Recording information: Golden World Studios; Hitsville USA Studio, Detroit, MI; Los Angeles, CA.
A de facto sequel to the set Finders Keepers: Motown Girls 1961-67, Ace's 2014 compilation Satisfaction Guaranteed! Motown Guys 1961-69 continues the label's deep dive into the vaults of Motown. Where Finders Keepers contained some unheralded 45s and album tracks, Satisfaction Guaranteed! consists of 24 sides that have never seen the light of day (or, if they did, it was as part of the digital-only Motown Unreleased 1963). Compilers Keith Hughes and Mick Patrick aren't picking tracks for the sake of rarity, either. These 24 cuts -- which heavily showcase such Motown superstars as Marvin Gaye, Jimmy Ruffin, the Temptations, the Four Tops, and Junior Walker & the All-Stars, but also find time for cult favorites like Bobby Taylor, Marv Johnson, Shorty Long, and Gino Parks -- are pretty dynamic, whether they're following the immaculately tailored formula of early Motown or getting a little funky and gritty toward the end of the '60s. Arguing that some of these songs could've been singles is wrong (particularly in the case of the stiff supper-club rendition of "The Night We Called It a Day" by the Four Tops, easily the weakest thing here) but it also misses the point: what Satisfaction Guaranteed! reveals is not that the label was sitting on gems that could've stormed the charts but rather that Motown was a hotbed of talent -- writing, performing, production -- in the '60s. This much is known, but by shifting the focus away from what was released to what wasn't, the depth of the label becomes apparent. Even the rejected numbers crackle with excitement and invention and, some 50 years after these performances were recorded, that enduring vitality remains a bit of a welcome shock. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine