(“The Seventies one”)
Former Motown sales director Barney Ales had struck out on his own in 1974, founding a new label, Prodigal Records, with Gordon Prince. The name was meant to indicate Ales returning to Detroit following Motown’s wholesale relocation to Los Angeles. Early releases came from established names like Gary U.S. Bonds, Shirley Alston (of the Shirelles), and Ronnie McNeir.
Motown liked what they heard, and made Barney an offer to rejoin the Hitsville fold in late 1975 as Executive Vice-President, buying out Prodigal Records in the process – marking the return of Ales as Motown’s “prodigal son”, making the name doubly appropriate!
Prodigal was quickly turned into a replacement for VIP Records, an outlet for acts Motown didn’t really know what to do with. Besides McNeir, Prodigal became home to Charlene, Dunn & Rubini and Fresh, as well as refugees from the main Motown group like boxer Joe Frazier and the white rock group Rare Earth. The label was finally shut down in early 1979.
Here’s a list of the Prodigal Records singles that have been covered on Motown Junkies so far.
THE PRODIGAL RECORDS SINGLES: THE MOTOWN YEARS
(Click a song title to read a full review of that side. NB: The coloured numbers after each title indicate the highly subjective mark out of ten I gave that song on the day I happened to write about it. They weren’t intended to be taken too seriously.)