Stax artists have long found much inspiration from within the repertoire of its Detroit rival label, Motown, proven by the 15 tracks of Stax Sings Songs of Motown® Records. Joel Selvin, pop music critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, who wrote the notes for the Motown covers album, noted: "In Detroit, Motown followed an automated approach to making records, influenced no doubt by founder Berry Gordy's early work at the Ford plant, while in Memphis, the Stax musicians took a more organic tack."
Yet when the shimmering teen pop of Detroit made it down to Stax's Memphis studios, songs found a whole new life. Take, for instance, Margie Joseph's soulful reading of the Supremes' "Stop in the Name of Love." The Staple Singers' version of the Temptations' minor hit, "You've Got To Earn It," penned by Smokey Robinson, narrowly missed the R&B Top 10 in 1971. And blind soul singer Calvin Scott gave a gospel-tinged Southern workout to "Can I Get a Witness" for his album I'm Not Blind, I Just Can't See.
As he did with the Beatles, Isaac Hayes re-imagined Motown with his deconstructed cover of the Jackson 5's "Never Can Say Goodbye." The song was a highlight of Hayes' classic Black Moses album from 1971. Hayes also contributed production finesse to his frequent songwriting partner David Porter's cover of the Stevie Wonder song "I Don't Know Why I Love You," featured on Porter's 1970 Enterprise solo debut album.
Other Stax artists to cover Motown included Mavis Staples, Barbara Lewis, Billy Eckstine, the Mar-Keys, Fredrick Knight, O.B. McClinton, the Bar-Kays and the Soul Children.