In 1983, music icons like Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross came together for Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, a live NBC special that celebrated the 25th year of that legendary label. Now an updated version of the program will air Saturday, February 28th at 8 p.m. EST on over 300 public television stations in the U.S., followed by an immediate repeat screening. Motown 25 featured a number of monumental pop culture moments, including Michael Jackson executing his oft-imitated “Moonwalk” during a performance of “Billie Jean” and reunions from the Jackson 5, Diana Ross and the Supremes and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.
The special will be accompanied by Motown: Big Hits & More, a new seven-CD box set of classic Motown hits, album tracks and rarities. The massive, 144-track release will feature “25 new stereo mixes of classic songs,” including the Temptations’ “Get Ready,” Stevie Wonder’s “Uptight (Everything’s Alright),” Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ “I Second That Emotion” and Martha and the Vandellas’ “Heatwave.” The new versions were assembled by TJ Lubinsky, an executive producer for several of PBS’ pledge-driven programs. Working with the “original stages and pre-mixed stages” of recordings made at the famed Hitsville USA studio, his team uncovered a number of revelatory surprises.
“Most often the songs went much longer than the fades we are used to hearing,” Lubinsky says in a statement. “And sometimes even extra verses were uncovered, like Smokey Robinson and the Miracles ad-libbing the line, ‘the tracks of my tears, I’ve been crying for years,’ which has never been heard before because it was on the original session tapes past the fade-out on the 45.”
The release will be available to members who pledge to public television stations during the February 28th broadcast of Motown 25 and at www.treasurycollection.com.