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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Meticulously Researched, but more bitter than necessary
Motown Records is either a) a hallowed sanctuary of soul music best left to be adored from afar, or b) an empire built on dirty dealing and abuse (both emotional and monetary) best exposed as an example of exploitation. Or maybe it is both. Gerald Posner has a hard time making that decision, despite a well researched and historically well documented survey of Berry Gordy...
Published on December 24, 2002 by Karl Miller

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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written but...
This book is the most intelligent and best-written opus on Motown currently available but why couldn't the distinguished and experienced Gerald Posner get his FACTS right? I can't believe prominent authors working with prominent publishers and I assume capable editors are stumbling all over the place these days. "Georgeanna Dobbins Tillman" as she's referred to is TWO...
Published on January 7, 2003


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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Meticulously Researched, but more bitter than necessary, December 24, 2002
By 
Karl Miller "kemspeaks" (Phoenixville, PA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Motown Records is either a) a hallowed sanctuary of soul music best left to be adored from afar, or b) an empire built on dirty dealing and abuse (both emotional and monetary) best exposed as an example of exploitation. Or maybe it is both. Gerald Posner has a hard time making that decision, despite a well researched and historically well documented survey of Berry Gordy (and family's) legendary contribution to the music business.
Posner has crafted a study of Motown that presents its founders, and stars as less-than-perfect (though most often well-likable) pioneers in business and entertainment, working together, though often butting heads with each other, in defining a company built on a legendary sound. Everyone is familiar with most of the players - The Gordy Family (this book delves into the family more so than most other Motown studies, and makes clear that Berry was the head, though not the sole talent of the family), Marvin Gaye (who is painted as a head case through much of the book), Diana Ross (Posner adds some new "legends" to this diva's conduct file, none of them pretty or flattering), Stevie Wonder (both respected and severely exploited, given his youth), Smokey robinson (probably the smartest businessman in the Motown stable), and others. Posner shoots down the legendary "mob-connection" tale, but fills his book with court records, verified statements from insiders, and previously published facts to present a company where competition between artists fueled the hit pipeline, but with severe cost to artists (Florence Ballard's story is still painful to read) and creativity.
This book is a great, enjoyable read in many parts, but it fails to capture any of the joy of Motown. You are left feeling sorry for many of the artists you have come to love over the years. For this reason, I'm glad I saw "Standing In The Shadows Of Motown" before reading "Motown: Money, Power...", for that movie is a celebration of the most important element of the Motown legacy - some of the best music ever recorded.
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written but..., January 7, 2003
By A Customer
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This book is the most intelligent and best-written opus on Motown currently available but why couldn't the distinguished and experienced Gerald Posner get his FACTS right? I can't believe prominent authors working with prominent publishers and I assume capable editors are stumbling all over the place these days. "Georgeanna Dobbins Tillman" as she's referred to is TWO people, Mr. Posner. Georgeanna Dobbins was one of the five original Marvelettes and cowrote "Please, Mr. Postman." She was replaced by Wanda Young before the group began recording for Motown. Georgeanna Tillman was a different person, also one of the original five.
Also: Gladys Horton was not replaced as lead singer in the Marvelettes by Anne Bogan. Well before Horton left Wanda Young has assumed the lead on records, though in person both ladies alternately led. Bogan came into the group as a background singer, only recording leads on two album tracks, one of which was pulled for a single. The final Marvelettes album was a Young solo project; Young never refused to move to L.A. nor did the Marvelettes ever make a decision to break up. They just found themselves in Detroit with no record company. Much worse: Martha Reeves not even being told the company had moved.Also: Lynda Laurence and Scherrie Payne were not in the Supremes the same time; Laurence sang with the Jean Terrell-led group, Payne replaced Terrell.Also: Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong did not decide to do the "Return to Love" tour. Diana Ross got the original offer, then called Mary Wilson, who wasn't in the mood to get low pay, no profits from merchandise sales and work as an employee of Miss Ross, with all the attendant disrespect implied (when Ross complained that all Wilson would have had to do is "show up" that really inflamed Wilson. "Why, after devoting my life to keeping this group and its legacy alive would I just want to 'show up,'" she asked). Wilson did at the very last minute agree to join the tour but was told it was too late. Birdsong was not involved at all, though she didn't give up hope for such a tour. Wilson also was much insulted by the souvenir booklet for the tour, which almost no one saw, which mentions her exactly once following Birdsong's name as continuing as a Supreme after Ross left the group, just one more example of Ross's habit of rewriting history (she does not in any way acknowledge that the group started as three girls who became equally beloved by the public, not a lead singer with two backup voices in the shadows).And there's much else wrong and much missing...particularly the saga of the post-Ross Supremes, who labored working for a record company which was making darned sure the group didn't in any way overshadow Ross or equal its success with her as a member. Many acts central to the story, such as the Lewis Sisters, are missing; the saga of the one-man graphic arts department which had to create album packages of what were almost always just randomly-gathered tracks; and much else is gone. The definitive work on Motown and Ross are the books written by Randy Taraborrelli--he gets it all, gets it right and exudes a tangible love for and fascination with the company, the music and people. This new book is beautifully written and elegantly presented but it's SO frustrating to run into the errors which renders this a classy book but classy in a dumbed-down world.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I have read this before!!!!!!, April 14, 2005
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I say that as a title because while reading the book I felt like I was re-reading other books that I have read before on Motown. It was almost quoted word for word in many stories which made it difficult to keep my interest. I enjoyed parts of it because I am always interested in new information that I didn't know which is what I though the book would reveal. I love finding out information on business practices and how a company became successful. The section on the royalties, sales and payments was by far the most interesting to me. Overall Gerald Posner didn't do a bad job, I just think that the story has been told so many times by so many people that it is really hard to come up with anything new or original without referencing previously published material. From a die hard Motown fan and I would dare to call myself a self proclaimed Motown historian the book also had questionable facts. However, someone else who doesn't know the history of the company as much as I do may find it good reading. Before you take it at face value I suggest you do some cross referencing and basically do your homework regarding the facts in this book.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars IT'S THE SAME OLD SONG, January 6, 2003
By A Customer
Looking over Mr. Posner's previous work, I expected much more. What I got instead is a book that,quite frankly, I could have written myself. It seems that Mr. Posner and I have read the same Motown books over the years. Hardly any of the info in this one is new. To be fair, Mr. Posner does reveal some info from court documents that is interesting, but these revelations are very brief and don't make up for the rest of the book..
The repeated information wouldn't be so bad if there weren't also so many inaccuracies in the rest of the book. The Supremes reunion at MOTOWN 25 was unplanned? Unrehearsed maybe, but certainly not unplanned. Marvin Gaye's song SEXUAL HEALING was his first number one hit since WHAT'S GOING ON? Not true. Florence Ballard did marry Thomas Chapman,. Yet, in this book, he is only referred to as her boyfriend, even after they had three children together.
If you know nothing about Motown, this book is a quick way to get acquainted. If you are a Motown completist, you'll probably add this book to your collection anyway. But be forwarned: ain't nothin' new!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written and informative, June 23, 2007
By 
korlo (Clinton Twp, MI) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Motown: Music, Money, Sex, and Power (Paperback)
I see from a number of reviewers for this book that one of the complaints is that this book is a rehash of the same information available elsewhere - ie. legal documents, books from other authors, etc.
Well, many of the books cited as reference are no longer available. Legal documents might be available for public viewing - if you have the time and resources to do your own investigation. I think the author did an excellent job of compiling the information and presenting it in an enjoyable to read format.
I read this book and "The Motown Music Machine" at the same time. Though the other book might be considered more authoritative based on the authors personal experience within Motown, I don't believe that it tells the full story. Afterall, how can one man know all about the business and employees? He can't, which makes Mr Posner's book that much more interesting. It's told from an overall perspective with input from many sources.
Many readers have seen the information in this book in other books or articles. Well I haven't and I enjoyed reading about it in one handy, convenient place.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Clip Job, October 28, 2005
By 
Mostly compiled from the work of other writers, this Motown history is notable for Posner's use of old legal files to detail the many lawsuits against Berry Gordy and the Motown label by stars who later became disgruntled. A better writer when he takes on assassinations (JFK and MLK), Posner is out of his depth when writing about music. He lacks a certain appreciation for how these songs changed American pop culture. Still, the book is useful if you haven't read any others, and could be revelatory for the younger generation unfamiliar with the various Motown stars and their early days.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The story behind the curtain of Motown's great music, September 26, 2011
This is my first Motown read which I personally enjoyed. The story starts with Berry Gordy's early days as a co-songwriter of Jackie Wilson's most popular hits; To Be Loved," and his hit classic "Lonely Teardrops," etc. Once Gordy had a falling out with co-songwriter Billy Davis and royalty issues existed with the label for both, the duo went their separate ways. Berry Gordy used what royalties he made to establish his Hitsville USA Studios in Detroit - which became the Motown recording label and a Legend (Motown) was born. The story implies how Berry did the same thing with royalties that was done to him which is basically short change the young artists and songwriters he signed with shrewd contracts and capitalizing on their being naïve in the music industry. On the flip side Berry could make these artists and songwriters pull magic out of themselves that both artists and songwriters had in their souls to create that special Motown sound. He made them all take it to another level to put only the best Motown songs out to the market.

Posner writes about the earliest days of the Motown Hitsville USA bus tours down south and the terrible things all the new artists had to overcome because of segregation and prejudice. Then finally how the Motown sound was accepted as crossover music for artists like The Marvelettes, Supremes, Temptations, Miracles etc. which was Berry Gordy's goal from day one. In this book you'll read about the struggles and tragedies of stars like Marvin Gaye, Florence Ballard and Paul Williams who all passed away too early... Posner also writes about how this new Motown Sound was hitting the airwaves which changed our music culture in the 60s. Even the Beatles loved the Motown sound! The young artists knew that if you made it you became part of the Motown name and family forever. Although I felt Posner focused a lot on the legalese side there was enough of the Motown story to keep me interested. One last comment as a writer of that era. I agree with one thing from Publishers weekly review. "Although Posner's writing does cover many of the songs for the nostalgic he doesn't convey the richness of the music itself." Other than that this is a good read and I have already recommended this book to a few of my peers that love Motown...
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Total Waste Of Your Money, February 21, 2003
By 
Motown Fan (Virginia, USA) - See all my reviews
Posner's book is nothing more than rehashed stories and urban myths. When it comes to the music, he more often than not, gets it all wrong. This book is full of mistakes regarding when songs were released, who recorded them first, on and on and on...As bad as Tony Turner's book was, I'd recommend it any day over this trash. Hardly any of the label's singers appear to be happy about ever having recorded there. Diana Ross once again gets kicked around and blamed for everyone's lack of sustained sales and stardom. Big surprise there. And his recent appearance on the E! True Hollywood Story about Diana Ross - what happened, they couldn't get Mary Wilson to talk about how evil Ross is, so they carted out Mr. Posner who's never even met her? For a more balanced story about Motown, real Nelson George's "Where Did Our Love Go", if you can.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Did you check your facts?, January 3, 2008
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This review is from: Motown: Music, Money, Sex, and Power (Paperback)
I have read and own more books than I can possibly count about Motown and its artisit. This book was a "BIG DISAPPOINTMENT". On page 307, it was stated that David Ruffin died in Detroit. He died in Phiadelphia and I remember the incident so well because I was visiting my mom, who lived in Philadelphia when the news flash came on TV finally identifying him. He had been a "John Doe" until they finally found out who he really was. I'm so sorry I bought this book. It wouldn't recommend it to anyone. The author should have gotten many of his facts straight.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Motown: Berry, Relationships, Schemes, & Amok-isms, February 22, 2004
Books and movies on the Funk Brothers and Motown artists enrapture readers and viewers with Motown's mobilized creativity and the never-again equalled gems. This book, Motown: Music, Money, Sex, and Power, by Gerald Posner is a great read with a different perspective. It shows the toils, foibles, relationships, un-substantiated schemes, and amok-isms behind the skin of the Motown company ("Beauty is only skin deep." Yawn, yes. But, it is true.). Rather than enrapturing, this book evokes, at times, admiration and, at times, revulsion. The book suggests that Berry Gordy's greatnesses helped build the beautiful Motown and his weaknesses gave Motown cardiac arrest to the abandonment of the Detroit musicians, artists, and the world-wide listening public. The reader infers from this book that Berry Gordy, perhaps alone, landed on his feet - a rich man of questionable conscience with many good people left as his road kill. Read this book (and others) to see whether you share in my perception or not.
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Motown: Music, Money, Sex, and Power
Motown: Music, Money, Sex, and Power by Gerald Posner (Paperback - October 11, 2005)
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