Sunday, October 9, 2011

Review: 'Motown Gold from the Ed Sullivan Show'

After sitting through The 4 Complete Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Beatles and 6 Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Rolling Stones it’s kind of a relief to find that Motown Gold from the Ed Sullivan Show includes nothing but music. And I’m not talking about all the opera singers and polka bands and Bavarian folk choirs you’ll skip past on The Beatles and Stones DVDs. Motown Gold jams 37 performances by The Supremes, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Miracles, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Martha and the Vandellas onto its two discs. Historians may miss the cornball acts and vintage commercials teens had to endure while waiting for the pop. Everyone might take issue with the decision to jumble the chronology and fail to even provide dates for the performances. Those complaints are pretty lightweight in light of what is on these discs. The Four Tops sing “Reach Out, I’ll Be There” to a very cool galloping Samson and Delila-style orchestral backing. Smokey Robinson does an adorably stiff little dance to “Going to a Go-Go” and then leads the audience in an even more adorable chorus of “Ed Sullivan Show!” Ed breaks out some big sideburns to introduce Gladys Knight and the Pips, who all dress like Peter Pan for the occasion. The Temptations and some guest dancers perform a funky, elaborately choreographed routine. The Supremes make their final T.V. appearance with Diana Ross, who already looks miles away while lip-synching “Someday We’ll Be Together”. Eleven-year old Michael Jackson is just as seasoned beyond his years as the adult Michael would seem entombed in adolescence. A fascinating bonus feature finds Ed presenting Gladys Knight and the Pips at a Houston hospital where they unleash a scalding version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” while bedridden patients and stuffy doctors look on impassively. A fair share of the performances are totally live, but like every other pop act, the Motown artists were often forced to lip synch in the late ‘60s and ‘70s. Such performances are less electrifying, but getting to watch anyone as beautiful as Marvin Gaye or The Supremes shoveling cow manure would still be a treat.

Get Motown Gold from the Ed Sullivan Show at here.
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