DJ Soul Sister presents overlooked Motown funk, disco and R&B from the label’s Los Angeles tenure.
DJ Soul Sister digs into the vast Motown catalog of funk, disco and R&B recorded and released between the mid-1970s and the mid-1980s, after the label relocated from Detroit to Los Angeles. Listen in for rarities from Dazz Band, Eddie Kendricks, Syreeta, Jermaine Jackson and the Commodores, among others.
Dazz Band - Let the Music Play (1981)
Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, the group released two albums for 20th Century Fox Records under the name Kinsman Dazz before being signed to Motown Records, where it changed its name to the Dazz Band. “Kinsman” referred to the Kinsman Grill, where the group worked as a house band before getting a recording contract. “Dazz” was a combination of “danceable jazz.”
Switch - You Pulled a Switch (1978)
Originally called White Heat, and featuring members of the legendary Debarge musical family, the group was dropped from producer Barry White’s production company. But the group’s demo tape found its way to Jermaine Jackson, which led to their signing with Motown subsidiary Gordy Records.
Eddie Kendricks - Body Talk (1975)
Eddie Kendricks found initial success as The Temptations’ acclaimed falsetto vocalist. He left the group in 1970 to pursue a solo career. This song is from his sixth solo LP, The Hit Man, released on Motown subsidiary Tamla Records.
Willie Hutch - Love Me Back (1975)
Willie Hutch enjoyed great success as a songwriter, arranger, and producer for various Motown artists in the 1970s, such as The Jackson 5, Michael Jackson, and Smokey Robinson. During the decade, he also recorded eight solo albums for the label, including the film soundtracks for The Mack and Foxy Brown.
Jermaine Jackson - Feel the Fire (Burning from Me to You) (1977)
When the Jackson 5 left Motown for Epic Records in 1975, big brother Jermaine decided to break from his family and stay with the label. Between 1972 and 1982, he released nine solo albums for Motown, which featured his work as a vocalist, bassist, and producer.
Ozone - Keep on Dancin’ (12” version) (1981)
Originally from Nashville, the members of Ozone were discovered by Billy Preston and signed to Motown Records in 1980. In addition to recording five albums for the label, the band appeared on Teena Marie’s Lady T and Irons in the Fire LPs. In return, Teena produced and co-wrote several songs for the group’s 1981 album, Send It. On this extended 12” version of one of those tunes, Teena adds vocal ad-libs.
Finished Touch - Sunshine Love (1978)
Finished Touch was a studio group that released only one album of songs, all penned by songwriters who were contracted to Jobete Music, the publishing arm of Motown Records. Former Graham Central Station member Patryce “Choc’let” Banks would remake “Sunshine Love” for her 1980 solo LP, She’s Back and Ready.
Ronnie McNeir - Say You Will (1976)
Gifted keyboardist and vocalist Ronnie McNeir only released one album for Motown Records, 1976’s Love’s Comin’ Down. Tracks that were recorded and intended for a follow-up release on the label were, unfortunately, shelved.
Syreeta - Move It, Do It (1981)
Syreeta Wright first came into public view as Stevie Wonder’s wife (1970-1972) and frequent collaborator and co-writer (The Spinners’ “It’s a Shame;” Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered;” Wonder’s “If You Really Love Me;” Wonder’s “You’ve Got it Bad, Girl”). They continued to work together throughout the decade and, in 1980, she sang on Wonder’s “As If You Read My Mind” from his Hotter Than July album. This song is from Syreeta’s Set My Love in Motion, which was produced by prolific drummer Ollie E. Brown, an original member of Raydio.
G.C. Cameron - Let’s Run Away Together (1977)
G.C. Cameron was an original lead singer with The Spinners, where he was featured on their hit “It’s a Shame” (1970). When the Spinners left Motown in 1971, he stayed with the label. He recorded four albums there, and was also featured on the Cooley High soundtrack (“It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday”).
The Supremes - Sweet Dream Machine (1976)
When Diana Ross announced in 1970 that she would be leaving The Supremes to pursue a solo career, the group remained at Motown and continued to record. Various Supremes were introduced throughout the 1970s, with only original Mary Wilson maintaining a consistent presence. This song, from the group’s final album, represents the last incarnation of the Supremes, which also included Scherrie Payne (sister of Freda) and Susaye Green The group would officially disband for good in 1977.
Lenny Williams - Since I Met You (1975)
Lenny Williams is known for his work as Tower of Power’s lead vocalist from 1972-1975. His focus on establishing a solo career included just one album for Motown, Rise Sleeping Beauty. “Since I Met You” features a guest appearance by the Tower of Power horns. He would have greater solo successes on other labels with songs like “Cause I Love You” and “Shoo Doo FuFu Ooh.”
Tata Vega - Love Your Neighbour (1980)
Vocalist Tata Vega released four solo albums for Motown subsidiary Tamla Records between 1976 and 1980. This songs is from her final album with the label, Givin’ All My Love. However, she first recorded on Motown’s Natural Resources imprint as a member of Earthquire in 1972.
Stone City Band - Ladies Choice (1983)
Best known as Rick James’ studio and touring backing band, the Stone City Band released three LPs under their own name between 1980 and 1983. This song was the lead single from the group’s final album, Meet the Stone City Band! Out from the Shadow. It was not only produced, arranged, and written by James, but also featured a vibes solo from Roy Ayers. (Ayers also played vibes on James’ “Dance Wit’ Me,” released in 1982.)
Mandre - Third World Calling (Opus II) (1977)
Mandre was the brainchild of keyboardist Andre Lewis, which he formed after working with Maxayn, which featured his then-wife Maxayn Lewis. Mandre records, which also featured Maxayn, focused on a more synthesized style of funk, and he was promoted as being a faceless “mystery man from outer space” who wore a robotic mask. This song is from the first of three albums that were recorded for Motown.
Motown Sounds - Bad Mouthin’ (1978)
This song was the B-side of the only single released by studio group Motown Sounds, whose disco-styled Space Dance is the only album they ever put out. The song was also included during an episode of the TV sitcom Good Times.
Ozone - Gigolette (12” version) (1981)
Originally from Nashville, the members of Ozone were discovered by Billy Preston and signed to Motown Records in 1980. In addition to recording five albums for the label, the band appeared on Teena Marie’s Lady T and Irons in the Fire LPs. In return, Teena produced and co-wrote several songs for the group’s 1981 album, Send It. She’s featured on vocals throughout this song and, on this extended 12” version, she adds vocal ad-libs at the end.
Platinum Hook - Play With You (1979)
Between 1978 and 1980, Platinum Hook recorded three albums for Motown, though only two were released. This song is from 1979’s It’s Time, which was the final album of theirs that Motown would issue.
G.C. Cameron - Don’t You Want to Give It Up (1976)
G.C. Cameron was an original lead singer with The Spinners, where he was featured on their hit “It’s a Shame” (1970). When the Spinners left Motown in 1971, he stayed with the label. He recorded four albums there, and was also featured on the Cooley High soundtrack (“It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday”). This song also features background vocals from Deniece Williams.
Willie Hutch - In and Out (1982)
After recording eight solo albums for Motown in the 1970s, Willie Hutch left and recorded two LPs for Norman Whitfield’s Whitfield Records (1978 and 1979), before returning to Motown in 1982 for this single-only release.
Smokey Robinson - Why You Wanna See My Bad Side (1978)
After leaving the Miracles, lead vocalist Smokey Robinson continued to record solo albums for Motown subsidiary Tamla Records throughout the 1970s and 1980s. This opening track from his Love Breeze LP shows Robinson in a rare electro-disco style.
Finished Touch - Need to Know You Better (1978)
Finished Touch was a studio group that released only one album of songs, all penned by songwriters who were contracted to Jobete Music, the publishing arm of Motown Records.
The Commodores - Girl I Think the World About You (1976)
Despite the massive commercial success that the Commodores enjoyed on Motown during the 1970s, their releases always included deep album cuts that should never be overlooked, like this one. Sampled by De La Soul for “Buddy,” included on their 1989 debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising.
Jr. Walker - All the Way (1978)
Saxophonist Jr. Walker recorded several hits for Motown subsidiary Soul Records in the 1960s. Though he no longer had chart-topping success in the 70s, he continued to record for Soul until 1978, when he released Smooth, which is where this song is taken from. Like Willie Hutch, he left Motown to record for Norman Whitfield’s Whitfield Records, and released one album there in 1979, Back Street Boogie. He returned to Motown for one final album release in 1983.