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The Ultimate Motown Collection

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Album Review

Barbara McNair is certainly not the only singer to get lost in the shuffle at Motown at the company's mid-'60s zenith, but her tenure there seemed particularly star-crossed — as this 48-track Ultimate Motown Collection illustrates, much of her finest material was inexplicably withheld from release (in particular the much-bootlegged Northern soul classic "Baby a Go-Go"), while official singles like "My World Is Empty Without You" were issued in the wake of existing hit renditions by other Motown artists. But McNair boasted a genuinely sophisticated, sexy style that was unique in the Motown canon, and her voice — though by no means a powerhouse — is nevertheless stronger and more affecting than Diana Ross, whose hand-me-downs she often received. Compiling her full-lengths Here I Am and The Real Barbara McNair, the unreleased Barbara McNair Sings Smokey, non-LP singles, and rare vault material, this two-disc set finally pays McNair the respect she's always deserved — complete with informative liner notes and excellent sound, it's tough to imagine a better representation of her music.


Born: 04 March 1934 in Chicago, IL

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Despite a recording career that extended for nearly two decades, including a stint at the famed Motown label, Barbara McNair remains better-known as an actress than as a singer, utilizing both skills as the star of her own eponymously-titled television variety series. Born January 1, 1934, in Chicago, and raised in Racine, Wisconsin, McNair began singing as a child and, after spending a year at UCLA, she relocated to New York City, working as a secretary for the National Foundation of Settlements...
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The Ultimate Motown Collection, Barbara McNair
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