(“The white rock one”)
Rare Earth Records, named for (and by) the band Rare Earth, the first successful white rock band on Motown’s books, was Berry Gordy’s attempt to give the company a piece of the emerging white rock FM radio action.
The idea was that by establishing a new label for such acts, Motown’s forays into progressive and psychedelic rock would be disassociated with the “Motown sound” and forge an identity all of their own. In practice, the label quickly became a depository for all Motown’s white rock/pop signings, with little in the way of creative cohesion between the varied acts on the label. Several white Motown signings who had previously struggled for attention (R. Dean Taylor, the Messengers, the Ones) were assigned to the new imprint, as well as white pop acts who had little in common with the FM rock of the label’s namesake (Mickey Denton, Allan Nicholls).
Motown had dabbled in genres outside the r&b/soul spectrum before, and had even set up specialist subsidiary labels for some of these ventures – Mel-o-dy for country & western, Divinity for gospel, Workshop Jazz for, well, jazz – but never anything on this scale. Rare Earth Records was launched with a major marketing campaign in 1969. To underline the new imprint’s white rock credentials, numerous 7″ singles by European rock bands were licensed from European labels to flesh out the release schedule, one of which – Private Sorrow by the Pretty Things – became the first single slated for release on Rare Earth in July 1969.
Perhaps fittingly, that first single doesn’t appear to have actually been issued, paving the way for a catalogue of minor disappointments under the Rare Earth banner. Oh, there were a few hits along the way, most notably for R. Dean Taylor (Indiana Wants Me) and the eponymous Rare Earth (a string of Temptations covers including a live rendition of Get Ready), but by and large the company lacked the experience, contacts and financial muscle to compete with established white rock labels on this new turf, and the release schedules eventually thinned out as Motown lost interest.
By 1972, the Rare Earth roster had been pared down to a mere handful of artists; between 1973 and 1976, the imprint only released singles by Rare Earth themselves. The last single released on the Rare Earth label was Rare Earth’s Midnight Lady in May 1976, after which the label closed its doors.
Here’s a list of the Rare Earth Records singles that have been covered on Motown Junkies so far.
RARE EARTH RECORDS: SINGLES DISCOGRAPHY (incomplete)
(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.)