Archive for the ‘Martha & The Vandellas’ Category

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.

Sugar Pie DeSanto

Saturday, November 6th, 2010


Listen: Slip-In Mules / Sugar Pie De Santo SugarPieSlipIn.mp3

I was so taken by her name from the very first time I saw it: Sugar Pie De Santo. You see I’m a pushover when it comes to cakes, pies, basically anything from bakeries. And there are none quite like the ones in mainland Europe. I first travelled there in ’87 with X and 10,000 Maniacs and had just become an unbearable militant vegetarian, basically making all my friends uneasy whenever they ate any meat. At least I had Natalie and Exene, both vegetarians, on my side for the trip, but still, not very nice I realize now. Those bakeries were safe neutral ground for us all. The places were so good, especially the ones in Holland and Switzerland. Oh and Denmark too. I still think about them.

There was a great record store just down from The Paradiso in Amsterdam, where both bands were playing. The window was jammed with Checker/Chess records and we were just staring at all the great sleeves. It was late and the place was closed. There were at least two from Sugar Pie De Santo. And next door was a Bakery & Sweet Shoppe. It must have been there for decades. Ever since, I’ve associated her with bakeries, good ones too.

I attended the Rhythm & Blues Foundation Awards show in Philadelphia September ’08, Vivian Green was singing with Chaka Kahn. It was heaven on earth for rubbing shoulders with legends: Bill Withers, The Dixie Cups, Mable John, Aretha Franklin, The Marvelettes, Earl Van Dyke, The Soul Brothers, Martha & The Vandellas, so many, they were all there.

I had no idea until arriving that Sugar Pie De Santo was being inducted. Plus she even performed and no one was ready. She owned the place, wow, what a fireball and a voice to stop most others in their tracks. I’m inclined to say she stole the show, but Bill Withers doing ‘Grandma’s Hands’ was pretty fierce too. ‘Slip-In Mules’ has always been my favorite single by her, although I have many. Her phrasing of toes into toesies is classic.

Worth getting immediately: SUGAR PIE DE SANTO / GO GO POWER: THE COMPLETE CHESS SINGLES 1961 – 1966 (Ace CD 317). It’s all her Chess A & B sides, including this one. Pretty much a must-have.

Marvin Gaye

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

MarvinStubborn, Marvin Gaye, Oriole, Tamla, Motown

Listen: Stubborn Kind Of Fellow / Marvin Gaye MarvinStubborn.mp3

Neck to neck, it’s a real tossup which guy epitomizes the early 60′s mod / soul sound: Smokey Robinson or Marvin Gaye. Funny enough, it’s as strong a debate as you might expect around The Beatles / The Rolling Stones challenge. At least at some of the pubs in North London, where the Tamla guys seem to be fixtures on a Sunday afternoon. I’d never thought about it actually. My barometer was always tuned to what The Rolling Stones were covering, so I’d lean towards Marvin.

Not sure why ‘Stubborn Kind Of Fellow’ never seems to show up on comp cd’s or anthologies, not any that I have, given it was his debut UK single and all. Besides, is there any other Motown based release that credits The Vandellas on the label?

MarvinWitness, Marvin Gaye, Oriole, Tamla, Motown

Listen: Can I Get A Witness / Marvin Gaye MarvinWitness.mp3

This original paced version took some getting used to on first listen way back when. I knew the faster ‘Can I Get A Witness’ from ENGLAND’S NEWEST HIT MAKERS. Don’t shoot me, I was far from the only kid in America that got my soul music from the UK bands instead of pop radio, early on that is. Now that faster Rolling Stones take just feels wrong, but hats off to them for introducing American middle class kids to their own culture.

It’s pretty dramatic the difference between early and later Marvin Gaye. Even more than Stevie Wonder, but way less than say, Underworld. I think they take the cake. Check out that first album.

As with both singles above, these mono vinyl pressings possess a sound absolutely no other format can enhance or replace.

Martha & The Vandellas

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

MarthaVandellasDancingUS, Martha & The Vandellas, Martha Reeves & The Vandells, Stateside, Gordy, Marvin Gaye

MarthaVandellasDancingUKA, Martha & The Vandellas, Martha Reeves & The Vandells, Stateside, Gordy, Marvin Gaye

MarthaDancingUKA2, Martha & The Vandellas, Martha Reeves & The Vandells, Stateside, Gordy, Marvin Gaye

Listen: Dancing In The Streets / Martha & The Vandellas MarthaVandellasDancingStreet.mp3

What in the world is a Vandella? I’ve always wanted to know.

Okay, so why the hell am I posting this record? Because these labels look so beautiful, and there’s NOTHING like this track in mono, exactly the way God meant it to be.

Freddy Cannon / Where The Action Is

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

freddycannonaction, Freddy Cannon, Where The Action Is, Dick Clark, American Bandstand

Listen: Where The Action Is / Freddy Cannon FreddyCannonAction.mp3

Let’s face it. The theme song to ABC’s syndicated daily pop show, WHERE THE ACTION IS, titled ‘Action’ by Freddy Cannon, was so good, even The Ramones could have covered it.

I lived for WHERE THE ACTION IS and saw many a great act each day after school. Our local Syracuse affiliate, WSYR-TV, was wishy-washy, and many times pre-empted it with other things. Looking over the complete, chronological list of episodes and guests, I’ve only just discovered missing Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours, The Action and Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich for just that reason. Indeed, I’m a bit crushed having now discovered these atrocities. Scumbags.

But seeing an LA centric act almost daily, given they were basically down the street from the studios, must have been daily bliss. To name a few: The Guillteens, The Ikettes with and without Ike & Tina Turner, The Vejtables, The Leaves, The Seeds, Gary & The Hornets, Love, Dino Desi & Billy, The Buffalo Springfield, Jan & Dean.

Not to mention the RnB stuff: Martha & The Vandellas, Doris Troy, The Royalettes, Mary Wells, Brenda Holloway, The Toys, Maxine Brown, Kim Weston, Carla Thomas, Billy Stewart, Bobby Hebb, Alvin Cash & The Crawlers or Felice Taylor. I still replay The Vibrations doing ‘My Girl Sloopy’ vividly in my memory.

Then there were the black and white segments from England, a real high for we Anglophiles: The Small Faces, Gary Farr & The T-Bones, Them, The Mindbenders, The Zombies, The Moody Blues, The Kinks, Unit 4 + 2, The Who, Wayne Fontana, Marianne Faithfull, The Yardbirds and The Cryin’ Shames.