Tamla

(“The first one”)

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

The first (and, for my money, the best) of the various Motown labels founded by Berry Gordy Jr., Tamla Records was formed in 1959, and was initially going to be called “Tammy Records” after the then-recent hit song by Debbie Reynolds, from the movie Tammy and the Bachelor. Supposedly this was chosen because Gordy wanted his records to have immediate crossover appeal, and naming his label after a mainstream pop hit by a squeaky-clean white singer seemed a good signal of intent.

Stories differ as to how “Tammy” became “Tamla”; it’s not clear whether there was already a Tammy Records somewhere, or whether the threat of legal action prompted a cautious Gordy to slightly alter the name. Either way, Tamla’s first release was Marv Johnson’s Come To Me b/w Whisper in January 1959, and the label – later home to such Motown luminaries as Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and the Marvelettes – remained in operation until being merged with Motown’s main line at the end of 1986. The last ever Tamla single was Smokey Robinson’s Love Will Set You Free, released in October 1986.

In between, the Tamla imprint was responsible for releasing some of the best singles in the Motown canon. Here’s a list of the ones covered on Motown Junkies so far.

TAMLA RECORDS: 45 DISCOGRAPHY (1959-1965)


(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.)

5 thoughts on “Tamla”

  1. Robb Klein said:

    There was a Tammy Records operating in New York in 1959, who probably threatened a lawsuit.

    Like

  2. Kevin Dorey said:

    Would you know the record label number for the single reflections by the Supremes i have found 960 and 616 i would like it tattooed so important to get right !

    Like

  3. Normand Pigeon said:

    What about Stevie Wonder song (Fingertips) it should be on the list

    Like

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