Motown's famous Funk Brother's band was the mainstay for all the great hits made during the Detroit era of the label, and they were a truly formidable lot.
Although the players were great, it was the arrangements that really made the hit songs work. Here's a great example of a beautifully simple arrangement of a pop song with The Supremes "You Keep Me Hangin' On." Here's what to listen for.
1. The song features one of the smaller combos found on a typical Motown session. There are drums, 3 guitars (the usual compliment on most Motown songs), organ, percussion, tambourine and James Jamerson's great bass.
2. Listen to the interplay of the guitars. There's a high and low guitar playing the basic riff, and a 12 string outlining the chord changes. During the bridge the parts change, but all work on their own and never get in the way rhythmically. Oh, and all of the parts are dead clean as well.
3. Speaking of guitars, the 12 string that's outlining the chords is often behind the beat, which is unusual for most Motown songs, since most players had great time. The fact that it wasn't fixed is probably due to the fact that it was recorded live married to another instrument on the same track.
4. Listen to the low galloping percussion during the bridge playing roughly the same figure as the bass. You can hear it well here but not in the final mix.
5. While the tracks might sound dry, there's actually a tiny amount of a short reverb on everything that keeps the instruments in your face without seeming washed out.