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THE BEST OF BARRETT STRONG Is Singer's First Motown Album More Than 40 Years After His Motown Hit 'Money (That's What I Want)'.

LOS ANGELES -- More than 40 years after Barrett Strong scored a major hit that bankrolled the fledgling Motown Records, the singer-songwriter headlines his first Motown album and, in one of the strangest twists in music history, it's a "best of." Strong released just a handful of singles in his Motown career, never an album, and the success of 1960's "Money (That's What I Want)" -- since covered by everyone from The Beatles to Waylon Jennings -- was crucial to the Detroit label a year after its founding.

Now THE BEST OF BARRETT STRONG edition of 20TH CENTURY MASTERS/ THE MILLENNIUM COLLECTION (Motown/UME), released January 28, 2003, brings together for the first time every Motown/Tamla single -- six singles and their B-sides, all produced by Motown founder Berry Gordy -- recorded by the "Money" man. Along with the widely available "Money," the other 11 digitally remastered selections make their CD debuts.

In 1959, Jackie Wilson introduced Strong to Gordy, who had him cut "Let's Rock" b/w "Do The Very Best You Can." The record flopped but then came "Money." Strong was still a student at Central High when he played piano on and sang the song credited to Gordy and Janie Bradford. In 1960, the track hit #2 R&B and #23 pop, becoming Motown's first true national hit. The record, backed by "Oh, I Apologize," co-penned by Gordy and his friend Smokey Robinson, was leased to Anna Records for distribution but the small label struggled with its own success. Otherwise, it might have been Motown's first million-seller.

Four singles followed through early 1961. Smokey's "Yes, No, Maybe So" was backed by the salacious "You Knows What To Do." "Whirlwind," a Strong co- composition, was the B-side to "I'm Gonna Cry (If You Quit Me)," again by Smokey. The latter's "Shop Around" vibe is no coincidence. "Shop Around" was intended for Strong but given to The Miracles, who made it Motown's first million-seller.

"Money And Me" was a comic attempt to capitalize on "Money" b/w a cover of Marv Johnson's hit "You Got What It Takes." Strong's final Motown release was the bluesy "Misery," written by Don Mancha, a groupmate in the Del-Rays while both were in high school, b/w "Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right" from Smokey and Gordy.

But the quiet Strong disliked performing and left Motown to pen songs elsewhere. Before the '60s ended, he returned to write with Norman Whitfield some of the era's best-known hits, including "I Heard It Through The Grapevine," "War" and "Just My Imagination." Today, Strong owns his own label and studio in Detroit, and produces other acts, including a rap group featuring his teenaged son.

The series 20TH CENTURY MASTERS/THE MILLENNIUM COLLECTION features new "best of" albums from the most significant music artists of the past century.

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 10, 2002
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