I was lucky enough a few years ago to catch a performance by a legendary Motown star while I was on holiday at Butlins, you may not think performing at Butlins is the sign of such legend but with Motown being an almost dead form of music nowadays and the artist being old enough to collect his pension it was great to see him still able to perform well and keep the crowd entertained, the man I'm talking about is Edwin Starr. Unfortunately Starr has since passed away so I count myself lucky to have been able to see the great man for myself but I can at least still listen to him via CD and other media.
Edwin Starr The Essential Collection is just that, a collection of his biggest hits from his early Motown days to his later Disco/Funk efforts. While I appreciate the sounds of Motown it was one Disco track in particular that drew my attention to the CD and that is track 17 "H.A.P.P.Y Radio" it's a upbeat song with a great Disco beat and sing-a-long lyrics that will get you dancing along in much the same was as D.I.S.C.O and other such party hits will, even my 2 little ones love this track and will ask for "the happy song" if I put the CD on, in fact little Elsa is fast becoming a Disco addict demanding songs by Earth Wind & Fire, Kool & The Gang and other similar artists, I get the feeling she's been a little influenced by mummys musical tastes!
The track list for the CD is as follows-
3.: I Have Faith In You Baby
4.: I'm Still A Struggling Man
5.: Ooh Baby Baby
6.: You've Got My Soul On Fire
7.: Twenty Four Hours To Find My Baby
8.: There You Go
9.: Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On
10.: I Want My Baby Back
11.: Ain't It Hell Up In Harlem
12.: My Kinda Woman
14.: Back Street
15.: Who Is The Leader Of The People
16.: Easin' In
17.: Stop The War Now
18.: HAPPY Radio
Aside from "H.A.P.P.Y radio" it's only the first 2 tracks that have the more "modern" Disco/Funk feel to them with the remaining 15 being Motown to the core, think early Diana Ross minus the Supremes and you've got the right musical style, lots of brass instruments, soft drum beats, harmonious feminine backing vocals and swinging melodies. There's none of the over production of modern albums, traditional instruments are the key with little use of modern technologies, to have seen these performers live would have involved a stage full of talented musicians and singers all headed by the charismatic Edwin Starr. It' the kind of music that makes a great background for a warm spring day, uplifting and positive in feeling even if not in lyric.
"War" is perhaps one of Starrs best known tracks having been used on the 90's television show Gladiators, generally when the larger male Gladiators would enter the arena to play Powerball, it's also as relevant today as it ever was asking the question "War, what is it good for?" I'm sure a great many people reading this now have often wondered the same question and given the same answer "absolutely nothing"
I will admit that I need to be in the right mood to listen to the whole album and most often will find myself with a selection of similar albums in my 5 CD changer flicking back and forth through my favourite songs. I understand that by compiling an essential collection that the various different musical styles and the best hits of the artist need to be included but it seems odd putting 2 of Starrs later tracks at the beginning and 1 at the end stuffing all his Motown style efforts in the middle, the album would have flowed far better by putting the later songs at the end allowing the listener to follow the changes and transitions as the tracks charted passing of time.
The album is available both in store and online, it's slightly more specific to entertainment stores and it's unlikely you'll find it in your local supermarket however you can get it from such places as Amazon, Play.com and Ebay from as little as £3.99. If you're a Motown fan I can highly recommend this album as it captures the time perfectly and is performed by a fantastic artist, the more modern tracks are an interesting look into what Starr may have become had he kept in the limelight. It's certainly worth a listen.
Also on Ciao (piggypine)
Disc #1 Tracklisting
3 I Have Faith In You
4 I'm Still A Struggling Man
5 Ooh Baby Baby - Edwin Starr, Blinky
6 You've Got My Soul On Fire
7 24 Hours (To Find My Baby)
8 There You Go
9 Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On
10 I Want My Baby Back
11 Ain't It Hell Up In Harlem
13 Back Street
14 Who Is The Leader Of The People
15 Easin In
16 Stop The War Now
17 H.A.P.P.Y. Radio