Quick question – do you know who actually played the music on the song “My Girl?” Or Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” Or the song “Heat Wave?” Or “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg?” Or “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?” Or “I Heard It Through the Grapevine?” Or “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough?” Or “(Reach Out) I’ll Be There?” Get the point?

Yeah, well, I didn’t know either. I suspect there’s only a very few of us out there who know. I’m ashamed, actually, that I never thought to ask myself that very question and find out. Today I watched the movie Standing In The Shadows Of Motown, and now I know how powerful a juggernaut The Funk Brothers were – they were the band behind virtually every single Motown song recorded during the 1960s when Motown was a cultural force and at its creative apex. This was simply an essential movie for anyone who likes or appreciates great music. Educational, heartwarming and sometimes sad, the movie is interspersed with some great performances from a Funk Brothers show recorded in Detroit a few years back, with some modern day artists taking the microphone for vocals. Joan Osborne, in particular, really shines on a few of these songs.

It’s all so strange, really. I always just assocaited Motown with the 3 or 4 people who were always up front, singing. The Temptations. The Miracles. The Four Tops. Martha & The Vandellas. Gladys Knight. Stevie Wonder. The Supremes…….they were the music behind it all. To put this into more perspective, this almost completley behind-the-scenes group has played on more number one hit songs than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis and the Beatles combined – which makes them, according to the website, “the greatest hit machine in the history of popular music.” Anyone want to argue that? I didn’t think so. See the movie.

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