|Artist: Michael Mcdonald|
|Thousands of hopeful young singers have paid their dues in smoky bars playing songs from Motown's heady heyday. Back in St.Louis in
the very late 1960s, one of them had them in his armoury as he set about getting noticed on his way to a multi-platinum career as
one of the great singer-songwriters of his day. Now, Michael McDonald has returned to his first love.
Produced by English helmsman and former pop frontman Simon Climie, this elegantly-mounted collection of Motown interpretations calls on the songs of such legends as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations and Diana Ross & the Supremes and is nothing less than McDonald's emotional nod towards the record collection that started him down the road of his stellar career.
The album is also a dream release for fans who have long known him to be one of the most seductive voices of his generation. When he marries rock and soul, they stay married, as he did as singer and writer or co-writer of countless hits from his years with the Doobie Brothers, such as "It Keeps You Runnin'," "You Belong To Me," "Minute By Minute," "Real Love" and the timeless, triple-Grammy winning "What A Fool Believes." Then again during his seamless transition to a solo career, on such songs as "I Keep Forgetting," "Sweet Freedom" and vintage duets such as "Yah Mo B There" with James Ingram and "On My Own" with Patti LaBelle.
"Not unlike a lot of people, I grew up in the Motown time frame," he explains. "Motown music was something I really gravitated to as a kid, as did most kids in America. Marvin Gaye's Super Hits album  and the Diana & Marvin album  were just records I played thousands of times. This was at a time when I had some time on my hands, as a musician living out in California, I think I was listening to more (Motown) then than when I was back home. The Stevie Wonder albums, Music Of My Mind, Talking Book and Songs In The Key Of Life, they were all albums that when I was on my own were always on the turntable."
Album Notes and Credits
Notes & Personnel Info
|Personnel: Michael McDonald (vocals, piano, Fender Rhodes piano);|
|Toby Baker (acoustic & electric guitars, keyboards, bass, programming);|
|Simon Climie (acoustic & electric guitars, background vocals); Chris Rodriguez (electric guitar, sitar); Tommy Sims (electric guitar, background vocals); Michael Thompson, Larry Carlton (guitar); Mark Douthit (saxophone); Tony Swain (Fender Rhodes piano, keyboards, synthesizer); Tim Akers, Tim Carmen (Hammond B-3 organ); Bob James (keyboards); Nathan East (bass); Nicky "Mischief" Shaw (drums, percussion, programming); Harvey Mason (drums, percussion); Ricky Lawson (drums); Paul Waller (programming); Tracy Ackermann, Alfreda McCrary, Leon Ware (background vocals).|
|MOTOWN was nominated for the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" was nominated for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.|
|As a guy who made his reputation for being neck-deep in the sounds of blue-eyed soul, it seems Michael McDonald was destined to put out MOTOWN (released on the label of the same name), an album's worth of classics from this esteemed company's canon. McDonald went out and hired Fourplay, a quartet of top-notch jazz musicians, to back him up on his Motown debut. The combination of this St. Louis native's gruff vocals and the silky accompaniment of Larry Carlton, Bob James, Harvey Mason, and Nathan East gives adds a fresh touch to songs originally recorded by the likes of The Temptations, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Wonder and Gaye songs make up the lion's share of the material, reflecting McDonald's longtime admiration of these two R&B giants. He doesn't disappoint, whether cutting loose on "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" or lovingly caressing "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)." With the stellar degree of care and respect accorded to these songs by McDonald, this 2003 outing ends up being a fine tribute to the Motown Records legacy.|
Producer: Simon Climie
Associated Artists and Works
|Release Date : 06/24/2003|
|Original Release Date : 2003|
|Catalog ID : 0000651|
|Label : Motown|
|Number of Discs : 1|
|Studio/Live : Studio|
|Mono/Stereo : Stereo|
|SPAR Code : n/a|
|UPC : 00602498011331|
McDonald's lifelong relationship with Motown goes back beyond his days in California. Born in St.Louis in 1952, he was the teenage keyboard player, guitarist and singer in local combos such as Mike and the Majestics, the Del Rays and an outfit called Blue. "When I was really young and singing Motown stuff in clubs, we were also doing a lot of James Brown and Mitch Rider & Detroit Wheels, screaming our lungs out. Vocally, that would have lasted about ten years and been over."
"Working in clubs, I had to develop a style of singing that would allow me to sing all night long without being hoarse the next day. My style came as much from that as anything. But emulating soul singers over the years, I just always enjoyed the way those artists sang, they all had their own little trademark. You wind up copping those things when you learn top 40 songs to play in clubs. But over the years, those things get a little dog-eared and they fall into something that eventually becomes your own."
So to California, his first record deal with RCA in 1972, and then into a long arrangement with Steely Dan, adding his distinguishable timber to career songs for the band like "Peg" and "Time Out of Mind." Then, by 1976, it was into the lion's den of the Doobie Brothers, whose future he transformed with a series of superb compositions. But as Michael readily admits, for all their rock credentials, they were never far from a soul mood. The Doobie's hit with Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me) just as McDonald was joining their inner circle in 1975, and again in 1977 with Little Darling (I Need You). It's an inspiration he carried into his solo career, notably with his cover of the Freddie Scott gem Hey Girl on 1993's Blink Of An Eye.
"In a way," he says, "it's always been a challenge to pick a song that was a classic record and try to bring something to it that doesn't hurt or expose you too much, but is maybe a new and different perspective on the song."