The Moondance and ‘Motown 25’

DVD set brims with brand new features

Sep. 15, 2016
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Motown was a remarkable African-American success story. The Detroit-based indie record label lent its name to a whole genre of ‘60s soul music and dominated the pop charts for years. Owner Berry Gordy ran his label like an old-time Hollywood studio, a self-contained world with a staff of songwriters, musicians, engineers, producers—even a finishing school for its stars, many of them from impoverished backgrounds.

In 1983, the label celebrated itself with an NBC TV special, “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever.” One of the most watched and talked about programs of its time (and probably the most significant TV concert special ever), “Motown 25” was hosted by Richard Pryor and brought together a roster of talent from the label’s golden years, including The Supremes, The Temptations, The Miracles and The Four Tops.

More importantly, it marked the rise of Michael Jackson from star to superstar. During his performance of “Billie Jean,” Jackson debuted the dance step that set the pace for the decade and became his trademark, the Moonwalk.

The program has been released for home video before but never in a package as deluxe as the new “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever” box set. The six-DVD collection includes nearly half an hour of performances unaired during the original broadcast plus over 14 hours of bonus features including Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder rehearsal footage; numerous interviews with participants; roundtables with Smokey Robinson and other Motown veterans; and a gaggle of other specially produced features.

 

 

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