Berry Gordy, Jr., started arguably the most famous record label in the history of music because he felt cheated.
The Motown family of record labels that dominated the soul landscape for nearly two decades began as a way for Gordy to receive a larger share of song proceeds than he was getting as a songwriter.
Gordy brought an assembly-line quality to the record business and — using a team of songwriters and acts like The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5 and The Supremes — his label landed a virtually unprecedented number of hits with a pop-soul style that came to be known as the “Motown Sound.”
Jumping into the discography of a family of labels that had 110 top 10 hits from 1961-71 alone can be daunting. That’s why we’ve gathered the top 20 essential Motown tracks to get you started.