*“Hitsville: The Making of Motown” premiered on Showtime on August 24, centering on the story of the legendary record label told through new and exclusive interviews with the label’s visionary founder, Berry Gordy, and many of its superstar artists.
From directors Benjamin and Gabe Turner, the doc features rare performances and behind-the-scenes footage unearthed from Motown’s vaults and Gordy’s personal archives.
“Motown is critical not only to the history of music in America, but also the history of America itself,” states Vinnie Malhotra, Executive Vice President, Nonfiction Programming, Showtime Networks Inc. “And you’ve never seen this bedrock of the music industry explored and remembered the way that Gabe and Ben Turner do it in Hitsville, with never-before-seen clips and interviews with the key players.”
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The film, coinciding with Motown’s 60th anniversary, proves why the Detroit behemoth remains one of the most ubiquitous and essential record labels of all time. Few labels are as inextricable from a sound to the extent that Motown is. This is the first documentary with Gordy’s official blessing and involvement.
Hitsville: The Making of Motown excels at highlighting the good times. Even if the Motown catalog is already very familiar, some of the stories behind the songs are fascinating. One in particular is The Temptations “My Girl,” which Smokey Robinson wrote as his sequel to Mary Wells’ “My Guy.”
As much as the spritely 89-year-old label founder brings charm and magnetism to the film, Gordy’s involvement also hinders it. There’s only a brief mention of the controversies and downtimes in Motown’s history, and whole artists are either left out or awarded a disproportionately low amount of time: Diana Ross, who was not interviewed for the film, merits only a few minutes. It’s bizarre, given her role in the history of the label and her romantic relationship with Gordy.
According to themusicuniverse.com: Motown Records released a deluxe 2 CD 35 track original soundtrack from the documentary on August 16th. The album features music from the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas and the Jackson 5, among others. A 16 track LP edition will be available September 27th.