(“The Californian one”)

**This is a discography for MoWest Records – other Motown labels are listed here. If you’re looking for a full list of every Motown single, try the Master Index instead!**

Like VIP seven years earlier, MoWest was founded in January 1971 as a specialist label to handle Motown’s West Coast acts.

Much had changed in those seven years, however; while in 1963/4 VIP’s initial roster of California-based artists and LA recordings were very much a minority among the Hitsville material coming out of Detroit which made up the bulk of Motown’s catalogue, by 1971 the plan to move Motown’s entire operation to Los Angeles was well and truly underway and more and more sessions were taking place on the West Coast.

The first single issued on MoWest was DJ Tom Clay’s baffling What The World Needs Now/Abraham, Martin And John, in June of 1971; the label went on to release records by the likes of Thelma Houston, Syreeta Wright and GC Cameron during its short lifespan, as well as featuring the earliest Motown appearance of the Commodores, but Motown’s full-blown permanent move to Los Angeles in 1972 negated the need for a separate Californian label, and MoWest sputtered to a halt in early 1973. The last MoWest single was Thelma Houston’s Piano Man.

Here’s a list of the MoWest Records singles that have been covered on Motown Junkies so far.


(this is just a placeholder, we’re not at 1971 yet!)

(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.)

2 thoughts on “MoWest”

  1. Another factor which may’ve cinched Motown’s relocation to L.A. (besides everything else brought up) was the April 1972 closure of RCA Records’ “Mid-America Recording Center” in Chicago at 1 North Wacker Drive (opened 1969 as a replacement for their prior Chicago studios at 445 North Lake Shore Drive which had been in operation since 1935). From about 1962 until then, the bulk of Motown’s LP’s and 45’s were cut at RCA Chicago; one of the more famous mastering engineers there was Randy Kling who, after RCA Chicago shut down, transferred to their Nashville studios (among the sides he cut there was Perry Como’s last Top 40 hit, “And I Love You So,” from 1973). Another RCA Chicago mastering engineer (whose name I don’t know at the moment) had what looked like an interlocking “dr” or “dn” signature which resembled Columbia Records’ “Lp” logo turned upside-down; he later went to RCA’s Hollywood studios where among the artists he cut records for was John Denver. Yet another cutter at RCA Chicago had a signature with an “ohm” symbol above an underline. These engineers were the only ones who signed either their names or symbols to the lacquers they cut – unlike at, say, RCA’s New York studios. (A few months after RCA bailed out of Chicago, Curtis Mayfield purchased the studios and turned them into the studios for his own Curtom operation.)

    As well, RCA’s custom matrix numbering system was well in evidence on most Motown releases in this period; the peak year for RCA Custom apparently was 1966 where more than 21,200 numbers were assigned in all surviving vinyl formats of the time (LP, Little LP, 45), to the point their 45 codes went from T4KM to TK4M to 4TKM – the latter of which was on the matrix numbers for The Supremes’ early 1967 Number One “Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone.”

    (A side note: a few Motown 45’s in 1969-70 were mastered at RCA’s Hollywood studios at 6363 Sunset Boulevard, namely The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” and the first post-Diana Ross single from The Supremes, “Up the Ladder to the Roof.” I know of no Motown or subsidiary 45’s mastered in New York or Nashville.)


    • I doubt that mastering location was much of a factor. Nashville isn’t all that much further away from Detroit than is Chicago. Whatever weight having a couple of their favourite record masterers nearby would carry would pale in comparison to Berry wanting to be located in L.A. for him to have better access to more important and powerful people, to be near the centre of the film industry to get into the film-making business, and to be located within one of The World’s most important media centres, to promote his company, acts and products.


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