The 1983 television special where Motown celebrated their 25th anniversary. Also, the televised debut of the Moonwalk.


“Motown 25: Yesterday, Today and Forever” was a pretty huge deal when it hits NBC back in 1983. The biggest stars of Motown with a smattering of the year’s biggest talents just blew out. Plus, you had the debut of the Moonwalk. That is some TV history in the course of what should’ve been a standard TV concert show. Time Life and StarVista have brought together a three disc that shows you every aspect of the production. Some have been talking about the Rehearsal Version on Disc 2 where you get to hear Marvin Gaye deliver an amazing version of What’s Going on that very few people have seen to this day.

While the show originally came on the air when I was 2, I had the fortune of seeing it on early VHS recordings in those ugly old clamshells. Over the years, I would marvel to the casual nature of Richard Pryor hosting job. No one gives Pryor credit for being able to transition between edgy comic and mainstream entertainer so well. They want to frame that crap with jabs at “The Toy” or “Superman III”. The man held his own with some major musical talents. But, if anything this show wasn’t about Pryor or any of the non musicians. This was Motown ending the classic era and showing the world that they were going to take over the televised image of music. They just had some kinks to work out.

Michael Jackson became a visual icon with this event, all the while everyone else forgets about the small oddities that made up the rest of the show. Marvin Gaye provided a strong performance, while Stevie Wonder and others handed medleys of their studio hits. Then, there was Jose Feliciano introducing Adam Ant. If I could find another weird segue, I don’t know how it would be possible. Feliciano made sense, as he was covering material from a deceased artist. Diana Ross was there and performed in the show. I wonder what she made of this particular cover?

The DVD comes with featurettes, bonus footage and roundtables about the event on the third disc as the special features. The A/V Quality is lovingly restored for this release. However, I wish the source material allowed for a proper HD upgrade. Oh well, I’ll take what I can get. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase to all fans of Motown.

RELEASE DATE: 09/30/2014

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