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Personnel include: Michael McDonald (vocals); Toni Braxton (vocals); Michael Thompson (guitar); Stevie Wonder (harmonica); Tim Carmon (piano, Wurlitzer piano, organ, synthesizer); Billy Preston (Hammond b-3 organ); Nathan East (bass guitar); Simon Climie (programming, background vocals); Toby Baker (keyboard programming); Sharon White, Lawrence Johnson , Rachel Oteh, Michelle John, Joy Malcomb (background vocals).
Michael McDonald's first disc of Motown covers signaled a popular rebirth for the veteran blue-eyed-soul singer, garnering several Grammy nominations and reaching the Top 20 on the Billboard chart. The project was a critical and artistic success as well, the sound of Diana, Marvin, et al proving a perfect match for McDonald's voice. Happily, the second volume seems born of a genuine desire to keep the good vibes going.
MOTOWN TWO again pairs the former Doobie Brother with a collection of A-list pop studio musicians (bassist Nathan East, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, etc.), but also features several key cameos. Stevie Wonder contributes his immediately identifiable harmonica stylings on “I Was Made to Love Her,” while Toni Braxton proves a worthy heir to the Motown divas of yore on “Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart).” Interestingly enough, the smooth production style and the Teddy Pendergrass-esque gruffness of McDonald's voice often make the record seem more like 1970s Philadelphia than '60s Detroit. A rare genre-specific covers album that sounds like a tribute instead of a retread, MOTOWN TWO is an unusually satisfying sequel.
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