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Where Did Our Love Go? the Rise and Fall of The Motown Sound

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  184 ratings  ·  16 reviews
The behind-the-scenes story of Berry Gordy, builder of the greatest "hits factory" of the '60s. By shrewdly matching singers with his in-house songwriters and producers, Gordy launched the careers of acts such as The Supremes and Stevie Wonder. 32 pages of black-and-white photographs. ...more
Paperback, 250 pages
Published September 1st 1987 by St. Martin's Press (first published February 1986)
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Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pub-1986
Nelson George has a nice style of writing about music. It is very unobtrusive. There are so many non-fiction writers these days that are trying to write non-fiction like a novel. They guess what the people were thinking and make some absurd far fetched assumptions. They describe dialogues and scenes that surely must have only happened in their own imagination and do whole arrays of another annoying things undermining their own credibility. Nelson George doesn’t do any of that. He only goes as fa ...more
Oct 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I am a true blue Motown Records freak and have been since I was a kid and mowed lawns (hated it!) for money to buy my 45 RPM singles I decided to read this much praised book about the legendary record label. I pretty much gobbled it up like candy. It was an entertaining and easy book to read and really gives the reader a sense of how Motown Records was born and became so successful. It is quite detailed in describing the business dynamics involved as well as the musical journey. Mr. Gordy, ...more
Very readable, accessible even to someone like me who didn't previously know much about Motown or some of the artists. But readers who are more familiar with the music would get more out of it. ...more
Jack Wolfe
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As far as I know, this is the most respected and critically lauded book on Motown. It's great (Motown is great). It's also about a fourth as long as it could be. If you need a compact summary of the label during its rise, peak, and the start of its decline, you got it here, complete with swift, effective profiles of most of the major singers, songwriters, musicians, and behind-the-scenes people. If you want an in-depth look at the music... Well, you'll get a lot of that here, too, but not enough ...more
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, music
Nelson George, one of America's most respected music writers, here presents a detailed yet concise history of Motown, or rather Classic Period Motown (1959-1971). The story of the label is as much the story of it's founder, Berry Gordy, as it is of the superb music created in the 1960s, and as such the first part of the book tells some of the history of the Gordy family, from their roots in the South to their move to Detroit and the deep, driving work ethic that was instilled into each generatio ...more
Peter Burton
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was keen to re- live the music of my youth in the UK when it was ultra cool to listen to Black music and Tamla Motown figure strongly in that.This was quite entertaining and informative with perhaps a little too much technical detail for my non musical brain.But the stories of the rise of Motown made it a book worth reading.Sad also to read about Flo Ballard,David Ruffin etc .Surprised also to see how certain singers were not really promoted such as Brenda Holloway who sang the great song "Eve ...more
Ron Coulter
In the 1960s, Motown released a string of pop masterpieces. By the mid-1970s the label was virtually irrelevant. What happened? Where Did Our Love Go? largely answers this question. Nelson George explores the personalities and inevitable conflicts that arise when money and power are at stake. At the center is the label's founder Berry Gordy. As the preface notes the book has no heroes, no villains - "just ambitious people." ...more
Jeff Tucker
This is a very straightforward story of the rise and fall of Motown. All the information is there but there isn’t much soul or drama to the book. I enjoyed learning about Berry Gordy and all the Motown artists and musicians but I would have enjoyed a book with a little more flair. It’s readable but not great.
James G.
Aug 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very readable. Best though when reaching for higher points, but those are rare. Perhaps if there were more, it'd've pushed the length much further, as the author'd go in more depth, too, on the characters. Right now, the length is just-right. ...more
Steve Hart
Jan 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
hits all the major points despite its 200 page brevity. the last chapter ain't nuthin' gut a heartache though. what a f'n tragedy for most of these people. ...more
May 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was fine but I was hoping it would be a bit more in-depth. Enjoyed the early stuff best. Didn't realize Berry Gordy was such an accomplished songwriter pre-Motown. ...more
Jim Milway
May 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I grew up on Motown and I spent much of my business career in strategy. This book has them both. We get insights into the big stars - Smokey, Marvin, Stevie, Diana, Flo & Mary, et al. But we also follow the business success and decline of Motown. Barry Gordy had insights in how to spot black music talent and equally important how to support and package this talent for mass appeal. He figured out the economics of distribution and the importance of consistency in his brand. He knew the benefits of ...more
May 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
This is a well-researched and swiftly paced history of Motown, the label whose music is one of America's great cultural contributions along with jazz and baseball, but also a somewhat perfunctory and lifeless one.

It's probably a book that should have been a hundred pages longer, allowing George to really delve into the stories of the groups, executives, and musicians who made Motown what it was, but Motown's notoriously close-ranked business model prevented George from getting anything other th
John Gannon
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, motown, non-fiction
The best Motown book.
I like that he finishes the story with Motown moving to L.A., where it became just another record company.
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Long chapters that were so disorganized, it was hard to follow where the author was headed to or who he was talking about. It was a lot of dense information packed tightly in very long chapters.
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Nelson George is an author, filmmaker, television producer, and critic with a long career in analyzing and presenting the diverse elements of African-American culture.

Queen Latifah won the Golden Globe for playing the lead in his directorial debut, the HBO movie 'Life Support'. The critically acclaimed drama looked at the effects of HIV on a troubled black family in his native Brooklyn, New York.

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