Motown Gold From the Ed Sullivan Show


Consider this, if you will: Ed Sullivan belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Although hunched, puffy and decidedly unhip, he did more than any other to bring a generation’s worth of pop, rock and soul into America’s living rooms through his weekly Sunday-night TV variety program—most obviously Elvis and the Beatles, of course, but also a wealth of African-American performers who were otherwise virtually shut out from mainstream exposure. The two-DVD Motown Gold From the Ed Sullivan Show corrals vintage 1960s and early-’70s clips from a stellar lineup of major Motown acts: Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, Martha Reeves and a 13-year-old Stevie Wonder, already blowing virtuosic harp on his debut hit “Fingertips Pt. 2.”

Another youngster, Michael Jackson (along with his brothers in the Jackson 5) is introduced via the career-launching “I Want You Back.” Jackson’s unbridled dynamism and artistic maturity remain a wonder to behold even today—was there ever any doubt the boy was headed for immortality? Sullivan insisted on his guests performing live, and the mostly color clips remind us that these singers were no studio puppets. Raw talent and soul are evident every time such giants as the Tops’ Levi Stubbs and the Temps’ Eddie Kendricks grab the mic. So, too, is the poise drilled into the Motown stable: The choreography may seem basic by today’s standards, the fashions quaint, but the Detroiters’ disciplined professionalism dazzles throughout. –J. Tamarkin

comment closed

Copyright © 2011 M Music & Musicians Magazine ·