Review of "Motown 25: Yesterday Today Forever" From The TV MegaSite

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Motown 25: Yesterday Today Forever DVD cover


Motown 25: Yesterday Today Forever

 Review by Suzanne Lanoue 1/14/15

This was a musical special that aired back in 1983. I watched it live and then later taped it on VHS when they showed it again. I also taped the subsequent specials they did, but the first one was definitely the best. I'm glad it's finally out on DVD. I know a lot of people loved the show and wanted a copy. I used to trade VHS tapes (I had to stop because I just ran out of time), and this show was one of my most-requested.

Back then, we didn't have the internet or DVD's (most people didn't have VCR's yet, either), so we could only watch things like this live, and it was rare to see the artists we grew up with on TV, let alone all at once. This show had all of the Motown superstars that were still alive by then (and most of them were), plus it featured Michael Jackson, who was already big but about to become a huge superstar. This was where he first showed the Moonwalk, so it was a big deal.  I recall thinking that his voice definitely changed because when he sang song of his older hits from when he was a little boy, he had to change the key.

There are so many great moments, but my favorite was when Linda Ronstadt sang with Smokey Robinson. She did a lot of Motown covers and was briefly with that label. It was great to see all of them, including Diana Ross (reuniting with the Supremes!) and Stevie Wonder. Richard Pryor was on there, too.

Just having the special itself would be great enough, but with this set they also have a whole slew of DVD interviews with the people in the show and the ones running it.  It comes in a nice box with 2 sets of DVD's inside and a pretty booklet with great photos.

If you love Motown music, you'll definitely want to check this out!



When Motown 25: Yesterday · Today · Forever aired on NBC on May 16, 1983, it was an immediate sensation and became one of the most talked about concerts and TV specials ever.  In an era before social media, MOTOWN 25 was a true water-cooler event, marking the first time that music fans saw Michael Jackson do the moonwalk (aka: the six seconds that changed the world), in addition to many other iconic performances.  Six months after the broadcast, the show deservedly won a George Foster Peabody Award and an Emmy® Award for best Variety Program, but has been unseen for over 20 years...until now.  This fall, StarVista Entertainment/Time Life, in conjunction with de Passe Jones Entertainment and Berry Gordy's West Grand Media, is making this historic show available on DVD for the very first time.


Motown 25 was taped before a live audience and showcased virtually every Motown artist from the company's inception, including Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, The Supremes, The Jackson 5, The Miracles, The Temptations, Four Tops and many others.  The show also featured many guests outside the Motown Records sphere who had been influenced by Motown artists, including Linda Ronstadt, who performed a memorable duet with Smokey Robinson, Billy Dee Williams, Jose Feliciano and British new wave star Adam Ant, who was riding a wave of popularity from MTV exposure.  As an added highlight, the historic evening was hosted by Richard Pryor, who was arguably the hottest comedian in the world at the time. A seminal event in pop culture history, this concert event would establish the gold standard for all future televised concert events and go on to provide the backstory for the Tony®-nominated Broadway play, Motown The Musical.  Now, StarVista Entertainment/Time Life will make this once-in-a-lifetime concert available to music lovers in a deluxe 6-DVD collector's set ($79.95), which will be available exclusively online at MOTOWN25DVDS.COM.  


The release features an extended version of the show, with over 20 additional minutes not seen on the original broadcast, as well as brand-new 5.1 surround sound revealing the music at its fullest potential.  The 6-DVD set also includes nine newly-produced featurettes and additional bonus programming including: "Signed, Sealed, Delivered - The Making of Motown 25", which tells the behind-the-scenes story of the making of the program, and offers new insights into the rise of Motown and its roster of super stars, rare footage of Marvin Gaye ad-libbing at the piano prior to a soulful version of "What's Going On", Stevie Wonder rehearsal footage, a 2-Part Motown 25 Performers Roundtable featuring Smokey Robinson and Duke Fakir (Four Tops), Otis Williams (The Temptations) and Executive Producer Suzanne de Passe, taped at the location of the original concert, the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and over 25 exclusive interviews with performers and crew, including Claudette Robinson (The Miracles), Martha Reeves (Martha & the Vandellas), Smokey Robinson, Nelson George, Gloria Jones, Adam Ant, Ashford and Simpson, Buz Kohan (Head Writer), David Goldberg (Executive in Charge of Production), Mickey Stevenson (Former Head of A&R/Songwriter), Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (Songwriters/Producers) and many more.  Also included in the deluxe collector's box are an exclusive 48-page collector's booklet packed with information about the show and artists, production materials and never-before-scene photos from the production, essays on Motown performers, a copy of the original Motown 25 program and more!

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Page updated 1/14/15

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