DAR Music: 25 Of The Greatest Motown Albums

By @TrueGodImmortal

The legacy of many record labels live on in music through their catalog and the legendary artists that came through the pipeline. One label that is probably regarded as the absolute greatest would be the Detroit based Motown Records, which had so many subsidiaries and other labels attached to it that it felt like a factory of sorts. Because of this, the label had some of the best music coming out during their heyday and a number of classic albums. Today, we look back on the classic albums of Motown and give you a list of their 25 greatest albums over the years. Let's get into it.

*Four Tops- Four Tops Second Album (1965)

-This is the best Four Tops album and it's not even close IMO. They are at their best here and with songs such as the "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" and the monumental "Its The Same Old Song", their second album remains my personal favorite of theirs and a true Motown classic.

*Junior Walker And The All Stars- Shotgun (1965)

-A much more underrated album than its given credit for, this project has been utilized in films through the year via various songs, but as an entire listen, it's beyond amazing and a great album. The upbeat vibes continue through the tracks like "Do The Boomerang", the title track, and "Monkey Jump", among others.

*Rick James- Street Songs (1981)

-The most infamous Rick album is a true Motown classic from the 80s. This is Rick in all his glory, singing to the ladies on two of his biggest singles, the iconic "Super Freak" and my personal favorite "Give It To Me Baby". Other great tracks include another iconic duet with Teena Marie "Fire and Desire", as well as the often sampled "Ghetto Life". Rick was on fire in a major way with this album.

*Marvin Gaye- What's Going On (1971)

-When talking some of the greatest albums of all time, there's no way you can ignore the legendary Marvin Gaye album "What's Going On". Released during a trying time in the world, Marvin spoke about better health, better economic conditions, trying to preserve the neighborhood and the environment in general. Songs like "Save the Children" and "Wholy Holy" are amazing along with the two biggest songs from the album, the title track and "Mercy Mercy Me".

*The Temptations- Sky's The Limit (1971)

-Of all the Temptations albums to choose from, this might be the absolute best one. It features my personal favorite Temptations song "Just My Imagination" and with Eddie Kendricks becoming more of a force on this album, it takes it a bit higher than other releases. They knocked it out the park with this one.

*Stevie Wonder- Hotter Than July (1980)

-I consider this a top 3 Stevie album and easily one of the best to be released by the label. Stevie took a slightly different approach than previously, as he managed to weave together ballads like "Lately" alongside upbeat tracks like "All I Do", and melancholy numbers like the superb "Rocket Love", and the Martin Luther King Day tribute "Happy Birthday". All in all, this album is a near classic and deserving of a spot on this list.

*The Commodores- Commodores (1977)

-The self titled fifth album from this group has some of their biggest hits and some of the most iconic songs in their catalog. From the dedication to women with a little more thickness "Brick House" to the sweet Sunday morning sounds of "Easy", this was one of those albums that hit you when it dropped and never loses its luster.

*Gladys Knight And The Pips- Everybody Needs Love (1967)

-Gladys is one of the greatest singers ever. She comes through on this album with some of her best vocal work ever, and surprisingly enough, this is the debut album. She shines on the title track, "My Bed Of Thorns", and the whole album honestly. This is the beginning of a true star and legend.

*Stevie Wonder- Innervisions (1973)

-I could make a list of all the Stevie albums and place them here, but this one is a must. The way he put this one together makes it one of my favorite Stevie albums and songs like "Golden Lady", "Living For The City", and many more only further the greatness of Stevie. This album is truly a favorite for me and I can listen to it even now without skipping anything.

*Marvin Gaye- Let's Get It On (1973)

-Another true classic in the musical genre that was one of the best albums to come along of our time. Marvin is absolutely flawless on this album from the sultry title track to the instant classic "Distant Lover", all the way down to the heart wrenching "Just To Keep You Satisfied", this Tamla (Motown subsidiary) release is beyond a classic.

*Lionel Richie- Can't Slow Down (1983)

-Aside from a pretty hilarious cover, this album had all the Lionel hits that we can't forget. The album is the highest selling album of his career and one of the biggest sellers on Motown. With hits like "All Night Long" and the essential Lionel Richie song "Hello", this project had everything you would want and more. It's a truly classic album that gets slightly overlooked when talking some of the biggest albums of the 80s.

*Johnny Gill- Johnny Gill (1990)

-The third solo album from the New Edition singer was his best and his most successful. Armed with a New Jack Swing sound, Johnny wooed the ladies with the iconic "My, My, My" and kept them all dancing with the hit "Rub You The Right Way". Johnny was in top form on this album.

*Diana Ross- Diana Ross (1970)

-The debut solo album from the Supremes lead singer has two things going for it: a beyond hilarious yet weird cover and some of the best music in Diana's career. Still armed with the soul that carried over from the Supremes days, Diana would end up giving us hits like "Reach Out And Touch (Somebody's Hand)" along with covers of already known songs that blended in perfectly with the rest of this album. Diana arrived as a solo artist here and proved she could hold her own.

*Smokey Robinson- A Quiet Storm (1975)

-The Motown legend that is Smokey Robinson came with some of the best music of his career on this particular album. This is one of my favorite albums in his catalog, and it's full of soulful sounds that make you want to sing along. The title track is a great listen, as is the all time classic "The Agony And The Ecstasy" and "Baby That's Backatcha". All around a great album and definitely deserving of a spot on this list.

*Stevie Wonder- Songs In The Key of Life (1976)

-Another one of Stevie's most infamous albums is here, as he creates some of his most iconic songs like "As", "Sir Duke", and a number of beautiful tracks that combine for one of the greatest albums we've ever heard. It's not only one of the best Motown albums, it's also one of the best albums ever. Period.

*The Jackson 5- ABC (1970)

-Another gem from the Jackson family is their 2nd album, which features some of their biggest hits like the title track, my personal favorite "The Love You Save", and "Never Had A Dream Come True". The Jacksons really delivered with this one and of course, Michael shined brightly.

*Smokey Robinson and The Miracles- Going To A Go Go (1965)

-This was when we knew Smokey was going to be a star. He had stepped out and became the lead singer and of course songwriter, but this album was beyond what we expected. With tracks like "Ooo Baby Baby", "The Tracks Of My Tears", and "My Girl Has Gone", they would rack up more hits and bigger success. This is a landmark album for Motown IMO.

*Marvin Gaye- I Want You (1979)

-Another classic Marvin album that tends to fly under the radar compared to his two others on this list. The title track is definitely the best song here, but other classics like "Since I Had You", "After The Dance", and "Soon I'll Be Loving You Again" help round out a lovely album.

*The Supremes- More Hits By the Supremes (1965)

-The Supremes came with something beyond special here and this album is magnetic for the time period. This is where we hear the classic "Stop! In the Name of Love", along with more great songs like "Honey Boy", "Mother Dear", and "Back In My Arms Again". A very great project.

*The Jackson 5- Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5 (1969)

-There are moments in music you don't forget. Who could forget the arrival of the Jackson 5? The two most memorable moments on this album? Michael singing "Who's Lovin You" and the big hit "I Want You Back". A surefire classic here and the arrival of one of the greatest musical families ever.

*Boyz II Men- II (1994)

-Motown would see their presence dwindle some in the 90s, but their biggest victory of the decade came from the legendary Boyz II Men who would shine brightly with one of the biggest selling R&B albums of all time. Their 2nd album features "I'll Make Love To You", "Water Runs Dry", "Thank You", and a favorite of mine "On Bended Knee". The group shines here and creates hit after hit. Easily the best Motown album in the 90s.

*David Ruffin- Who I Am (1975)

-When we talk David Ruffin, this is the album I always go to. The biggest hit "Walk Away From Love" is here, as are more classics such as "The Finger Pointers", "Wild Honey", and my personal favorite "Statue of A Fool". This was another classic album in the Motown pipeline.

*Queen Latifah- Black Reign (1993)

-A surprise to see this here? Don't be shocked. This album is a female hip hop classic, and Queen was bringing it the best she had brought it her whole career. The biggest track being "U.N.I.T.Y." here, she has more heat like "Just Another Day" and the epic posse cut "Rough". This is my personal favorite Queen album and certainly one of the best releases for Motown.

*Edwin Starr- War & Peace (1970)

-This album is more so underrated than anything, but was super vital at the time for the label. Edwin Starr wasn't the biggest artist on Motown, but he certainly came with some greatness on this one, such as "War", "California Soul", and a personal favorite of mine "Time". A true gem in the Motown catalog.

*Erykah Badu- Mama's Gun (2000)

-Badu would become a vital part in the Neo-Soul movement and needless to say, this might have been the best album of her career and one of the greatest Neo-Soul albums ever. Luckily for Motown, she would be on their label and release this masterpiece featuring the instant classics "Bag Lady" and my personal favorite Badu track "Didn't Cha Know". Another classic under her belt.



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