Motown Around The World: The Classic Singles
Like many pop sensations of the '60s, Motown's impact was global, not local: the sound of the Motor City spread across America and then the U.K., opening doors in Europe that Berry Gordy ran through by having many of his artists re-record their hits in Italian, German, French, and Spanish. Hip-O Select's 2010 set Motown Around the World rounds up 38 of these oddities -- almost all dating from the '60s apart from a pair of "bonus tracks" from Jermaine Jackson and Smokey Robinson tacked onto the end, both sung in Spanish and dating from the early '80s -- in a handsomely produced double-disc package where the liner notes are cleverly presented as a mock passport. Such flair is collector bait, which is a fair assessment of the entire package: this is interesting stuff, but only if you're committed enough to spot the differences in mixes that are sometimes apparent, other times quite subtle, but almost always compelling only to the serious collector. For anybody who's not so dedicated, Motown Around the World is merely a curiosity that wears out its appeal rather quickly -- in fact, it's hard not to feel a little bit like Stevie Wonder on "I'm Wondering," who appears to be so tired of singing in Italian that he suddenly switches to English halfway through, returning to his comfort zone without explanation or apology.