is coming to Detroit. This is something that has been drilled into the grey matter of every Detroiter for the past three years. What other fitting way to celebrate the Motown legacy and rich history of Detroit music than have the Rolling Stones
perform at halftime? Easy! You tear down the former headquarters of Motown! Granted, it’s not Hitsville USA by any stretch..but to tear down the structure to make way for Super Bowl parking speaks volumes to the lack of preservation efforts and the agenda of a mayor hell bent on burning Detroit to the ground. More so.
The Donovan Building was constructed in 1922 by Albert Kahn, the man responsible for many of the buildings that grace the minute Detroit skyline. In 1968, Berry Gordy purchased the building to serve as the administrative anchor to Motown. Here all of the non-recording/artist development stuff took place. This was short lived though, as Gordy already has his sights set on conquering Hollywood and the motion picture industry. His efforts gave us the totally awesome The Last Dragon
, Mahogany, and The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings. In 1972, he decided to move the entire operation west (contrary to popular belief, he was never as loyal to Detroit as some people perceived), and the building was all but abandoned by the mid seventies.
The always excellent Detroit blog
has photos of their excursion into the vacated building, along with a gorgeous eulogy.Toybreaker
also scanned in several artifacts from a recent pillage past security trucks just hours prior to demolotion and some photos of the old beauty
shining in the floodlights.
Meanwhile, while some things are being destroyed, other things at Motown HQ are being resurrected. 2005 saw a furious onslaught of anthologies and reissues from the label, thanks in no small part to Harry Weinger’s passion for the gold that’s in the mines and the surrender of the Motown catalog from Gordy’s paws.
A brief survey from 2005: An expanded edition of Teena Marie’s Wild And Peaceful, two Lost and Found archive collections from the Four Tops and Martha Reeves, a never before issued version of Marvin Gaye Live at The Copa, no less than three box sets featuring the complete singles from 1959-1963, a two disc collection of Motown artists taking a stab at the Motown songbook, and the first three solo albums from both Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin. UK fans got spoiled beyond belief with anthologies of Brenda Holloway, Chris Clark, Chuck Jackson and Kim Weston, as well as a second installment of A Cellarful of Motown, without takes from the later sixties sessions.
It's a genius move by Motown, as the people who can truly want all of these reissues are now in an age and income bracket where they can afford to pay the sometimes steep prices. And they're eating it up, too. 2006 shows no signs of the reissue streak slowing down any time soon. With Studio A running almost 24-7 for a decade, there's no shortage of quality material that will keep Northern Soul fans pacified.
I’m personally waiting for the sixth installment of Motown’s Cellarful series. Hopefully there’s some quality moments from Switch
, DeBarge, Jermaine and Rockwell
waiting to be plucked and dipped in digital sauce. And hopefully by that time I'll be able to swim upstream like the rest of the seniors and purchase gleefully without trading in discs or having a measured debates between a heating bill and another two disc import.
Thanks for reading.