Forever: The Complete Motown Albums, Vol. 1

by: The Marvelettes

Hip-O Select's 2009 triple-disc set Forever: The Complete Motown Albums, Vol. 1 rounds up all the LPs the Marvelettes released between 1961 and 1963 -- 1961's Please Mr. Postman, The Marvelettes Sing, and Playboy both released in 1962, 1963's The Marvelous Marvelettes, and On Stage: Recorded Live -- plus the stereo version of 1966's Greatest Hits and a bunch of mono singles and rarities. The Vol. 1 in the set signals that the Marvelettes had a second run at Motown later in the decade, highlighted by the this "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game" and "My Baby Must Be a Magician," but this has everything from the band's prime period, running from 1961 to 1965, the time when they rivaled the Supremes as the greatest girl group Motown had to offer. That rivalry wasn't merely commercial but creative, too, with their very best singles -- "Please Mr. Postman," "Beechwood 4-5789," "Too Many Fish in the Sea," "Danger: Heartbreak Dead Ahead" -- holding their own with the Supremes, but the revelation of Forever: The Complete Motown Albums, Vol. 1 is that the trio had a consistent catalog, sounding beguiling when they covered hits by Clyde McPhatter ("Lover Please") and Roy Orbison ("Dream Baby") and benefiting tremendously from Motown's deep songwriting bench, cutting lots of tunes from Smokey Robinson, Norman Whitfield, Brian Holland, and Lamont Dozier and Berry Gordy, many of them never turning into hits but existing as strong examples of the label's craft. If anything, this set is a testament to the power of Motown's assembly line, with the writers, producers, and musicians working steadily, always attempting to better their last effort, always blessed by the harmonies and the charisma of the Marvelettes, a group that may have lacked the magnetism of the Supremes but compensated by their girl-next-door charm, something that shines through all three discs of this set. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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