The 10 Greatest Motown Songs

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Martha and the Vandellas, “Jimmy Mack” (1966): Few hits in the Motown canon have as many backstories and multiple meanings as the Vandellas’ last Top 10 hit. 

The Originals, “Baby, I’m for Real” (1969): The Originals only appeared as backup singers through most of the Sixties.

The Marvelettes, “Too Many Fish in the Sea” (1964): The Marvelettes were cool customers — not the kind of girls to plead or beg.

Marvin Gaye, “Trouble Man” (1972): The early 1970s were the glory days of blaxploitation flicks and their soundtracks: Shaft had Isaac Hayes.

Dennis Edwards feat. Siedah Garrett, “Don’t Look Any Further” (1984): Here lies yet another of the earth-shaking rhythm sections in Motown’s massive discography.

Eddie Kendricks, “Girl You Need a Change of Mind (Part 1)” (1972): A dance-floor filler to this day, “Girl You Need a Change of Mind” builds for several minutes before reaching an wordless peak.

The Velvelettes, “He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin'” (1964): Formed at Western Michigan University, the Velvelettes never found the success of the Marvelettes.

Rick James and Teena Marie, “Fire and Desire” (1981): Rick James wrote this ballad about a torrid affair with an Ethiopian princess. 

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, “Shop Around” (1960): If you want to hear how Berry Gordy fine-tuned Detroit R&B for wider (and whiter) pop appeal without watering it down.

Rare Earth, “I Just Want to Celebrate” (1971): In search of rock cred at the end of the Sixties, Motown started a subsidiary label, Rare Earth, named after one of its first signings, a Detroit band.

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