Thursday, October 9, 2014

Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever

StarVista Releases ‘Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever’ DVD Collection

StarVista and Time Life has released Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, a DVD collection of exclusive interviews, rehearsal footage and several featurettes accompanying the footage of the original concert that aired in 1983.

The six-disk set, available on Time Life’s site, is the biggest release from Motown in recent years. Suzzane De Passe, an award winning entertainment executive, notes that the clearance for all of the footage was the major hurdle.  There have been previous DVD specials, but not everyone came together like it has in this set. The collaboration with Time Life and StarVista was what moved everything along according to De Passe. Those companies were the ones that did the clearance work. She also notes the changing laws in intellectual property as a major factor. As she says, the “stars aligned” to make this happen.

This concert is commonly hailed as a monumental event in music history.  From a musician’s perspective Abdul “Duke” Fakir from The Four Tops saw the performances as a way to get together with people he saw as family.  Beyond the jokes and competition, he says while being there everyone, “really felt that this was going to be extremely special.” De Passe remembers the stress of trying to make everything work and run smoothly, always looking forward to the sigh of relief when everything went well. The executive side did not fully comprehend all that was accomplished during that time, but coming back for Motown 25 put things in perspective.

Both De Passe and Fakir see the performances as a moment in music history that is hard to replicate in the highly competitive entertainment industry of today. De Passe pointed out the way Motown was run as a huge reason all of this was able to happen. “What Motown did do is create or reinvigorate interest in not only the on stage people, but the behind the scenes people as well.” The company was more about the celebration of music and musicians who believed in celebrating it. Fakir says that a lot of the success not only had to do with the on stage musicians, but great song writing. All of these elements that made up Motown and the time period came together to bring footage of unexpected moments from Diana Ross spontaneously walking onstage during Adam Ants performance to when Michael Jackson debuted The Moonwalk.

Michael Jackson’s performance of Billie Jean is hailed as one of the most iconic moments of the night. Despite beliefs that he had moved on from performances such as this and struggles with filming, that moment was able to happen and be recorded into history.

Recently Motown musicality has sustained its presence through the tours of The Tops and Temps. Fakir mentions that at first the tour was not selling too well, but after a few shows there was a surprise boom. De Passe says that one of the reasons for the amazing performances is the showmanship and competition between musicians trying to one-up each other. Whatever it may be Fakir is simply thankful, “It has extended both of our careers well into overtime which I appreciate.”

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