Archive for the ‘Motown’ Category

The Flirtations

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

Listen: Nothing But A Heartache / The Flirtations
Nothing

This is simply the greatest Motown single that was never on Motown. Even though the UK Deram label really didn’t specialize in releases for the soul or RnB market, ‘Nothing But A Heartache’ suddenly appeared in mid ’68. Re-released a few months later, with a different B side, the record started to get play in the US, eventually peaking on the Billboard charts at #34. It was overseen by Wayne Bickerton, who had produced the lavish, for it’s day, album by UK band, World Of Oz. Their single, ‘The Muffin Man’, was almost a hit, garnering pretty solid airplay in a lot of US markets during summer ’68, for about two weeks. Literally, every local chart I’ve ever seen it on was for a two week run. I guess the checks didn’t clear and onto the payola victim scrap heap that fantastic single went.

Years later, this Flirtations track became a Northern Soul success. Northern Soul records, in simple terms, are non hit, copy versions of the Tamla/Motown sound. Many were still being recorded into the early ’70′s, after that original era had long past. The clubs in the North of England were insatiable for anything resembling it and hence the tag Northern Soul.

Proof of the song’s validity comes in the fact that, despite being a UK act and UK made record, like most of the Motown singles from the 60′s, ‘Nothing But A Heartache’ was only a hit in America.

Little Stevie Wonder

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

I CALL IT PRETTY MUSIC…BUT THE OLD PEOPLE CALL IT THE BLUES / Little Stevie Wonder:

Side 1:

Listen: I Call It Pretty Music But The Old People Call It The Blues (Part 1) /Little Stevie Wonder
I

Listen: I Call It Pretty Music But The Old People Call It The Blues (Part 2) /Little Stevie Wonder
I

Side 2:

Listen: Workout Stevie Workout / Little Stevie Wonder
Workout

Listen: Monkey Talk / Little Stevie Wonder
Monkey

When it comes to hitting puberty and it’s accompanying voice change for males, I often wish Little Stevie Wonder had never grown up to be Stevie Wonder. Michael Jackson’s keepers allegedly had the good sense to castrate the fellow in order to avoid losing that money printing vocal ability.

So when speaking of voice alone, I prefer the early days as exemplified on this EP, hand’s down.

Although ‘I Call It Pretty Music But The Old People Call It The Blues’ may be one of the best song titles ever, it pales as rather standard early Motown next to ‘Workout Stevie Workout’ and ‘Monkey Talk’.

Now these two songs have the imaginary ability to transport me outside the window ledge at 2648 West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, looking in. The songs are like a soul steam bath, possibly amongst the greatest examples of the assembly line sweat shop known to produce the Motown sound and all their wonderfully tambourine heavy swinging singles.

And then, there’s Little Stevie Wonder toiling away his publishing and performances in the middle of it all. Nowadays that might be considered a child labor offense. I never did follow the blow by blows of the label’s financial abuse accusations towards their artists, but he has stayed with the company for his entire career, so go figure.

It’s not hard to see why all those English soul nuts clamored over this initial UK EP release, with it’s aforementioned musical content and period piece primitive artwork.

The Contours

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Side 1:

Listen: Can You Jerk Like Me / The Contours
Can

Listen: That Day When She Needed Me / The Contours
That

Side 2:

Listen: Can You Do It / The Contours
Can

Listen: I’ll Stand By You / The Contours
ContoursIllStand.mp3

Looking back, The Contours probably released more dance instruction songs than anybody, with a possible exception being Chubby Checker. ‘Can You Jerk Like Me’ was one of their earliest.

They were never an act to achieve much more than lower chart success in the US, and excepting the reissue of ‘Just A Little Misunderstanding’, none in the UK. They mirror The Marvelettes in Motown’s history books. That being, there was always some other act getting the best songs from their in-house writing machines, and ultimately the push at radio.

And like The Marvelettes, for my two cents, that became a benefit. Not to take away from The Four Tops or The Temptations, clearly on the A list then, but the quick in/quick out studio policy meant The Contours’ records remained unpolished and messier in the best way.

So in Berry Gordy’s world, if The Marvelettes were to The Supremes as The Rolling Stones were to The Beatles, let’s take it a rung lower in the case of The Contours. They were to The Temptations what The Pretty Things were to The Beatles.

Hence I covet every single they ever recorded. And heavens knows, no price is too high for their only EP.

The Marvelettes

Friday, December 6th, 2013

THE MARVELETTES / The Marvelettes:

Side 1:

Listen: Too Many Fish In The Sea / The Marvelettes
Too

Listen: He’s A Good Guy (Yes He Is) / The Marvelettes
MarvelettesGoodGuy.mp3

Side 2:

Listen: You’re My Remedy / The Marvelettes
MarvelettesRemedy.mp3

Listen: Little Girl Blue / The Marvelettes
Little

If you believe all the accusations contained in the handful of detailed Motown history books on the market, The Marvelettes got the second tier of important songs coming off the in-house songwriting assembly line. The cream of the most obviously commercial works went to The Supremes. It had been deemed early on that they were the label’s female superstars, and so The Marvelettes had fewer home run hits, but in the end, came off more intellectual. One might even slot them in as Motown’s biggest cult group.

Mind you, The Supremes were great, I loved them. The world loved them. But The Marvelettes, they had the darker slant, minor key at times, thereby giving them edge, even a touch of danger.

Their patch of Smokey Robinson written and produced ’66 to ’68 singles rate amongst Motown’s highest calibre. ‘The Hunter Gets Captured By THe Game’ and ‘My Baby Must Be A Magician’ to name a few.

But this EP, with earlier songs from ’63 – ’64 and their accompanying Motown bounce, mark a time when all things were a bit more juvenile and created a bit more equal, and the first division songs went around to all.

In the end, my two cents maintains The Marvelettes were to The Supremes what The Rolling Stones were to The Beatles. And I just love that.

Yvonne Fair

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

It Should Have Been Me / Yvonne Fair

Listen: It Should Have Been Me / Yvonne Fair YvonneFairShould.mp3

Taking a page right out of the Millie Jackson handbook, Yvonne Fair ripped into Norman Whitfield’s written and produced ‘It Should Have Been Me’. Taken from the equally powerful THE BITCH IS BLACK album, how the fuck this wasn’t a hit in America is just bewildering.

Scaling to #5 in the UK, it went unheard back home and it wasn’t like she was an unknown here. Cutting her teeth as a member of The Chantels and then The James Brown Review, she joined Motown in the early 70′s. Now this song certainly deserved a serious video, still does.

Eddie Holland / The Birds

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Listen: Leaving Here / Eddie Holland
Leaving

Bizarre thing this. ‘Leaving Here’ has to be the only song from the entire Motown machine’s output with literally a chorus so weak, you might even declare it has no chorus at all.

Despite seeming like a poor man’s ‘Fingertips’, I always loved the momentum and, I guess you could say, groove of this version, but was never ever able to sing it around the house.

Listen: Leaving Here / The Birds
Leaving

Along come The Birds, and as part of the British beat boom’s stampede to cover American Motown and soul records, wisely chose to tackle ‘Leaving Here’.

In the process, the band actually write a strong chorus, something that was never needed before, certainly not at Motown, and has probably never happened since. And they don’t even try claiming part of the publishing, which they would have deserved. Chalk it up to the innocence of youth, a weak manager or both I suppose.

Vicki Wickham / Earl Van Dyke & The Soul Brothers

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Listen: The Flick (Part I) / Earl Van Dyke & The Soul Brothers
The

Listen: The Flick (Part II) / Earl Van Dyke & The Soul Brothers
The

Of Earl Van Dyke & The Soul Brothers’ six Soul/Motown single releases, ‘The Flick’ is one of the lesser known.

Sounding very much like the casual late night jam at 2648 West Grand Boulevard that it probably was, Motown’s house band, as they were, or The Funk Brothers, as they became known, got to record some instrumentals under the name Earl Van Dyke & The Soul Brothers. These guys really didn’t like the commercial records they were required to make by day, preferring jazz instead. So not surprisingly, these dabbles sound not unlike the Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff soul jazz releases from the period, and make for great jukebox ambience.

Let me tell you, there’s nothing like a late Sunday afternoon spent digging through a few hundred Motown promos. Happened yesterday, so I can attest.

This all started at the Brooklyn Bowl 60′s Music & Memorabilia Show. One dealer displayed a Motown white label, and it set me off. To be honest, I’d been waiting a few years to start filing these, Vicki Wickham’s Motown singles, into my wall shelves. It suddenly felt like that moment had arrived.

Yes, Saint Vicki. This woman has performed many miracles in my world. As if giving me her record collection several years back wasn’t miracle enough, she out of the blue rang a few days before Thanksgiving 2010, announcing another multi-box discovery in storage. About a thousand singles from her READY STEADY GO days, completely forgotten about for decades.

“Might you want them?”

I nearly had to make the trip over to hers in an ambulance.

There they were, several white boxes, all stacked, labelled and waiting for me to collect. Plus perfectly separated out, a Vicki VIP section: two boxes of Oriole/Stateside/Tamla/Motown. All organized chronologically by label, then catalog number.

Now I have tripped out on these many times, even let a few friends have a look through, well Phil and Eric, and that’s about it. Duane wasn’t interested.

Yesterday began the process of folding these into the master collection. Playing many and nearly blacking out a few times.

No drug has ever gotten me this high. Not ever. Not any.

LaBrenda Ben & The Beljeans

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Listen: The Chaperone / LaBrenda Ben & The Beljeans
The

LaBrenda Ben was an early Motown signing, releasing ‘Camel Walk’ b/w ‘The Chaperone’ in December ’62. By the end of ’63 though, with just two Gordy singles on the market, she and her group were dropped, thereby also becoming an early roster casualty. Too bad. Sure sounds like she could sing to me, even have succeeded with some Holland-Dozier-Holland or Smokey Robinson songs.

Years later, this B side gained some traction in Northern Soul clubs. The label eventually repressed ‘The Chaperone’ as an A side, this time on Motown (M 1033) as opposed to the original Gordy (G 7009). In keeping with Northern Soul’s formula of non hit Motown sounding knock-offs though, ‘The Chaperone’ more than fits the bill. Just shy of a real chorus, the metallic thumps and all the right jingle jangles were almost enough to cover for lack of one. Records like this came off the label’s conveyer belt as often as cars did down the street. All in all, ‘The Chaperone’ might have worked if only it had gotten some airplay as opposed to being relegated to the flip.

Listen: I Can’t Help It, I Gotta Dance / LaBrenda Ben
I

Cursed with a seemingly misspelled stage name, LaBrenda’s back up singers’ moniker, The Beljeans, probably didn’t help.

Looks as though that opinion wasn’t mine alone, given they were nowhere in sight on the label copy for their followup and swan song.

No idea who was making the decisions around Motown then, but legend has it Berry Gordy was a major control freak, and he clearly knew a hit. So how did ‘I Can’t Help It, I Gotta Dance’ end up as a B side? I thought lightning never struck twice.

Not only, as with ‘The Chaperone’, was ‘I Can’t Help It, I Gotta Dance’ the noticeably stronger track, the song was about The Contours. And they were on the label for God’s sake.

Jr. Walker & The All Stars

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Home Cookin' / Jr. Walker & The All Stars

JrWalkerCookinUKA, Jr. Walker & The All Stars, Motown, Stateside

Listen: Home Cookin’ / Jr. Walker & The All Stars
Home

It’s shocking how few Top 10′s Jr. Walker & The All Stars had, only two. ‘Shotgun’ went to #4 during February ’65 , then ‘What Does It Take’ again peaked at #4 in May ’69 via a noticeable about face in sound, but the switch up didn’t help in the long run. He never hit the Top 10 again.

‘Home Cookin”(#19 RnB/#42 Pop), released just prior to ‘What Does It Take’, was the last in a series of singles, starting in ’65, that were pretty much all similar in groove and tempo. Seems everyone took for granted his sound. Those releases between ‘Shotgun’ and ‘Home Cookin”, eleven to be exact, all mid charted, got a lot of play and served as an acceptable soundtrack to Motown, almost like wallpaper.

For all the championing he received in the UK, not many consistent sales followed. In fact, Jr. Walker & The All Stars never had a Top 10 there, and only two from that five year run even charted, ‘How Sweet It Is’ and a re-released ‘Road Runner’.

Well they missed out on ‘Home Cookin”.

As always, throw in a food lyric and I’m hooked. This sounds especially good in the jukebox.

The Devastating Affair

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Listen: You Don’t Know (How Hard It Is To Make It) / The Devastating Affair
You

Probably Motown had nearly the most instrumental singles, non-charting at that, out of any other major label during the early/mid 70′s. I just seem to stumble on so many, like unfinished songs issued for…..not sure why.

Possibly CTI would run neck in neck with Motown actually. Deodato got the trophy for mainstream, worldwide success there via his disco/jazz take on ‘”Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)’. Every last one of these songs a perfect soundtrack to grainy, low budget, drug cartel films shot in Harlem.

Despite being issued a few years past MFSB’s similar ‘TSOP’, it’s the flanged phasing that polishes off ‘You Don’t Know (How Hard It Is To Make It)’ perfectly, thereby making a brief return after the studio effect helped both The Status Quo’s ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’ and The Small Faces’ ‘Itchycoo Park’ become US Top 20′s during the height of psychedelia.

Rick James

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Listen: Love Gun (Edit) / Rick James
Love

Rick James may as well been a Parliament/Funkadelic alumni in my world. He had the glitzy clothes and all the horn jabs required, even if they were played a little too manically. In fact, his overtly obvious psychedelicness goes way back to bandmates during the late 60′s, including guys from Kaleidoscope , Steppenwolf, The Yellow Payges, T.I.M.E. and The Buffalo Springfield.

There was a time when ‘Love Gun’, being a strictly RnB mid-chart single (late ’79), had no place on my college radio shows, made very clear via the frostbite those other student disc jockeys who populated the stations lobby/lounge, and airwaves, sent my way. Most of them were dabbling in reggae or fumbling through the occasional jazz track, but never funk or anything really hardcore RnB. Seems it all rang very disco to those guys, which is fair enough upon a revisit of the track last night. But to get your back up over Rick James, sorry, I could never understand the unified intolerance.

The only problem I saw with spinning ‘Love Gun’ was trying to find a follow-up in the set. The Ohio Players ‘Love Rollercoaster’ worked, but only dug me deeper down the now what path. Usually rounding off the hour with it, then into the news worked best, almost like a cold shower. That way I could crank it again through the control room monitors while the news room did their five minute drill.

The Sandpebbles

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Listen: Love Power / The Sandpebbles
Love

Clocking in at just over two minutes, ‘Love Power’, like The Flirtations ‘Nothing But A Heartache’, could qualify as one of the greatest Motown tracks never to be issued by Motown.

Instead, the independently owned soul label, Calla Records out of New York, distributed by Roulette, released ‘Love Power’ in late ’66, and by the end of winter ’67, it was both an RnB and Pop hit (#14 / #22).

Nate McCalla was the guy, keeping his company active from ’65 to ’77 . Originally being both a bodyguard for and associate of Morris Levy, Roulette Records legendary owner, connects the dots to the label’s distribution setup and supposedly Nate’s execution style demise in ’80.

Calla Records was a rather unsung entity, and Nate McCalla certainly seemed to have an ear. In addition to The Sandpebbles, his roster included J.J. Jackson, Little Jerry Williams (aka Swamp Dogg), Jean Wells, The Emotions, The Fuzz, Lonnie Youngblood, The Persuaders and Betty LaVette. Not shabby.

‘Love Power’ was one of many greats written, and in this case produced, by Teddy Vann. Revived years later by Luther Vandross and made into an even bigger hit meant Teddy finally achieved a long awaited Grammy for such a powerful track.

The Sandpebbles may be little known. Still, lead vocalist Calvin White along with his two musical partners Andrea Bolden and Lonzine Wright, can always put claim to their performance on ‘Love Power’, one of soul’s best records ever.

I know, I sprang an entire week’s allowance for it, and my single still has the original price sticker to prove it.

Edwin Starr

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Listen: Ain’t It Hell Up In Harlem / Edwin Starr
EdwinStarrHellHarlem.mp3

Edwin Starr had some surprising US pop hits quite early on in his career curve. Surprising given they were precursors to Northern Soul, and usually those titles didn’t chart. That was the whole point. But ‘Agent Double-O-Soul’ (#21, ’65), ‘S.O.S. (Stop Her On Sight)’ (#48, ’66) and ’25 Miles’ (#6, ’69) all did well and even at the time, they had that magnetic something special.

By 1970, he switched up labels, leaving Ric Tic Records for Motown. Simultaneously trading in his soul stylings for the intense Vietnam protest diatribe ‘War’, he transformed a Temptations album track into a #1 chart story. But his US success was short lived.

Europe and the UK proved more loyal, and given the nature of his earlier hits, Edwin Starr relocated to England in ’73. Ironically, during ’74, he recorded a very American ‘Ain’t It Hell Up In Harlem’, main title of the HELL UP IN HARLEM film, itself an official sequel to BLACK CAESAR.

Despite a slightly cluttered arrangement, the track perfectly snapshots the sound of Blaxploitation, a near official genre, briefly prevalent at that time and very much synonymous with grainy, washed out color cinema.

Brenda Holloway / Vivian Green

Monday, June 27th, 2011

brendahollowayuka, brenda holloway, tamla, motown, vivian green

Listen: Every Little Bit Hurts / Brenda Holloway
Every Little Bit Hurts / Brenda Holloway

Listen: Every Little Bit Hurts / Vivian Green
Every Little Bit Hurts / Vivian Green

Written by Ed Cobb, ‘Every Little Bit Hurts’ is nothing like his other massive hit, The Standells’ ‘Dirty Water’. With writing credits as diverse as The Chocolate Watch Band and Gloria Jones, it’s doubly impressive.

There was an HBO program several seasons back, AMERICAN DREAMS, all about Philadelphia in the 60′s. The daughter of the family it centered around was a dancer on AMERICAN BANDSTAND, so every episode featured a current artist kitted out as someone who had appeared on the show during that time period, and doing the same song originally performed. When they wanted Vivian Green, there weren’t many cover choices left as they’d already used material from Mary Wells and Tina Turner. The 60′s were an era of girl groups, but as Vivian was a solo artist, Motown acts like The Supremes or Martha & The Vandellas weren’t options. I suggested Brenda Holloway, never expecting them to go for it, but they did.

Doing the TV show was a two day affair. Day one, Vivian went in to record her vocal at Ocean Way Studios and on day two, she was dolled up in costume (looking exactly like Brenda Holloway to a T) and mimed the newly re-recorded version on a mock AMERICAN BANSTAND stage. It was a blast.

Vivian was completely prepared, plus being the flawless vocalist that she is, laid it down in one take. Everyone’s jaw dropped. The engineer said “You’re done” and her response was “I was only warming up. You mean I can’t sing it again?” Of course they let her, but also said if she wanted to bail and go shopping, they had what they needed. The above Vivian Green version is that first take.

Brenda Holloway actually called later that day, having heard the new version, to thank Vivian for a job well done.

Marie Knight

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Listen: Cry Me A River / Marie Knight
Cry Me A River / Marie Knight

Hey thanks Vicki Wickham, for keeping this one since the 60′s. Yes, it was part of her 45 collection that I was gifted by Saint Vicki herself last fall.

You know, I love you Vicki Wickham.

Let’s talk about Vicki Wickham. We first met in ’89, when she managed Phranc during her Island days. I remember exactly where we first shook hands: backstage at the Beacon Theater, in the the very stairway where Ahmet Ertegan took his last spill. Phranc had just hired her, and was at that time on tour with The Pogues.

I was actually meeting thee Vicki Wickham. The one that booked READY! STEADY! GO!, managed Dusty Springfield, co-wrote ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ with Simon Napier-Bell, produced Labelle. The one who not only booked the infamous Saville Theatre series, brought the Motown Review to England, worked at Track Records with The Who, Thunderclap Newman, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Marsha Hunt, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, John’s Children, and yes, The Cherry Smash; but also knew Scott Walker…and Brian Jones. I was nervous and in awe. Vicki Wickham was a higher form of life.

Fast forward. Nowadays, we meet often for lunch, on 9th Ave and 44th Street at Marseilles, possibly her favorite restaurant. She always orders the asparagus omelette and eats about half. I grill her for details: RSG, The BBC during the 60′s, Rediffusion Television, Top Of The Pops not to mention every band and everybody she ever encountered. Did she visit the Immediate Records office, Deram, Philips, Fontana. What was the Ready Steady Go canteen like, did she know Tony Hall, Steve Marriott, Inez Foxx, Joe Meek, Dozy. When did she last speak with Andrew Loog Oldham, P.P. Arnold or Madeline Bell…..we cover, discuss, judge and trash tons of people. Yes, we are guilty. Needless to say, there’s never a loss for topics.

On one such occasion last year, she mentions having just found boxes of 45′s in storage, and the only one she can remember seeing in the whole bunch was the Bessie Banks ‘Go Now’ UK A label pressing. Was I interested in the lot? That’s like asking Alago, Duane, Joe and I if we’d like a free bump in the VIP bathroom at The Ritz in the 80′s. Ahh, yeah.

Vicki, you ARE a saint, and a beloved friend.

And you turned me on to Marie Knight. Praise be.

The Miracles

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

MiraclesHoldUKA, Miracles, Smokey Robinson, Tamla, Motown, Oriole, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones

Listen: You Really Got A Hold On Me / The Miracles
You Really Got A Hold On Me / The Miracles

I do think The Beatles cover version on a very early US album turned me on to ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’. Not one for The Beatles after about two minutes into The Rolling Stones ‘Not Fade Away’ in ’64, it must have been their second album at most. Long gone from my collection, I can’t verify. Never mind – it did the job.

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, as time would eventually refer to them, indeed made many great singles – it’s virtually impossible to pick a favorite. But this I remember as one of those first times in life. I still feel the exact same wonderment with every listen. It has never gone away and there are very few records I can say that about.

Barbara Randolph

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Barbara Randolf / I Got A Feeling

Listen: I Got A Feeling / Barbara Randolph BarbaraFeeling.mp3

Back in the 70′s, when Howard was still in London, we had a pretty intense record exchange thing going on. This started in the early punk days of ’76. Great records were literally coming out weekly. We’d keep each other up on the latest from the UK and US respectively. Pretty quickly, we were exchanging more than punk though.

This Barbara Randolph record was one such example. Undeservedly, a non hit when originally released by US Motown in ’67, ‘I Got A Feeling’ eventually received exposure in the 70′s via the UK Northern Soul clubs and was reissued a few times as a result. One such time, in ’79, Howard thankfully sent a copy my way. I’d not heard it until then.

On Saturday night night, Vicki Wickham contributed her original A label (above) to my wall shelf. More on her singles to come.

Barbara Randolph was actually a member of The Platters and almost replaced Florence Ballard in The Supremes but word is Diana Ross nixed that. Probably a blessing. Maybe someone from the studio heard her audition and the result was this classic.

Ty Hunter

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Listen: Bad Loser / Ty Hunter TyHunterBadLoser.mp3

With Berry Gordy’s sister Gwen, Billy Davis started Anna Records in ’59, and later the Checkmate label in ’61. Both were distributed by Chess and one of their first Anna signings were The Voice Masters, whose various members took the lead vocal, depending on the track. Ty Hunter was one, as were David Ruffin and Lamont Dozier.

That web and family tree is all tangled but in a good way. Simultameously, Ty Hunter released singles for each imprint, and had moderate RnB success.

When Gordy/Davis eventually sold the masters of both imprints to Chess, Ty Hunter continued as a solo artist for that label, and released a handful of 7′s. None were hits, but years later became in demand. He’s seldom name checked in the history of RnB/Soul but the purists among us had been well aware for years.

The one Chess release of his that eluded me until now, ‘Bad Loser’, became a jaw dropping Sunday morning rummage sale find. ’tis that season again.

Listen: Something Like A Storm / Ty Hunter TyHunterSomethingLike.mp3

Like Hi, Motown, Stax etc, each company’s entire roster seems to have played, recorded, written and produced each other. Noticing Bo Diddley co-wrote this B side, I can’t help wondering, is that him on the bv’s, did he play on it, was he there?

After Ty Hunter’s run with Chess ended, he joined The Originals in ’71. Signed to Motown, and with Marvin Gaye producing some of their intital hits, they continued to have a decent run of US RnB chart entries. Ty Hunter finally got some deserved recognition – it only took fifteen years or so.

Jackie Ross

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Listen: Selfish One / Jackie Ross JackieRossSelfishOne.mp3

Always thought, for the longest time, this was a Mary Wells or Tammi Terrell single. With it’s intentional Motown swing and sound, I vaguely recalled hearing it as a current. And despite it’s somewhat pricey Northern Soul status (a genre loosely defined as Motown soundalikes that flopped), it was actually a US #11 Billboard pop hit.

Forever, ‘Selfish One’ evaded me, until my trip a few weeks back to Detroit. I’d completely forgotten about it’s unfilled slot in my wall shelf.

Great thing about collecting records, there’s always something you need. And when you find it at 94ยข plus tax, that moment of warmth is unbeatable.

The Marvelettes

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game / The Marvelettes

Listen: The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game / The Marvelletes MarvelettesHunter.mp3

I loved The Supremes, who didn’t? But there’s something about the underdogs that make them even more appealing to me. Happens every time.

I guess The Rolling Stones (who I always preferred) were considered second to The Beatles for a while there; and then The Pretty Things to The Stones. Or as I mentioned in an earlier post, Inez & Charlie Foxx to Ike & Tina Turner.

Like Martha & The Vandellas, The Marvelettes were certainly playing second fiddle, at best, to The Supremes over at Motown. There’s a terrific book CALLING OUT AROUND THE WORLD / A MOTOWN READER by Kingsley Abbott, detailing (and I mean detailing) those heydays of Motown. It describes the songwriting rivalries, struggles for priorities, everything. It’s a fascinating read. According to Kingsley, William Robinson, or Smokey as we know him, was always under appreciated by Berry Gordy. Even when coming off of a hit, Smokey’d be starting over. Marvin Gaye too. The girl groups were in a constant struggle to get first dibs on the strongest new songs. It’s why Mary Wells left the fold – well at least according to this book.

In the case of The Marvelettes, there were few occasions when they got those gems. Like ‘The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game’ (another Smokey composition), many of The Marvelettes releases had a slight darkness to them – not quite as glistening with all the pop flash that those Supremes singles packed, hence their cult appeal? Probably.

I'll Keep Holding On / The Marvelettes

Listen: I’ll Keep Holding On / The Marvelletes MarvelettesHoldingOn.mp3

Let’s face it – The Marvelettes were hip. Hats off to The Action for the brave and triumphant cover of ‘I’ll Keep Holding On’

My Baby Must Be A Magician / The Marvelettes

My Baby Must Be A Magician / The Marvelettes - UK

Listen: My Baby Must Be A Magician / The Marvelettes MarvelettesMagician.mp3

And thank you to Tony King for generously giving me the UK promocopy of ‘My Baby Must Be A Magician’ pictured above.