Search - Contours :: Very Best of

Very Best of
Very Best of
Genres: Pop, R&B, Rock
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #1

One of the most amusing aspects of the mega-success of Motown's often smooth mid- to late-'60s "sound of young America" is that some of the company's earlier scores came courtesy of the Contours, whose best records practic...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Contours
Title: Very Best of
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: Motown
Original Release Date: 3/23/1999
Release Date: 3/23/1999
Album Type: Original recording remastered
Genres: Pop, R&B, Rock
Styles: Oldies, Classic R&B, Motown, Soul, Oldies & Retro
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 731454950428

One of the most amusing aspects of the mega-success of Motown's often smooth mid- to late-'60s "sound of young America" is that some of the company's earlier scores came courtesy of the Contours, whose best records practically redefined the word "raucous." Modeled loosely on the R&B comedies of the Coasters, songs such as "Do You Love Me," "First I Look at the Purse," and "You Get Ugly" limned the common experience of the (sometimes slightly unsavory) man on the street. Finally, check out Billy Gordon's throat-shredding performances on the likes of "Purse" and "Pa, I Need a Car" for a possible influence on Chris Rock in his most belligerent moments. --Rickey Wright

CD Reviews

Big Improvement over previous Contours collection
James E. Bagley | Sanatoga, PA USA | 09/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This quintet recorded for Motown (actually the Gordy subsidiary label) for seven years (1961-1967), yet they never really got much respect. While one of Motown's most visually exciting acts, the Contours represented R & B at its raunchiest. This raw R & B sound was at odds with the smooth grooves Berry Gordy was creating with acts like the Supremes in order to successfully woo all of young America to the Motown Sound. The Contours would have been far more appreciated had they come out of Memphis and recorded for the Stax or Volt labels.

The frenetic dance smash "Do You Love Me" from 1962 was their biggest hit. It also established the Contours' sound, as Billy Gordon's screaming lead took them unharmoniously through a series of semi-successful dance singles like "Shake Sherry," "Can You Jerk Like Me," "Can You Do It," and the Smokey Robinson penned "First I Look At The Purse" (the latter is probably their best recording - how can you go wrong with lines like "She can be covered with a rash, long as she's got some cash!"). After Gordon left, the Contours cut their most melodic singles with a pair of great short-term lead singers: former Falcon Joe Stubbs on "Just A Little Misunderstanding" (1966) and future Temptation Dennis Edwards on "It's So Hard Being A Loser" (1967).

All of the singles noted above are found on the Contours' ten-track, 1981 Motown compilation which was also titled Do You Love Me. What this fifteen-track set gives you in addition to the hits is a few of the B-sides and some previously unreleased material. Especially noteworthy is the Stubbs-led "Determination" and the pre-"Do You Love Me" single "Funny" (the latter previously unavailable anywhere on CD). My only quibble: the omission of the Edwards-led "Baby Hit And Run." If you love Motown, you gotta have this Contours set in your collection. You'll be dancing for days!"
What Does EVERY Man Look at First?
Milo Miles | Cambridge, MA USA | 10/02/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"A little older and a lot raunchier than the average early-'60s Motown recruits, the Contours got no respect from Berry Gordy, he says, because they were just too hard to control on the tour bus. The gals and the gin were not safe with these guys around. But for nobody else did Smokey Robinson let his Id so completely off the leash. "If the purse is fat/That's where it's at." Party platter for the ages, docked a star only because there's no excuse for not releasing a "Complete Contours" collection."
All their goodies in one place
D.V. Lindner | King George, VA, USA | 02/28/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The absence of Holland-Dozier-Holland material in the Contours catalog, attests to the second-string status this group held at Motown, despite a right-out-of-the-box 1962 dance smash, 'Do You Love Me.' A subsequent generation became enjoyably familiar with it too, thanks to the film, 'Dirty Dancing.' The group's raucous image couldn't have been all put-on, as Berry Gordy is quoted as referring to them as hoodlums, and endeavored to keep his female stars well away from them. (He didn't succeed there completely: one of his Marvelettes, Julianna Tillman married Contour Billy Gordon.) Despite no H-D-H material here, Smokey Robinson came through for this group wonderfully on two occasions here. 'First I Look At The Purse,' was Motown's first, funny novelty hit - not Shorty Long's 1968, 'Here Comes The Judge.' as might be supposed. 'Purse' was a must have single in my neighborhood in the summer of '65, as much as any top ten hit of this group's stablemate Supremes, Tops or Temps. Then, Smokey profoundly subdues the groups wild image with 'That Day When She Needed Me,' orginally the B-side to 'Can You Jerk Like Me.' 'Day' is the story of a guy who didn't let his girl know in time how much she meant to him, and is as good as any heartbreak ballad Smoke did with his own group, The Miracles. The lead's sad story is matched wonderfully with perfectly sympathetic inquiry by the rest of the group. I don't think Robinson ever more perfected a 'call & response' record that bests this. 1963's 'You Get Ugly,' while funny, and perfectly in line with the group's image, can't escape clear comparison to it's obvious influence: Jimmy's Soul's #1, profoundly pre-feminist era hit the same year - 'If You Wanna Be Happy.' Dance jams like 'Can You Do It,' 'Can You Jerk Like Me,' and 'Shake Sherry,' round things out nicely and augment their signature, 'Do You Love Me.'"