UK market from 1965 onwards. As big hits accrued for their key artists, a number of early collections were followed in 1967 by the first British Motown Chartbusters anthology. In those days in which compilation LPs were allowed into the same chart as releases by individual artists, it reached No. 4 and amassed 54 weeks among the bestsellers.
It was just over a year before a second volume reached No. 8, with a much more modest 11-week shelf life, but as the series dropped the word “British” from its title, Volume 3 became a huge success in the autumn of 1969, topping the chart and going gold with an epic 93-week run.
When Volume 4 emerged in October 1970, Motown’s preeminence was inarguable, with an impressive array of big hits with which to stock each new collection. All-time Tamla classics that were on the album included ‘I Want You Back,’ ‘I Can’t Get Next To You,’ ‘Someday We’ll Be Together’ and ‘Cloud Nine.’
The result was another chart-topper, a 40-week run and the continuation of a series that produced a further No. 1 with Volume 5. The original volumes continued until the ninth edition in 1974, with three more added in the early 1980s. These very British mementoes of Motown’s transatlantic popularity were so fondly-remembered that they were reissued by Universal’s Spectrum label in 1997.
Motown Chartbusters Volume 4 can be bought here.
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