Mowest – Album Reviews – The Word & Pitchfork – July 2011 (posted by Harry)


MowestThe Word – Lead Album Review for Our Lives Are Shaped by What We Love: Mowtown’s Mowest Story 1971-1973

“Most of the best music on this compilation from the good offices of Seattle crate-diggers Light In The Attic has that very West coast wistfulness you find running through hippy rock from The Mamas & The Papas to Laurel Canyon, a sense of sun and open spaces. If Motown meant turning cramped confines and Fordist drudgery to the production of happy songs, Mowest tunes, such as Odyssey’s stupendous title track, are infused with a sense of limitless possibilities, a place where there’s no need to rush because even time is on your side.”

“This seems to be the Mowest story in a microcosm.”

“Mowest made great forward-looking should that was the equal to Philly”

Pitchfork Album Review 7.8

“This story is a microcosm of MoWest’s inauspicious reign as the forgotten moment of one of the most iconic labels in the history of pop. The creation of the imprint was part of Berry Gordy Jr.’s gradual shift of Motown operations from Detroit to Los Angeles, away from the assembly line production of the label’s peak years. The Holland-Dozier-Holland team had already departed, replaced in part by Norman Whitfield and a raft of superstar auteurs: Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, and Diana Ross. The shift to Los Angeles also marked the end of the singular Detroit sound, as the label became reliant on a rotating cast of session musicians. But even with all the upheaval, it’s difficult to figure out why MoWest fell through the cracks; the music contained in Our Lives Are Shaped By What We Love: Motown’s MoWest Story 1971-1973 is almost uniformly great. The compilation showcases a wide range of notable artists– a 1971 Billboard article notes the label’s purpose was to “expand Motown’s musical horizons”– at varying stages in their careers.” More …..

  • First ever Mowest anthology

  • Extensive liner notes and photos

  • Lovingly re-mastered from the original tapes

  • Double LP housed in an old school gatefold tip-on jacket.

Regardless of talent, quality, and financial backing, Mowest faced an uphill battle. With the majority of Motown’s focus on the already established names of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, and their latest chart dynamos, The Jackson 5, there wasn’t as much attention being given to the diverse Mowest roster. Acts like Syreeta, Sisters Love, and G.C. Cameron seemed to get lost in the shuffle. Though the label released over forty singles and close to a dozen albums from up and comers like Odyssey to established veterans Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, the expected hits never materialized and the imprint quietly folded in 1973. While Mowest artists The Commodores, Thelma Houston, and the aforementioned Cameron continued on with Motown proper, the sub label’s catalogue quickly gathered dust in the cut-out bins of record stores throughout the States.

*Gone but not completely forgotten, the best of Mowest gently reverberated around the world in the way that great yet under-appreciated music usually does, from word-of-mouth praise and burning hearts like UK Northern Soul devotees adopting Frankie Valli’s “The Night” as a dance floor anthem, Japanese rare groove DJs spinning Odyssey’s “Our Lives Are Shaped By What We Love” at Tokyo free soul events, and NYC cut-and-paste king Danny Krivit’s notorious Sisters Love “Give Me Your Love” edit. Forty years later, it’s time for the rest of the world to rediscover what a treasure trove of soulful sounds Mowest left behind. Our Lives Are Shaped By What We Love is a lovingly prepared 16-track CD, 2 LP set with epic re-mastering from the original master tapes by engineer Dave Cooley (Blue Note, Warp, Stones Throw, Now Again), extensive liner notes from project curator Kevin “Sipreano” Howes (Jamaica-Toronto series, Doug Randle, Rodriguez, Monks), and Strath Shepard’s (Pacific Standard) impeccable graphic design. This is a slice of Motown like you’ve never heard or seen before, so let’s head to the beach, set up shop, and max out to the rhythm. Looking at the Pacific, it appears that Mowest’s surf is just about to break.


1. Frankie Valli & Four Seasons – You’re A Song (That I Can’t Sing)
2. Odyssey – Our Lives Are Shaped By What We Love
3. Sisters Love – Give Me Your Love
4. G.C. Cameron – Act Like A Shotgun
5. Syreeta – I Love Every Little Thing About You
6. Syreeta – Black Maybe
7. Frankie Valli & Four Seasons – Sun Country
8. Odyssey – Battened Ships

9. Suzee Ikeda – I Can’t Give Back The Love I Feel For You
10. The Commodores – Don’t You Be Worried
11. Sisters Love – You’ve Got To Make Your Choice
12. Odyssey – Broken Road
13. Nu Page – A Heart Is A House
14. Lodi – I Hope I See It In My Lifetime
15. Frankie Valli & Four Seasons – The Night
16. Thelma Houston – I Ain’t Going Nowhere


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