Music Throwback Saturday: Rare Earth

Motown did not have a name for the new division, so jokingly, the band suggested the name Rare Earth.

rare earthRare Earth was NOT the first all-white group signed by Motown. The Wikipedia cites The Rustix, The Dalton Boys, and The Underdogs as predecessors on the label; I actually have a couple Underdogs tracks on some compilations.

But the group, which had started up in high school as “The Sunliners”, decided, after seven years to change the name of the band to “Rare Earth”, and ended up as clearly the most successful white band on the label.

Motown Record Corporation approached Rare Earth in the latter part of 1968 to sign a recording contract. At first the group was reluctant to sign because of knowing of other white groups and artists before them that had not had any success… It was when Motown decided they wanted to launch a new division of Motown to cater to white artists that Rare Earth started to seriously consider signing.

Motown did not have a name for the new division… so jokingly, the band suggested the name Rare Earth. Unbelievably they agreed.

On 20 Hard to Find Motown Classics, Volume 1 (1990), there appears Get Ready (pop #4, soul #20 in 1970) and (I Know) I’m Losing You (pop #7, soul #20 in 1970), both songs previously recorded by the Temptations. Both Rare Earth covers did better on the pop charts than did the Temps, whose pair of #1 soul hits only went to #29 and #8, respectively, on the pop charts in 1966.

20 Hard to Find Motown Classics, Volume 2 (1990) includes I Just Want To Celebrate (#7 pop, #30 soul in 1971) and Born To Wander (#17 pop, #48 soul) in 1971.

Get Ready was also the name of Rare Earth’s second album (#12 pop), with the title song, written by Smokey Robinson, taking up the whole second side. Ecology, the third album (#15 pop), featured Born To Wander and a nearly 11-minute version of I’m Losing You.

Many years later, Get Ready and Ecology were on on twofer CD, which I bought, but the Ecology songs were obviously shortened. They substituted the album version of I’m Losing You with the three-minute single version, and trimmed Eleanor Rigby and other songs, which really ticked me off.

I Just Want to Celebrate was on the fourth album, One World (#28 pop).

LISTEN TO
Get Ready – single version and album version and album version

I’m Losin’ You – single version and album version and album version

Born to Wander – version here and here

I Just Want To Celebrate – version here and here

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. i hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

One thought on “Music Throwback Saturday: Rare Earth”

  1. There’s a message board I’ve been on for the last couple of decades, and if they’re at all unified on anything, it’s that the 10:56 take of “(I Know) I’m Losing You” is an abomination unto the Lord, or at least unto Norman Whitfield. I am the one holdout; I loved it, I bought the Ecology LP before Get Ready, and my heart was filled with rage, or at least minor irritation, at discovering the single version on that twofer CD.

    At least part of the problem is that there’s no easy way to edit those 11 minutes down to three and a half; there were a couple of overdubs added to the single mix. Digital technology has advanced enough in the last few years to make it possible to fly in those overdubs from the 45; maybe someone with some talent in this realm — I know the basics, but I’m not really skilled at it — will someday pull this off.

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