Dance with the Contours

Dance with the Contours

by The ContoursThe Contours


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Of the Motown acts to have big hits in the 1960s, the Contours are one of the least known; it could be more people can rattle off the lyrics to "Do You Love Me?" than identify the group that sang the song. But like all Motown groups of consequence, they recorded a surprisingly voluminous amount of material for the label, much of which was unreleased at the time. It's still astonishing that there are enough unissued cuts from 1963 and 1964 alone to comprise the bulk of this 26-track CD. It does include a couple of official 1964 singles ("Can You Do It" and "Can You Jerk Like Me"), but the other two-dozen masters were previously unreleased before this 2011 compilation appeared. It's also impressive that these recordings aren't obvious throwaways. At the same time, however, there's not much in the way of obvious first-rate contenders for 45 release, and much of it sounds like decent album filler. (In fact, about half of it could have been planned for a late 1964/early 1965 LP that might have been titled Dance with the Contours, hence the title of this CD anthology.) More often than not, they're uptempo tunes that take advantage of the group's knack for danceable grooves paced by some of the grittiest lead vocals ever heard on Motown sides of the early to mid-'60s. Sometimes they specifically echo the "Do You Love Me?" formula, and might have been passed over for release by quality control for precisely that reason. The group do sometimes, however, prove adept at handling smoother and poppier Motown numbers with some resemblance to the approach used by fellow acts on the label's roster like the Temptations, the Miracles, and Mary Wells, especially on Smokey Robinson's "I Didn't Know How Right It Was (But Ooh What a Night It Was)," which the liner notes rightly cite as "the most obvious candidate for single release among the unissued sides in this collection." (Another number, "Do the See Saw," actually became a 1965 hit for Tom & Jerrio under the title "Boo-Ga-Loo," when different vocals were added to the backing track.) The production is very accomplished -- few if any cuts sound like demos -- and a lot of big names are involved on the songwriting side, including Wells (who co-wrote a few of the songs with the Contours' Sylvester Potts), Robinson, Norman Whitfield, Berry Gordy, and Andre Williams. All but Wells also took turns at producing these tracks too, but they usually sound like secondary efforts from these major talents, though the Wells-Potts co-write "Boy Meets Girl" will appeal to anyone who liked the early Latin-flavored Wells' hits. But if this isn't up to the standards of a Contours best-of, it's still interesting, and in many respects enjoyable, for Motown aficionados, with extremely thorough liner notes about both the Contours' history and these specific vault discoveries.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/05/2011
Label: Ace Records Uk
UPC: 0029667235020
catalogNumber: 6723502
Rank: 76356

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Contours   Primary Artist
Andantes   Accompaniment
Robert Gordy   Vocals
Billy Gordon   Vocals
Sylvester Potts   Vocals
Billy Hoggs   Vocals

Technical Credits

Smokey Robinson   Producer
Mary Wells   Composer
Andre Williams   Composer,Producer
Harvey Fuqua   Composer,Producer
Berry Gordy   Composer,Producer
Ivy Jo Hunter   Composer,Producer
Richard Parker   Composer
William "Mickey" Stevenson   Composer,Producer
Richard Street   Composer,Producer
Norman Whitfield   Composer,Producer
William Robinson   Composer
Tony Rounce   Memorabilia
Robert Gordy   Composer,Producer
Billy Gordon   Composer
Sylvester Potts   Composer,Producer
Rob Finnis   Memorabilia
Ronald White   Composer,Producer
Robert Hamilton   Composer,Producer
Vicky Basemore   Composer
John Bristol   Composer
John Lester   Memorabilia
Andrew Skurow   Tape Vault Research
Keith Hughes   Liner Notes,Track Annotations,Memorabilia
Lars Nilsson   Memorabilia
Charles Barksdale   Composer
Jo Almeida   Photo Courtesy
Roger Blythe   Memorabilia
George Fowler   Composer,Producer
Thelma Coleman Gordy   Composer

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