Five years before Edward Patten, William Guest, and Merald "Bubba" Knight outvoted lead singer Gladys Knight and joined the Motown family in 1966, the soulful quartet had established a reputation among R&B lovers as one of the most dynamic live acts in the business. With nifty choreography and tight harmonies, Gladys Knight & the Pips paid their dues through the early '60s, making some noise with hits like "Every Beat of My Heart," "Letter Full of Tears," and the soul classic "Giving Up." It took a moment for the family to stir it up at Motown, but a few releases into their stint at the Motor City hit factory, the group was delivering the goods with more consistency than ever before. This compilation focuses on the biggest pop and R&B singles they scored at Motown before jumping ship in 1973. While there are several groove tunes present ("End of Our Road," a cover of Shirley Ellis's "Nitty Gritty," the hypnotic "Friendship Train," and, of course, the frenzied "I Heard It Through the Grapevine), it's heart-wrenching ballads like "If I Were Your Woman," "I Don't Want to Do Wrong," and "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)" that demonstrate the sheer vocal power of Gladys and her guys. --David Nathan
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The Real Nitty Gritty--as in Gettin' Right Down to it...
yygsgsdrassil | Crossroads America | 03/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gladys and the boys were "too real" while evvy other soul group were trying to lose that "down home" thang--with various orchestrations, gowns, and conerts at the venues that evvy body wuddn't able to go to...but thank gawd for that 'cause we still have Gladys recording good stuff to this day and we have her and her boys from various labels and various incarnations like these pivotable Motown records years. Actually Gladys and the Pips were being released on the Motown "Soul" label (remember the 45s with the purple labels and yellow lettering?)--as if someone besides mebbe the Motown accounting folks was actually paying attention to these things. Anyhoo, GK&TPs were then labelmates with Motown streetboys, the Temptations, who also were "real" to me....gritty, graphic, soulful, they told the truth as I knew it, they all looked like someone I knew, I ran into, or a cousin I had who lived on the westside or sumtin'...for my money, "Daddy Could Swear, I Declare" "Neither One of Us", "Heard It Through The Grapevine" by Gladys and the Boys represent some of the best Motown had to offer, period. Gladys went on to do more great stuff coming to a peak, in my opinion, with "Still Such A Thing" written by Ashford and Simpson. I still pay exceptional attention when I hear that unmistakable Georgia peach voice laced with "OOoo-ooohs" coming from the boys. 'Cause they were/are the real-deal nitty gritty."