December 3, 2008 at 1:00 am

'Now' music series celebrates Motown's 50th with CD

"Now That's What I Call Music" will release its Motown CD on Jan. 13. )

To kick off Motown Records' 50th anniversary year, on Jan. 13 the popular "Now That's What I Call Music" music series is releasing "Now That's What I Call Motown," a collection of 25 of the top Motown songs of all time. The album will be available in digital and CD form.

It's the first time that the "Now" series is celebrating a single record label.

The 10-year-old "Now" series, which just released "Now That's What I Call Music 29," is usually a collection of the current top pop hits, although there have been several "Now That's What I Call Christmas Music" sets.

The 25 Motown hits are from the classic era stretching from the founding of the label in 1959 to 1981, appear in order of release, and start with "Money (That's What I Want)," the '59 hit by Barrett Strong co-written by Motown founder Berry Gordy, along with company secretary Janie Bradford. ("Money" was later covered by the Beatles, among others.)

The most recent song is 1981's "Super Freak" by Rick James.

In between is a cross-section of Motown's most popular songs, including "Shop Around" by the Miracles (the label's first R&B No. 1); "Please Mr. Postman" by the Marvelettes (the label's first pop No. 1); "You Keep Me Hanging On" by the Supremes; "Shotgun" by Jr. Walker and the All-Stars; "Dancing in the Street" by Martha and the Vandellas; "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" by the Four Tops; "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye; "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" by Stevie Wonder; "War" by Edwin Starr; "The Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles; "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye; and "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5, among others.

The "Now That's What I Call Music" series has sold more than 70 million units in the U.S., and will likely introduce classic Motown songs to a new generation.

"Now That's What I Call Motown" follows the Dec. 9 release of the 10-CD deluxe set, "Motown: The Complete No. 1's," which is packaged in a special box designed to look like the Hitsville house on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, and released by Motown/UMe.

You can reach Susan Whitall at (313) 222-2156 or swhitall@detnews.com.