Midnight Music: "Moratorium" by Earl Van Dyke
As I work my way through the absolutely-stellar "Motown Unreleased: 1969" digital collection that was released just days ago to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Motown Records, aka Hitsville U.S.A., I'm continually amazed by the stellar quality of the music. I'll probably be doing a written review with links to some of the highlights that have blown me away, but none of them have slapped me sideways like the song "Moratorium" by Earl Van Dyke. Van Dyke was the keyboardist and bandleader for the group of session musicians that played on so many Motown tracks in the sixties, sometime collectively called the Funk Brothers. This track features the Funk Brothers breaking down a new Motown sound, and really shows an evolving era. The wailing guitars, electric organ, bongos, tamborines, and shuffling drums represent the coming of the seventies and this track feels, frankly, a lot more dangerous than the Motown sound as it had existed for the previous--and first--decade of the studio. This song seems to be cut from the same cloth as Isaac Hayes' theme from the movie Shaft, leaning heavily into rock, funk, and soul. With it's dirty, gritty, low-down quality, it sounds a lot more rooted in Memphis than Detroit. Either way, out of all sixty unreleased tracks on the new digital collection, this one's my favorite, and I wanted to share it with you.