He doesnt try to romanticise Motown story because there really is no need. Just look at Ruffin: Of course Marvin himself was fine as wine and I would definitely let him have it (if he asked) but something about David Ruffin just made him look like that troubled and tormented artist some girls just cant help but fall for. I made a playlist on spotify while reading this book and I included all the songs and artists mentioned (not all from Motown). Rockwell is the son of Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown and man that made history (I mean Berry Gordy made history, his son only made this one video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YvAYI... Also you just need to see this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01-2pN...
Unfortunately, there is a less happy side to the story, involving grossly underpaid and unrecognized musicians ( I was shocked by how little they were paid to play on some of the classic records of all time!) and artists that were neglected, not developed, or relegated to the bottom of the Motown barrel because other artists seemed to be on a hot streak sales-wise. Consider but a few of the following classic pop records that sound as good today as when they were recorded: "Dancing in the Streets", "What's Going On"; "My Guy"; "Reach Out (I'll Be There"; "You've Really Got a Hold on Me"; "The Tracks of My Tears"; "Baby Love"; "My Girl" "Where Did Our Love Go"; "Do You Love Me?"; "Fingertips"; "I Want You Back", "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"...and many, many more; even many of the non-hits and B-sides on this label were fabulous. Once the label moved to L.A. they lost some of that original Motown music sound, yet continued enjoying success with The Jackson Five, The Commodores, Lionel Richie, etc.
Why aren't there more long, thoughtful books on Motown? America: Motown is probably the best thing we've EVER DONE. You'll see dozens of books on the overwrittenabout phenomenon that changed nothing that is "punk" and very little about Motown, one of the great achievements in 20th century popular culture. The universality of Motown makes its hard to imagine that, back in the day, in was a fledgling indie label, a risky proposition for any businessman in the 1950s, and an almost suicidal one if you were a black businessman. Through good times and bad, Berry Gordy is the complicated, maddening hero of "Where Did Our Love Go." The themes that Nelson George returns to again and again, with an impressive lack of judgment, are the shrewdness of the Gordy family's aspirations; the tragic loyalty of Motown's people to Gordy's vision; the willingness of Motown to cheat its artists; the uniqueness and revolutionary nature (not usually stated explicitly) of the label's accomplishments. This is a book that both situates Motown in its time and place, even as it employs the language ("Rise and Fall") on an epic Shakespeare play.
The story of the label is as much the story of it's founder, Berry Gordy, as it is of the superb music created in the 1960s, and as such the first part of the book tells some of the history of the Gordy family, from their roots in the South to their move to Detroit and the deep, driving work ethic that was instilled into each generation - succeed, make money, be nobody's fool. Coming to realise that the only way to make money was to control every aspect of the business, from styling the artistes to writing, production and record distribution, Gordy's drive saw Motown emerge as the greatest black-owned business of its era.
It's probably a book that should have been a hundred pages longer, allowing George to really delve into the stories of the groups, executives, and musicians who made Motown what it was, but Motown's notoriously close-ranked business model prevented George from getting anything other than the company line.
Nelson George is an author, filmmaker, television producer, and critic with a long career in analyzing and presenting the diverse elements of African-American culture. George is the executive producer of the Chris Rock hosted feature documentary, Good Hair, a look at hair weaves, relaxers and the international black hair economy that's premiering at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Nelson George serves as host of Soul Cities, a travel show that debuted in November 2008. In 2009 Viking will publish his memoir, 'City Kid', a look at the connections between childhood in Brooklyn and his adult career in Manhattan, Los Angeles and Detroit.