|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.
|Personnel: Michael McDonald (vocals, piano, Fender Rhodes piano, background vocals); Toby Baker (vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboards, bass guitar, programming, drum programming); Michael Hart Thompson , Larry Carlton (guitar); Simon Climie (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, programming, background vocals); Chris Rodriguez (electric guitar, sitar, electric sitar); Chris Rodriquez (electric guitar, sitar); Mark Douthit (saxophone); Amy Holland (piano, background vocals); Tony Swain (Fender Rhodes piano, keyboards, synthesizer); Nicky "Misschief" Shaw (drums, percussion, programming, drum programming); Harvey Mason, Sr. (drums, percussion); Ricky Lawson (drums); Paul Waller (percussion, programming); Duawne Starling, Alfreda McCrary Lee, Tammy Taylor, Gale Mayes-West, Amy McDonald, Kevin Whalum, Leon Ware, Ann McCrary, Audrey Martells, Tommy Sims, Tracie Ackerman, Jennifer Karr (background vocals).
|Audio Mixer: Mick Guzauski.
|Recording information: Los Angeles, CA; Nashville, TN; New York, NY; Nice, France.
|Arrangers: Nicky "Misschief" Shaw; Fourplay; Michael McDonald ; Simon Climie; Toby Baker.
|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.
|Michael McDonaldMcDonald'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."