Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Sat Oct 26, 2019 1:27 pm

Song #142 is "Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)" from Stevie Wonder in 1972. This was on the Music of My Mind" album. The song reached a peak of #33 on the Billboard Pop charts and #13 on their Soul chart. "Superwoman" chronicles the relationship Stevie had with his first wife, Syreeta Wright, a Motown singer and composer who entered the company as a secretary. The lyric "trying to boss the bull around" references the woman trying to control Stevie who is a Taurus.

Besides Steve himself, The only other musician who plays on the track is Buzz Feiten on guitar. Stevie is on lead vocal, background vocals, Rhodes piano, drums, Moog bass, T.O.N.T.O. and synthesizer.


Image


Next on countdown is song #141 where two of the label's biggest acts get together. It's the first of 19 songs on the countdown for one of them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r28-9kh4bhA

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Sat Oct 26, 2019 5:02 pm

At #141 we heard "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" by the Supremes and Temptations together. This was released in 1968 and reached #2 on both the Soul and Pop charts on Billboard. It got to #1 Pop on both Cash Box and Record World. I was 11 years old then, loved it now and still do. The song was written by Kenny Gamble and Jerry Ross, it was originally a top 20 R&B hit for Dee Dee Warwick in 1966 (#88 Pop). Madeline Bell's version peaked at #26 on the Hot 100 on 23 March 1968. Here;'s the original version by Dionne's sister, Dee Dee Warwick.


The Motown track was produced by Frank Wilson along with Nick Ashford who had sung background on Dee Dee Warwick's track and the other versions produced by Jerry Ross. Diana Ross and Eddie Kendricks shared lead vocals, although Otis Williams worked with Ross during a spoken interlude which was original to this version of the song.

Ross & the Supremes and the Temptations performed several of the songs from their joint album on their headlining TCB television special which aired in December 1968 and it was originally planned that their rendition of "The Impossible Dream", the special's climactic performance, be their joint album's lead single. However radio stations began playing the "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" track off their advance copies of Diana Ross & the Supremes Join The Temptations compelling Motown to make "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" the single release even though it was not performed on TCB. Indeed, the Ross/Supremes & Temptations version was never to be performed live (the Temptations did perform "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" on The Ed Sullivan Show, Diana Ross and The Supremes performed the song which was recorded during their farewell performance in Las Vegas in 1970 and Diana Ross performed the song on The Hollywood Palace as a duet with Stevie Wonder).


Image


Song #140 is next. All I can say is, get ready for an explosion!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flvZTCvUVVo
Last edited by Hymie on Sun Oct 27, 2019 1:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Sat Oct 26, 2019 11:57 pm

Song #140 is "Quicksand" from Martha and the Vandellas in 1963. This was the followup to "Heat Wave," which could be coming later in the countdown, one never knows.

From Wikipedia:

It was built around a similar gospel-inspired delivery of their previous release, their breakout hit, "(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave", but with a slightly slower tempo and a harder edge. Like "Heat Wave", it features an analogy to a natural phenomenon, with the narrator comparing falling in love to sinking in quicksand. Released in November 1963 on the Gordy label, the song became another Top Ten hit for Martha & the Vandellas, eventually reaching number eight on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the third hit on which the group collaborated with the famed Holland–Dozier–Holland team, who would go on to record hits with the likes of Vandellas' contemporaries, The Supremes and the Four Tops.

Personnel
Lead vocals by Martha Reeves
Background vocals by Rosalind Ashford and Annette Beard
Benny Benjamin: drums
James Jamerson: bass guitar
Robert White: guitar
Eddie Willis: guitar
Jack Ashford: tambourine, vibes
Andrew "Mike" Terry: baritone saxophone solo

Let's see what our MOTOWN JUNKIES buddy thought of this one:

Martha & the Vandellas: “Quicksand”
Gordy G 7025 (A), November 1963


How do you follow up a massive hit single? If you worked for Motown, you’d answer without hesitation: “Why, with a record that sounds almost exactly the same, of course!” And so Quicksand has gone down in history as an exercise in the art of the commercial retread; the Motown house band, the Funk Brothers, were so amused they referred to this song as “Son of Heat Wave.“

Indeed, when discussing Quicksand, that’s pretty much all anyone ever talks about. Ooh, it sounds like Heat Wave, only not as good. Well, yes, it does, but not as much as people have made out. Also, nobody ever seems to mention the Supremes’ barrelling Spector pastiche When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes, to which this is also rather similar, and which holds the true key to explaining what’s going on here.

The Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team – who’d crafted Heat Wave back in the spring of ’63 – had moved on to a new thing, where aping Phil Spector and his writing partners was the name of the game. The result was a glut of Motown “Wall of Soundalikes” in the fall and winter of 1963, as HDH first tried out their Spector impersonations, then perfected them, then improved upon them, and finally left them behind in search of new ideas. Meanwhile, the time for a follow-up to Heat Wave was fast approaching. HDH, tasked – as per Motown policy – with following up their own hit, combined a bit of what they’d previously done for Martha and the Vandellas with a bit of what they were currently doing for the Supremes, the Darnells etc., and this was the result.

In Britain, Stateside Records featured this as one of the four selections on the multi-artist 'R&B Chartmakers No.3' EP.It’s easy to forget that for all their meteoric rise and imperious success during 1963, this was only Martha and the Vandellas’ fourth single. That it’s the first Vandellas record not to be better than its predecessor is just an unfortunate quirk of history; anyone would have struggled to follow Heat Wave. In fact, despite its cribbing from earlier and better records, Quicksand is still a very fine pop/R&B stomper in its own right, and its relentless pounding – emphasised by some brilliant thudding drum breaks and a growling, ominous bass loop running throughout the song, both new to the mix – gives it a different feel to Heat Wave, the differences between the two songs becoming more and more pronounced with each subsequent listen.

I’m not suggesting it doesn’t still sound an awful lot like Heat Wave, just that this is a subtly different record to its predecessor. And it’s a good one, too; it’s just not as good as Heat Wave, but that’s hardly a crime.

People don’t seem to love it, though, perhaps because it’s still too close to an obviously better record everyone had already bought. It’s almost identical in structure to the earlier hit, opening with the best part of a verse and chorus before Martha even appears (though this time the other Vandellas are there at the start, cooing attractively), whilst riding the band’s creativity through the whole record, most noticeably the freewheeling sax riffs lifted almost verbatim from Heat Wave. At first blush, the lyrics, too, smack of a hasty rewrite: instead of love being like a heat wave, it’s now like quicksand; instead of blowing you away, it’s sucking you in.

Now, on closer examination, that’s an important change of metaphors, a passive, sapping force of attraction in place of an explosive, violent rush. Perhaps that change pervades the song, too; certainly Martha isn’t as good here as she usually is, flatter and less impassioned than on previous outings, apparently resigned to her fate rather than fighting or celebrating it. (When she actually sings The more I fight it, the deeper in love I get, the song’s opening line, it doesn’t sound as though she’s fighting particularly hard.)

The rest of the lyrics are an oddly depressing experience, too, a thousand miles away from the joyous rush of Heat Wave (Each time you hold me, I feel nothing but emptiness… It’s not safe loving you this way… My heart is a prisoner of your warm embrace… You’re like quicksand, sinking me deeper, deeper in love with you…) Martha’s delivery isn’t yet coming from the same heartbreaking lovelorn place that she’ll show later in the Sixties on some of the Vandellas’ masterpieces of love gone wrong, and so it comes as something of a surprise to note that this is a song of resigned melancholy rather than euphoric celebration, and thus not really the same thing as Heat Wave at all. Certainly it’s a far more specific, far less universal sentiment being expressed, although it didn’t seem to harm it in the charts (number 8 on both the pop and R&B lists).

The music, though, is full of energy, and can’t help but grab your attention (especially when, in a most unexpected move, everything suddenly drops away leaving just the drums to pound away for four bars), and the rollicking horns imported from When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes keep everything moving along in intoxicating fashion. If dancefloors were looking for another Heat Wave, this would have fit the bill perfectly.

Ultimately, I’m put in mind of Mary Wells’ Two Lovers, wondering what I’d make of this if I hadn’t heard its more famous predecessor. Would I have been as intoxicated by this as I was when Martha struck up by singing Whenever I’m with him, something inside / Starts to burning, and I’m filled with desire / Could it be / A devil in me / or is this the way love’s supposed to be?

In this case, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t. This just isn’t as good a record as Heat Wave; different enough to justify its own existence, it’s both a perfectly adequate sequel and a fun little Vandellas single in its own right, but they’d come down from a whole other plane in order to make it.

MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
7/10


Image


Song #139 is up now. It was first released on a fabulous album in 1965:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSosQRiXiPw

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Sun Oct 27, 2019 4:26 am

Song #139 is "(I'm A" Road Runner) by Jr. Walker and the All-Stars, from 1965. This was a hit single in 1966, but it came out first on the "Shotgun" album in 1965. I am surprised that this album is not better known. It has like 7 songs on it that became hit singles eventually.

Image


The song was written by Holland-Dozier-Holland. Walker plays the distinctive tenor saxophone solo, backed by Mike Terry on baritone saxophone with Willie Woods on guitar. During production of the record, it was discovered that Walker could play the song only in two keys. So Walker sang in a key that he couldn’t play, and after being recorded, the saxophone track was sped up to match.

In later years Steve Winwood's song "Roll With It" seemed to sound an awful lot like "I'm A) Road Runner."


Image


Song #138 is next, and we go back to 1962 for this one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAWKR0GqJ24

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Sun Oct 27, 2019 1:42 pm

We heard "Paradise" by the Temptations which checked in at #138 on the countdown. This was an early single by them, and it was a minor hit, bubbling under the Billboard Hot 100 at #122 for one week in December, 1962. Temptations' falsetto Eddie Kendricks sings the main lead vocal on the song, the group's bass singer, Melvin Franklin, also has a few lead parts on the intro, the bridge and on the outro. Kendricks narrates how he hopes his former love would come back to him as it would be as if he was in paradise if she does.

Let's see what MOTOWN JUNKIES had to say:

The Temptations: “Paradise”
Gordy G 7010 (A), October 1962


The Temptations’ first official release since the magnificent (You’re My) Dream Come True seven months previously, this might have come too late to capitalise on that record’s minor chart placing.

Indeed, of the Temptations’ early, pre-stardom records, for my money this is the one which least stands up to repeated listening nowadays. Which isn’t to say it’s awful, or anything, but… Well, it sounds like a case of one step forward, two steps back. Allow me to explain.

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, a group of clean-cut white doo-woppers led by a helium-voiced falsetto, had been busy racking up the hits for Vee-Jay in 1962, having hit chart gold first time out with Sherry that summer. Berry Gordy, never slow to latch on to a popular trend, had no similar bunch of white doo-woppers on his books (the Valadiers had all but split up by this point, and in any case they didn’t have a falsetto to match Frankie Valli), but he did have the Temptations, who’d picked up an R&B chart hit with their last release – and the Tempts had Eddie Kendricks, a handsome, sweet-faced falsetto, albeit a bit rough and untutored at this point, who’d sung lead on that chart hit.

And so it came to pass that, rather than continue down the path of experimental harmonies and general R&B boundary-pushing that had produced (You’re My) Dream Come True and its even more outlandish predecessor Check Yourself, the Temptations were pushed back into a more familiar, less challenging doo-wop setting and aimed firmly towards the pop charts. Berry Gordy himself – who’d written and produced both those previous Tempts cuts – did the same here, hustling the group into the studio to record his own pastiche of Sherry.

The result? A number 122 pop hit, and a reasonably faithful, largely-unimpressive Four Seasons tribute record, which is to say a pretty much complete waste of the Temptations.

Eddie Kendricks had turned in a superb lead vocal on (You’re My) Dream Come True, but that was very much an exception to the rule – that one shining example aside, Eddie’s early performances had been uniformly disappointing, his raw, undisciplined squeal threatening to ruin every single side he’d been involved with. Have a listen to the Temptations’ début single Oh Mother Of Mine, for example, and its horrendous B-side Romance Without Finance, where he takes the lead jointly with Paul Williams, Eddie’s ear-splitting squawks almost overwhelming Paul’s more restrained performance; or perhaps Mind Over Matter, the record Motown had released just the previous week under the name “the Pirates”, where he again goes too loud and too high for both his bandmates and the backing track.

He’s on similar form here, probably not helped by the presumably explicit instructions to ape Frankie Valli’s rooftop-skimming high notes. The appeal of Frankie Valli doing that particular falsetto schtick was his style; it wasn’t just a question of being able to hit ludicrously high notes, but also a nasal, whiny delivery that helped him both enunciate his lyrics and harmonise with much lower backing vocals (a delivery which Valli is still doing at the time of writing, if the live performance videos on Youtube are anything to go by, despite being in his mid-seventies) and an innate ability to stay in tune (and in key!) whilst wheeling around the upper end of the vocal spectrum. Eddie Kendricks would go on to be one of the all-time great R&B voices, but those are tools that he simply didn’t have – and his problem in 1962 was that he was pushing too hard, aiming for the top of his register too often and with too little regard for the needs of the tune. An instruction to try and copy Frankie Valli was probably the least helpful advice Eddie could have received.

The Temptations' début album, 1964's 'Meet The Temptations', which anthologised pretty much all their Motown material from 1961 to 1964, including this record.Whatever the reason, the results are really not a lot of fun to hear; it starts off tolerably with Eddie harmonising wordlessly with the other Tempts (Melvin Franklin’s anchoring bass is again a joy), until the lyrics begin at the 25-second mark; from then on in, he’s on his own, paying no attention to either the band or the rest of the group. He misses his mark at the start of literally every verse, and the rest of his performance is difficult to listen to; there’s a good bit in the middle when he dials it down a little and gets back into harmony with the others – the Don’t wanna wake up, don’t wanna wake up group refrain at 1:25 – which briefly raises hopes, but it’s over all too soon, and then we’re back to the substandard Frankie Valli impersonation.

It’s a step forward in the sense that it sounds easily the equal of the Frankie Valli record, Eddie notwithstanding – the rest of the Temptations sound vastly better than the Four Seasons, and when Eddie’s just harmonising with the group, the mix is beguiling; meanwhile, the band are on fine form, and the whole thing is a very professionally-packaged record. Two steps back, because (a) Eddie’s lead performance is awful, and shouldn’t really have been encouraged, and (b) this wouldn’t be regarded as a one-off misfire, meaning the Temptations would waste a lot of time over the next year and a half being pushed down the packaged pop act road, releasing two underwhelming singles, I Want A Love I Can See and Farewell My Love, neither of which made any impression whatsoever on the charts. The group wouldn’t be treated to any high-quality new material that played to their unique strengths until Smokey Robinson took them firmly in hand in 1964.

This record seems to be much-beloved by Temptations fans, but I’m stumped if I can work out why. Easily the weakest of the various singles the Temptations had released thus far, this is ironically nowhere near as good as the group’s quickly-recorded “Pirates” novelty cash-in 45 from the previous week, Mind Over Matter (and certainly not up to the standard of its lovely B-side I’ll Love You Till I Die); even if Eddie had been note-perfect, this would have been a slight, enjoyable but largely forgettable doo-wop number. It’s still harmless enough fun, but scarcely more than that – and that yowling lead vocal knocks this down to a below par effort from the Tempts in my book. I do look forward to the disagreements.

MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
4/10


=========================================================================================================

Needless to say, our voters disagreed with that 4/10 rating.


Image


RANK-BALLOTS-POINTS-TITLE-ARTIST
138 - 03-135 - Paradise - Temptations
139 - 05-134 - (I'm A) Road Runner - Jr. Walker & The All-Stars
140 - 05-131 - Quicksand - Martha & The Vandellas
141 - 03-131 - I'm Gonna Make You Love Me - Supremes and Temptations
142 - 03-131 - Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You) - Stevie Wonder
143 - 02-130 - You’re My Desire – Equadors
144 - 02-128 - Walk Away From Love - David Ruffin
145 - 02-125 - A Favor For a Girl - Brenda Holloway
146 - 03-124 - I'll Turn To Stone - Four Tops
147 - 03-124 - Hello - Lionel Richie
148 - 04-123 - Too Busy Thinking About My Baby - Marvin Gaye
149 - 03-123 - Would I Love You - Miracles
150 - 04-119 - Seven Rooms of Gloom - Four Tops
151 - 03-117 - A Fork In The Road - Miracles
152 - 05-115 - You Are the Sunshine of My Life - Stevie Wonder
153 - 04-115 - I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever) - Stevie Wonder
154 - 03-114 - Reflections - Supremes
155 - 02-114 - Square Biz - Teena Marie
156 - 04-113 - Two Lovers - Mary Wells
157 - 03-111 - The Only One I Love - Miracles
===========================================================================


Song #137 is next, it's from 1966.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9MQJdNCZ2c

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Sun Oct 27, 2019 6:53 pm

Song #137 is "The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game" by the Marvelettes from 1966. The song was written by Smokey Robinson. I have it as 1966, but it's right on the borderline of 1966 and 1967. The Marvelettes single peaked in the United States in spring 1967 at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart and at number two on the Billboard soul chart. The group's version of the song was produced by Smokey Robinson. The song is written in the first person, from the point of view of someone who has "laid such a tender trap" to catch a lover. Lead singer Wanda Young-Rogers (wife of Miracles member Bobby Rogers) talks about how she had been stalking her lover, having to learn his "ways and habits" so she could plan how to catch him. But "certain things rearrange" and she finds herself caught, presumably, in love with her 'game.'

There seems to be 3 variations issued. The original mono single ended cold, yet some (not all) of the stereo remixes fade at the end. There is also a different last verse on some of the reissues, leading to the assumption that Smokey recorded the song much longer than any of the issued versions. Additionally, the single version and at least one of the stereo mixes exclude the first part of the second verse.

Billboard named the song #71 on their list of 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time.


Image


Song #136 is up now. It's one of many number one Pop Chart hits by this act.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcylDkRw7dg

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Sun Oct 27, 2019 11:03 pm

Song #136 is "I Hear A Symphony" from the Supremes in 1965. Written and produced by Motown's main production team, Holland–Dozier–Holland, the song became their sixth number-one pop hit on Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart in the United States for two weeks from November 14, 1965 through November 27, 1965. On the UK pop chart, the single peaked at number thirty-nine. The background string arrangement can be attributed to the great arranger Belford Hendricks who also wrote arrangements for hit songs recorded by Mary Wells, Teddy Pendergrass, James Brown, The Four Tops, Jackie Wilson and many other stars.

In mid-1965, the producers came to realize they had fallen into a rut when the Supremes' "Nothing but Heartaches" failed to make it to the Top Ten, missing it by just one position and breaking the string of number-one Supremes hits initiated with "Where Did Our Love Go." Motown chief Berry Gordy was displeased with the performance of "Nothing but Heartaches," and circulated a memo around the Motown offices that read as follows:

“We will release nothing less than Top Ten product on any artist; and because the Supremes' world-wide acceptance is greater than the other artists, on them we will only release number-one records.”

Holland-Dozier-Holland therefore set about breaking their formula and trying something new. The result was "I Hear a Symphony," a song with a more complex musical structure than previous Supremes releases. "Symphony" was released as a single in place of another Holland-Dozier-Holland Supremes song, "Mother Dear", which had been recorded in the same style as their earlier hits. In a 1968 interview,Diana Ross said that this was one of her favorite songs to perform, even though its key register posed some challenges.

The MOTOWN JUNKIES guy gives this record 10/10 and names it as his favorite Supremes record. Here's a link to the full review:

https://motownjunkies.co.uk/2013/10/02/642/


Image


Song #135 is next, and it will be the first time that we are hearing from this act.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJe3Ifg_rjg

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Mon Oct 28, 2019 4:25 am

We just heard song #135, "Friendship Train" from Gladys Knight & The Pips in 1969. The record reached #2 on the Billboard Soul chart, and peaked at #17 on the Hot 100 Pop chart. The song was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. Four of our voters has the song on their ballots. By the way, I don't think I mentioned yet that there were 44 ballots in all.


Image


Song #134 is next, and it's from 1964:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhTdywZN9T8

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Mon Oct 28, 2019 1:09 pm

Song #134 is "You're A Wonderful One" by Marvin Gaye, from 1964. The song was written by written by Holland–Dozier–Holland. The single reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop chart. Billboard did not have an R&B chart then, but the song peaked at #3 during a 16 week run on the Cash Box R&B chart.

In the song, the narrator praises his "wonderful one" for loving him and for "always (being) around" him. Gaye is helped along on this song by The Supremes on background. The group had earlier backed him on "Can I Get a Witness". Musically, The Funk Brothers took elements of Chuck Berry's "Memphis" single and incorporated it into the intro of this song. It was produced by Holland–Dozier–Holland, who worked with Gaye on "Witness" and later "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" by Gaye a few months later giving him his biggest success as a solo artist until "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" in 1968.

Here's the MOTOWN JUNKIES review.

Marvin Gaye: “You’re A Wonderful One”
Tamla T 54093 (A), February 1964


Marvin Gaye had made a breakthrough into Top Ten territory with his last single, the rollicking Can I Get A Witness, and so – as was becoming standard Motown operating procedure – that song’s creators, the hotshot Holland-Dozier-Holland writing and producing unit, were tasked with crafting a soundalike follow-up.

They carry out their task with diligence alright, though it helps that they’re armed with the Funk Brothers, who were getting better and better by the day; a twanging guitar riff replaces the stabbing piano licks from the earlier hit, but otherwise we get the same barrelling pseudo-gospel attack, the same turbocharged, passionate delivery. That applies to both band and vocals, of course. But Marvin could knock these out in his sleep and make them sound good; when he really dedicates himself to his work, as he does here, it’s never less than riveting.

(Never mind the source of his inspiration to stick to an assigned job – in this instance, the prospect of a grisly MOR standards LP looming on the horizon – just enjoy the results.)

In many ways, this is to Can I Get A Witness as Martha and the Vandellas’ Live Wire (not Quicksand) is to Heat Wave: similar in sound to its more famous wellspring (though noticeably more aggressive, more driving) but markedly different in tone. Here, despite the belting backing track, the subject matter’s lighter, more straightforward than the restless, desperate pleading of Can I Get A Witness. The earnest search for approval is replaced by the simpler notion of a song of praise, reflecting the (increasingly distant) gospel roots of the backing – sure, it’s praise for a beloved companion rather than the Almighty, but it’s a song of deeply felt devotion nonetheless.

Marvin's fifth (!) studio album, and seventh overall, 'How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You' (1965), which featured this song.And it is deeply felt, too – “You’re really more than I deserve / From my heart, I speak these words”, he pledges, and we’re left in no doubt that he means it. When Marvin’s on this form, he could sell you London Bridge, so a bit of heartfelt loving seems to come almost as second nature. In his quasi-autobiography Divided Soul, Gaye confided he had his then-wife Anna in mind when he gave this delivery, one of his best from this early period; regardless of what we know happened later in that turbulent relationship, somehow knowing Marvin was thinking of someone in particular rather than a generic songwriter’s cipher to be his “wonderful one” makes everything that much more resonant.

Much, much more than the derivative sum of its musical parts, pretty much entirely thanks to the band and to Marvin himself, now every bit the superstar. Very nearly a classic in its own right, this remains excellent fun, immensely playable and endlessly listenable stuff from Motown’s best male vocalist.

MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
8/10


I think he got this one right with an 8. Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while!

Image


RANK-BALLOTS-POINTS-TITLE-ARTIST
134 - 05-139 - You're A Wonderful One - Marvin Gaye
135 - 04-139 - Friendship Train - Gladys Knight & Pips
136 - 04-136 - I Hear A Symphony - Supremes
137 - 03-136 - The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game - Marvelettes
138 - 03-135 - Paradise - Temptations
139 - 05-134 - (I'm A) Road Runner - Jr. Walker & The All-Stars
140 - 05-131 - Quicksand - Martha & The Vandellas
141 - 03-131 - I'm Gonna Make You Love Me - Supremes and Temptations
142 - 03-131 - Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You) - Stevie Wonder
143 - 02-130 - You’re My Desire – Equadors
144 - 02-128 - Walk Away From Love - David Ruffin
145 - 02-125 - A Favor For a Girl - Brenda Holloway
146 - 03-124 - I'll Turn To Stone - Four Tops
147 - 03-124 - Hello - Lionel Richie
148 - 04-123 - Too Busy Thinking About My Baby - Marvin Gaye
149 - 03-123 - Would I Love You - Miracles
150 - 04-119 - Seven Rooms of Gloom - Four Tops
151 - 03-117 - A Fork In The Road - Miracles
152 - 05-115 - You Are the Sunshine of My Life - Stevie Wonder
153 - 04-115 - I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever) - Stevie Wonder
154 - 03-114 - Reflections - Supremes
155 - 02-114 - Square Biz - Teena Marie
156 - 04-113 - Two Lovers - Mary Wells
157 - 03-111 - The Only One I Love - Miracles
=============================================================================================


Song #133 is next. I know someone who says that she likes records that start with percussion, but I don't think she likes this one much.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44F34jc7wGI

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Mon Oct 28, 2019 6:25 pm

Song #133 is "Master Blaster (Jammin')" by Stevie Wonder from 1980. It was on the "Hotter Than July" album. The single was number one for seven weeks on the Billboard Black chart, and peaked at #5 Pop. The song, built on a heavy reggae feel, is an ode to reggae legend Bob Marley; Wonder had been performing live with Marley (billing him as an opening act) on his US tour in the fall of that year. Lyrics mention "children of Jah", "Marley's Hot on the box" and the end of the civil war in Zimbabwe.

Personnel
Stevie Wonder - Vocals, Fender Rhodes, Clavinet, Organ, Background Vocals
Nathan Watts - Bass, Background Vocals
Benjamin Bridges - Guitar, Background Vocals
Dennis Davis - Drums
Earl DeRouen - Percussion, Background Vocals
Isaiah Sanders - Background Vocals, Pianet, Organ
Hank Redd – Saxophone
Larry Gittens – Trumpet
Rick Zunigar - Guitar
Background Vocals - Angela Winbush, Alexandra Brown Evans, Shirley Brewer, Marva Holcolm


Image


Song #132 is next. We have already heard 3 Miracles B side ballads. This time we have a great B side ballad from another act.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mxSdyWoUOQ

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Mon Oct 28, 2019 11:03 pm

Song #132 is "You'll Lose A Precious Love" by the Temptations, from 1966. This was the B side of "Ain't Too Proud To Beg," and in some markets it was the bigger side on black radio at the time, although it failed to chart nationally. The song was written by Smokey Robinson and is included on the album "The Temptations Sing Smokey." It was listed on 4 ballots, including mine. David Ruffin sings the lead, with Melvin Franklin getting one line during the bridge.


Image


Song #131 is up now, from 1962:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ksh4pQlW1o

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:43 am

Song #131 is "Playboy" by the Marvelettes, from 1962. The song was written by song composed by Brian Holland, Robert Bateman, Mickey Stevenson and Gladys Horton, who is the lead singer on the record. Horton is helped out in the song by her Marvelettes cohorts Wanda Young, Georgeanna Tillman, Katherine Anderson & Juanita Cowart. The record reached #7 Pop and #4 R&B.

Let's see what my MOTOWN JUNKIES buddy had to say about this one.

The Marvelettes: “Playboy”
Tamla T 54060 (A), April 1962


A third single for the Marvelettes, Motown’s first successful girl group (and first great group), after their magnificent #1 smash début Please Mr Postman and its rather less magnificent #34 non-smash follow-up Twistin’ Postman.

In the wake of their massive début, the Marvelettes had managed to rush out not one but two LPs, Please Mr Postman and Smash Hits of 1962 (later reissued as The Marveletts (sic) Sing), in the process becoming the first Motown act to release two albums for the company. However, this – an old recording from the previous November, but one which hadn’t featured on either LP – is the first thing they’d done since Please Mr Postman which actually sounded like a genuine follow-up.

It had only been eight months since their début, but perhaps that bottled-lightning success coming right at the start of the young group’s career was a curse as well as a blessing; not only had the Marvelettes failed to match it, they’d seemingly failed to develop at all, sitting still musically while their labelmates developed, churning out two albums’ worth of filler – the first LP full of underfunded, weedy-sounding, Ondioline-heavy covers of already-released Motown flops, the second an exercise in unimpressive standard issue girl group water-treading – while the bar was quietly raised around them.

So good was the competition at Motown, and so intense the pressure to keep up, that the Marvelettes were acutely in danger of being left behind, a commercial disappointment and an artistic irrelevance, and all only eight months after being on top of the world. This is the first sign of recovery; it’s not fantastic, but it’s the first Marvelettes song since their début single which gives any hint of the group’s potential, the first one that gives the listener a reason to keep the faith with this shrill, raucous group of suburban high-schoolers.

Whereas the mildly enjoyable but wafer-thin Twistin’ Postman had borne almost no similarity to its predecessor other than in the lyrics department, this one is a definite follow-up to Please Mr Postman; if Motown hadn’t been in such a rush to get two subpar Marvelettes long-players into the stores, this could easily have come from the same sessions as its illustrious ancestor. Put simply, it sounds like Please Mr Postman. It’s instantly recognizable as the same group, something which couldn’t have been said of Twistin’ Postman, and something which undoubtedly played well with radio listeners.

It’s actually performed slightly better than Please Mr Postman, giving Marvelettes-watchers a first tangible sign of musical development. The backing vocals are still shrill, piercing and amateurish, but less so than on previous efforts; meanwhile, Gladys Horton turns in another cracking lead vocal, again sounding considerably older than her years, cocky and charming all at once.

At this stage, Gladys was the group’s biggest asset, a genuine top-drawer talent as a vocalist; Wanda Young, who would later take over as the Marvelettes’ lead singer and cut some brilliant sides, was nowhere near ready at this point in time. As 1962 opened, the Marvelettes were essentially Gladys Horton And Her Schoolfriends; this would be the year when they developed into a bona fide group and a consistent hit-making act. (This one went Top 5 R&B and Top Ten pop, which was not too shabby.)

Gladys was also the song’s primary songwriter – the three people credited as co-writers were arguably the cream of the Motown writing talent at the time, but the liner notes to The Complete Motown Singles: Volume 2 are absolutely unequivocal in describing this as Gladys’ song, buffed and polished by the three old(er) hands. It’s good stuff, too, strongly reminiscent of Please Mr Postman of course, but the driving beat, infectious handclaps, two-note minimal-variation vocal bridge, and the closing He – he – he’s a playboy (which actually sounds more like Wanda than Gladys to me?) are all very nicely done.

Once again on a Marvelettes record, though, the most prominent features are the use of incomplete lines on lead vocal (Gladys frequently stops or holds her note, letting the backing vocals finish her sentence for her), and switching between lead and backing vocals to carry the main line of the melody – two gimmicks that were fast becoming the Marvelettes’ USP, their recognizable “thing”.

None of which is to say it’s a masterpiece, or anything. On reflection, it’s still kind of thin, insofar as there’s not a lot of song going on under the charming tricks and twists; not a lot of melody, not a lot of hooks, not a particularly catchy chorus.

In fact, Motown’s output in the first few months of 1962 had reached such a high standard that this one barely even makes it into the top half of the year’s releases so far; among the eleven singles Motown had already released in 1962 had been such gems as Mary Wells’ The One Who Really Loves You, the Temptations’ (You’re My) Dream Come True, Henry Lumpkin’s What Is A Man (Without A Woman), Eddie Holland’s You Deserve What You Got, and the Miracles’ magnificent I’ll Try Something New, all of which are, to my way of thinking, better records than Playboy.

Nonetheless, this is a massive step in the right direction. The first appearance of the new material that would make up the third (and at the time, by a very long chalk, the best) Marvelettes album, also titled Playboy, it’s a vital missing link which presages the run of superb singles and B-sides the group would release over the following twelve months, even though it never quite looks like joining that rarified club itself.

If the stellar, never-to-be-recaptured magic of their début single had been something of a quirk, a statistical oddity if not an outright fluke, then in many ways the Marvelettes’ story really begins right here.

MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
6/10


Image


Song #130 is up now. Earlier we heard a duet between the Supremes and the Temptations. Here's another duet between two other Motown acts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jz_D-greh8Q

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:48 pm

Song #130 is "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing" from Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell in 1968. When Motown paired these two it was like magic, as they had a run of 5 or 6 excellent records before Tammi got sick and eventually died. The song was written by Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson. who also sang background vocals on the record. It became a hit within weeks of release eventually peaking at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the Hot Soul Singles chart.


Image


Song #129 is up now, and we are back in 1970.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsV5W1_pv2E

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:45 pm

Song #129 is "If I Were Your Woman" by Gladys Knight & The Pips. This one is from the latter part of 1970, and it reached #1 on the Billboard Soul chart, and #9 on the Pop chart. It was written by Pam Sawyer, Clay McMurray, and Gloria Jones (Marc Bolan's Girlfriend), produced by McMurray and arranged by David Van De Pitte. The song was listed on 5 ballots.

Alicia Keys recorded the song as "If I Was Your Woman." It's got a nice lowdown drum track.


Image


Song #128 is up, and it's PARTY TIME!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfy5uN_wt3A

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Tue Oct 29, 2019 11:15 pm

We just got back from the "Function At The Junction!" It was song #128 on the countdown. The artist is Shorty Long, and it is from 1966. This was a HUGE party record in the Black community, even thought it only reached #42 on the Billboard Soul chart, and #97 on their Pop chart, The Hot 100. The song was written by Eddie Holland and Shorty Long.

Of all people, Little Richard had a cover version of the song while the original was still popular.


Image


Song #127 is next. It's one of several records that I am upset about not at least making the top 100.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvK8Qjwd0AA

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Wed Oct 30, 2019 1:39 pm

Coming it at #127 is "Don't Look Back" by the Tall Talented Temptations. This is from 1965, and it was the B side of "My Baby," but it became a hit in its own right, reaching the top 15 on Billboard's Soul chart, and #83 on their Pop chart. It was the finest moment for Paul Williams as far as him singing the lead vocal on a popular Temptations song.

Written by Miracles members Smokey Robinson and Ronald White, the authors of the No. 1 Temptations hit "My Girl", "Don't Look Back" is a reassurance to the tentative that finding true love is worth the heartbreak and failed relationships it takes to reach it. As the song's narrator, Paul Williams, promises his lover, in his trademark gritty tone:

If you just put your hand in mine
We're gonna leave all your troubles behind
keep on walkin' and don't look back.
Smokey Robinson, the song's producer, specifically assigned Paul Williams to sing lead on the song. Although Williams had been the group's original lead singer during its formative years, his role had by 1965 been eclipsed by David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks, who had both sung lead on Temptations hit singles. As such, Williams was often overlooked for leads, even on album tracks and B-sides, prompting him to complain, "shit, y'know, I can sing too!"

"Don't Look Back" was originally this single's A-side, but was passed over by the nation's DJs in favor of the Ruffin-led "My Baby", which had a much bigger pop success than this song, and placed on the B-side. The song nevertheless was promoted as if it were an A-side and would be the only B-side to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 for the group.

Although the song's relatively modest initial chart success prevented Paul Williams from getting any more leads on Temptations singles releases, the fact is that "Don't Look Back" became a huge belated hit, because his dynamic performance of the song on the Temptations Live! LP received huge airplay by R&B DeeJays nationwide, and propelled sales of the album into the Top 10 of the Billboard pop album chart.


"Don't Look Back" was more often performed at Temptations live shows than "My Baby". On the 1967 Temptations Live! album, the women in the audience can be heard demanding that the group perform the song, which they proceeded to do. Paul Williams, who developed many of The Temptations' dance steps, developed a routine for the live shows that had him following the song's advice to "keep on walkin'" and performing a strut across the stage, to the delight of the audience. As befitting an intended "A" side, "Don't Look Back" was conceived by Motown Records as an elaborate and dynamic closing number for the Temptations.

As Paul Williams' specialty number, "Don't Look Back" was retired from The Temptations' repertoire after Williams, suffering from complications of sickle-cell disease and alcoholism, left the group in 1971. The group performed the song at their induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a tribute to Williams, along with Daryl Hall and John Oates, who announced the induction.


Here's the link to the MOTOWN JUNKIES REVIEW - https://motownjunkies.co.uk/2013/09/14/639/ - It got 8/10.


Image


Song #126 is next, as we jump to 1977.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XcTyEKSnYg

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Wed Oct 30, 2019 5:52 pm

We heard song #126, "Easy" by the Commodores, from 1977. Not one of my favorites, but it was listed on 5 ballots in the voting. Group member Lionel Richie wrote "Easy" with the intention of it becoming another crossover hit for the group given the success of a previous single, "Just to Be Close to You." Released in March 1977, "Easy" reached number one on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart and number four on the Billboard Hot 100. The success of "Easy" paved the way for similar Lionel Richie-composed hit ballads such as "Three Times a Lady" and "Still," and also for Richie's later solo hits. The recording is noted for its feedback noise, heard in the Bridge section, as well as an electric guitar solo. The song goes up half a step from A-Flat to A which repeats the refrain as the song fades out.


Image


Many of the Black Motown acts recorded rock and pop songs that were hits by White acts, and these were usually album tracks like "Hey Jude" by the Temptations and "Bits And Pieces" by the Supremes. Occasionally one of these songs was released as the A side of a single, like this one that comes in at #125 on our countdown.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiI6n35QpKM
Last edited by Hymie on Thu Oct 31, 2019 1:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:44 pm

Song #125 is "Walk Away Renee" from the Four Tops in 1967. The song was a big hit already in 1966 by the Left Banke. The Tops version was bigger on the Billboard Pop chart (#14) than it was on the R&B chart (#15). It was even bigger in the UK, reaching #3 on the British charts. The song was written by Michael Brown, Bob Calilli, and Tony Sansone.


Image


Next up at #124 is another one from the Four Tops.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4XFq_WjPXM

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Thu Oct 31, 2019 4:28 am

Song #124 is "Standing In The Shadows of Love" by the Four Tops, from 1966. The record was listed on 6 ballots and had 156 points in the voting. Written and produced by Motown's main production team Holland–Dozier–Holland, the song is one of the most well-known Motown tunes of the 1960s. A direct follow-up to the #1 hit "Reach Out I'll Be There" (even featuring a similar musical arrangement), "Standing in the Shadows of Love" reached #2 on the soul chart and #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967. It also reached #6 in the UK.

AllMusic critic John Bush calls "Standing in the Shadows of Love" "dramatic" and "impassioned." Critic Andrew Hamilton calls it a "memorable, unforgettable, timeless blast" which would have made Motown "notable" even if it was the only song Motown ever produced. Hamilton remarks on the song's power to conjure up "mournful" emotions, and particularly highlights the coldness of lyrics such as "standing in the shadows of love getting ready for the heartaches to come." Hamilton praises the intensity of Levi Stubbs' lead vocal and how it can make the listener believe that he is about to have a nervous breakdown. Music critic Maury Dean describes the singer as waiting for his girlfriend to dump him and psyching himself for the blow and for getting ready for a new girlfriend. He uses the metaphor of Wile E. Coyote to describe the singer's emotions as he waits for the "anvil to drop on his fervent love."


Image


Song #123 is next, and it was the first hit record for one of Motown's biggest acts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQXdxFCgmkk

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Thu Oct 31, 2019 1:38 pm

Song #123 is "Stubborn Kind of Fellow." It was the first hit for Marvin Gaye, from 1962. The record reached #8 on Billboard's R&B chart, and peaked at #46 Pop. The song was written by Marvin along with William Stevenson and George Gordy.

FROM WIKIPEDIA:

By summer 1962, Marvin Gaye had recorded for Tamla Records, a subsidiary of Motown Enterprises, for a year with limited success. The previous summer, Gaye released his first LP, The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye, an album of jazz and pop standards that failed to crack the charts. He had also released a total of three singles, all of which also failed to enter the Billboard charts. According to some within the label, he was considered "the least likely hit maker." During 1961, Gaye had spent time on the road as a drummer for fellow Tamla act, The Miracles, and had also drummed for blues artist Jimmy Reed, earning $5 weekly. In early 1962, Gaye scored his first major success as a songwriter, composing music with producer Mickey Stevenson and George Gordy on The Marvelettes' top 40 hit, "Beechwood 4-5789".

Though he had initially wanted to avoid the rhythm and blues market, Gaye figured it was his only way to establish himself as a crossover pop act, and reluctantly agreed to record a song in that style. Hiring Stevenson and Gordy, Gaye wrote and composed a song that fit his sometimes moody attitude, titling it "Stubborn Kind of Fellow" after Berry Gordy suggested some piano chord changes to Gaye. In a 1982 interview conducted in Europe, Gaye recalled "Berry heard me playing it on the piano. He came over and he said something to the effect of, 'I like that melody but can you do something else with it.' That was my first power encounter with him. I remember he wanted me to change some chords. I had a brief argument with him as to why I thought it should remain the way I wrote it. In any event, I changed things his way."

Singing the song in a husky, strong voice, the song's guitarist David Hamilton later stated, "You could hear the man screaming on that tune, you could tell he was hungry", further implicating Gaye's determination to succeed noting, "If you listen to that song you'll say, 'Hey man, he was trying to make it because he was on his last leg'." The song included Martha Reeves on background vocals with several of her friends from a former group, the Del-Phis, including Rosalind Ashford, Gloria Williams and Annette Beard. They are shown on the label of the record as the Vandellas.

Here's a link to the MOTOWN JUNKIES review, he gives it 8/10 - https://motownjunkies.co.uk/2010/08/26/210/


Image


RANK-BALLOTS-POINTS-TITLE-ARTIST
123 - 04-157 - Stubborn Kind of Fellow - Marvin Gaye
124 - 06-156 - Standing In The Shadows of Love - Four Tops
125 - 04-156 - Walk Away Renee - Four Tops
126 - 05-155 - Easy- Commodores
127 - 05-155 - Don't Look Back - Temptations
128 - 03-154 - Function at the Junction - Shorty Long
129 - 05-149 - If I Were Your Woman - Gladys Knight & Pips
130 - 05-147 - Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
131 - 04-142 - Playboy - Marvelettes
132 - 04-142 - You'll Lose A Precious Love - Temptations
133 - 04-142 - Master Blaster (Jammin’) - Stevie Wonder
134 - 05-139 - You're A Wonderful One - Marvin Gaye
135 - 04-139 - Friendship Train - Gladys Knight & Pips
136 - 04-136 - I Hear A Symphony - Supremes
137 - 03-136 - The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game - Marvelettes
138 - 03-135 - Paradise - Temptations
139 - 05-134 - (I'm A) Road Runner - Jr. Walker & The All-Stars
140 - 05-131 - Quicksand - Martha & The Vandellas
141 - 03-131 - I'm Gonna Make You Love Me - Supremes and Temptations
142 - 03-131 - Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You) - Stevie Wonder
143 - 02-130 - You’re My Desire – Equadors
144 - 02-128 - Walk Away From Love - David Ruffin
145 - 02-125 - A Favor For a Girl - Brenda Holloway
146 - 03-124 - I'll Turn To Stone - Four Tops
147 - 03-124 - Hello - Lionel Richie
148 - 04-123 - Too Busy Thinking About My Baby - Marvin Gaye
149 - 03-123 - Would I Love You - Miracles
150 - 04-119 - Seven Rooms of Gloom - Four Tops
151 - 03-117 - A Fork In The Road - Miracles
152 - 05-115 - You Are the Sunshine of My Life - Stevie Wonder
153 - 04-115 - I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever) - Stevie Wonder
154 - 03-114 - Reflections - Supremes
155 - 02-114 - Square Biz - Teena Marie
156 - 04-113 - Two Lovers - Mary Wells
157 - 03-111 - The Only One I Love - Miracles
===========================================================================


Song #122 is next. It's the first song to appear by this artist.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQgj6HmjZ9g

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:35 pm

Song #122 is "Who's Lovin' You" by the Jackson 5. It features am amazingly emotional lead vocal from the then 10-11 years old Michael. When the record came out people were telling Smokey that "That little kid done stole your song." They were right too! As good as the Miracles original version is, this one is definitely better. Check out the Miracles version here:


The J5 version was first issued as the flip side of "I Want You Back," and that's the great version. The one that was included on their first album has a bunch more background vocals that detract from the record IMO. The track was recorded on August 7, 1969, before Michael turned 11 years old 3 weeks later. Tito, Jermaine, and Jackie on background vocals with Bobby Taylor of The Vancouvers serving as producer. The Jackson 5 version of "Who's Lovin' You" was one of a number of early recordings the group made at the Hitsville U.S.A. recording studio in Detroit, Michigan, with the Funk Brothers on instrumentation. Just after recording this song, Berry Gordy moved the entire Jackson family to Los Angeles, California to record the hit pop songs he would co-write for the group with The Corporation.

The song was issued as the b-side to The Jackson 5's first single, "I Want You Back", which went to #1 on both the pop and R&B charts. A shortened version was included on the first Jackson 5 LP, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5. The original single version was twenty seconds longer, with fewer backing vocals and sparser instrumentation than the album version. The mono single mix was released on Michael's Love Songs compilation release in 2002. The Jackson 5 performed this on their first Ed Sullivan Show appearance.



When the group performed the song during their concerts and live performances, Michael usually gave an intro about being really young but knowing about the blues, usually stating how he met the girl during sandbox and sharing cookies, and ended in "I stepped up to her and i said..." the song started from there. In their first concert in Philadelphia, it (along with "I Want You Back") caused the show to be stopped for several minutes because of such a huge response from the audience. It was a regularly performed/popular song in their set-list from 1970 to early 1972, presumably dropped from the set because of more hits being released and Michael's voice beginning to change in 1972.


Image


Song #121 is next, and ironically it's another early record from the Miracles.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTMEnJvl2w0

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Thu Oct 31, 2019 11:30 pm

Song #121 is "Way Over There" by the Miracles, from 1961. The video I used is of the version that does not have strings. It came out both ways, with strings, and without strings. It did no make the charts in 1960, but it was re-released in 1962 with a different flip side, and that time it did scrape the bottom of the Billboard Hot 100 at #94. The son was written by Smokey and produced by Berry Gordy himself. Claudette (Mrs. Smokey) Robinson had several lead parts on this song (as the "lover way over there on the mountainside"), answering Smokey's leads with chants of "Come to me, Baby."

Here's the MOTOWN JUNKIES review:

The Miracles: “Way Over There”
Tamla T 54028 (A)*, February 1960


The first new Motown release of 1960 saw Smokey Robinson’s first solo writing credit on the A-side, as the Miracles settled into their role as one of the most important groups on the label and Smokey started to flex his songwriting muscles as he moved into his twenties.

Despite not being as famous as some of Smokey’s better-known later hit singles, Way Over There is one of his best, right out of the top drawer. Supposedly, the song was inspired by the Isley Brothers’ Shout, though this inspiration is more apparent in the use of a major/minor chord progression at a quick pace than any similarity in tune.

This is more upbeat and uptempo than the previous Miracles singles, Smokey attacking the vocal with considerably more brio and raw throatiness than his customary smooth singing style, the Miracles giving it their all on the backing vocals, and exciting new ingredients like handclaps and electric guitar providing a heady mix.

Starting out with an unusual Oriental piano riff, this is a great pop song all the way, the theme of the narrator being unstoppable as he overcomes all obstacles to rejoin his love matched by the giddy enthusiasm of the verses and a soaring, optimistic chorus. That chorus is one of early Smokey’s best, and Robinson absolutely *nails* it, hitting the very top of his range when he sings “I’m on my way-YYY”… great stuff.

Like the Satintones’ excellent My Beloved and Eugene Remus’ rather less excellent You Never Miss A Good Thing, Berry Gordy had the Miracles re-record Way Over There with a string section and then re-pressed the single with the new recording, meaning there are two competing versions with the same catalogue number.

(Annoyingly, this single also has the same catalogue number as the Miracles’ previous hastily-withdrawn Tamla single, The Feeling Is So Fine.)


Image


Anyway, they’re both exceptionally good; the “strings” version sounds a bit fuller, more well-rounded, but I’m not convinced that Smokey’s vocal on the sparse, piano-led first version isn’t the better take, and the curtain of backing harmonies and prominent rhythm guitar part on the first version directly presages the Beatles’ Please Please Me LP a couple of years later (the Beatles, of course, being big fans of the Miracles’ work). In the debit column, the first version’s piano work has a few noticeable mistakes in it, whereas the second version is played almost flawlessly. Once again, you pays yer money and you takes yer choice.

This wasn’t the last time Gordy would pull this trick; Motown would continue to release different “second pressing” versions of a few singles over the next couple of years, a boon for collectors but a loss for those who crave a “definitive” version of a given single, if only to compare alternate versions against.

Adding to the overall confusion, the flip of the single was a re-recording of the earlier B-side (You Can) Depend On Me.

The 1962 reissue - reproduced by arrangement.As if enough confusion hadn’t already been caused for collectors, the second pressing was then reissued two and a half years later, with a new catalogue number and a brand-new B-side, If Your Mother Only Knew, using the new Tamla “globes” label stock.


Image


The motives for doing so aren’t entirely clear – perhaps Motown simply felt the song hadn’t achieved its full potential the first time around, and that they could do more with it now they were in a stronger financial position with more marketing muscle. If so, they might have been a little disappointed – this reissued version of the single was marginally more successful than the original, just cracking the pop Top 100 at number 94.

Even more confusingly, the re-issued single itself went through two separate pressings, each featuring a different recording of the B-side If Your Mother Only Knew. Mercifully, the same version of Way Over There is featured on both pressings of the re-issue.

MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
9/10


==========================================================================================================

As we head towards our top 100, #120 is up now. I see this as perhaps the first ever disco record, from 1966:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lLLxQO8c2k

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Fri Nov 01, 2019 5:15 am

Song #120 is "Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart" by the Supremes in 1966. It's got most of the elements of disco. The pumping beat, the break, etc...It reached #7 on the Billboard Soul chart and #9 on their Pop chart. Written and produced by Motown's main production team of Holland–Dozier–Holland, the song was recorded in June 1965 and not released until April 1966. Billboard named the song #90 on their list of 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time.

One of the group's most powerful singles, this uptempo and brassy dance single was somewhat of a departure from the group's much lighter, pop-oriented sound, with a production set for an uptempo soul sound similar to that of material by fellow Motown groups Martha and the Vandellas and the Four Tops. The lyrics tell of how the narrator has been "bitten by the love bug" and no matter what she does, she can't "scratch it" (the itch created by the bite of the love bug). Lead singer Diana Ross' bandmates Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson accompany Ross, as she sings about her lover's grasp on her heart. The girl group performed the hit live on CBS variety program The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday, May 1, 1966. Here it is:


Image


Song #119 is up now. We go to this time of the year in 1964.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beW9AH1Goxg

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Fri Nov 01, 2019 1:36 pm

Marvin Gaye has the #119 song on the countdown, "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You." This one came out late in 1964 and was still on the charts in early 1965. It reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop chart, and got to #3 on the Cash Box R&B chart. Billboard did not have an R&B Chart for most of the record's run. The song was written by the Motown songwriting team of Holland–Dozier–Holland, and produced by Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier.

Up to that point, it was Gaye's most successful single with record sales exceeding 900,000 copies. The song's personnel includes Marvin Gaye on lead vocals;[3] The Andantes on background vocals; and The Funk Brothers on various instruments, including piano and percussion. Gaye also released a German-language version of the song entitled "Wie Schön Das Ist".


Here's the MOTOWN JUNKIES review:

Marvin Gaye: “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”
Tamla T 54107 (A), November 1964


Another Top Ten hit for both Marvin Gaye and the so-hot-right-now Holland-Dozier-Holland trio, all the more impressive coming as it did in the wake of the relative failure of the last Marvin-HDH single, the excellent Baby Don’t You Do It, barely two months earlier.

In many ways, this one is something a departure for both Gaye and the writers. Marvin, as regular readers will know, harboured ambitions to be a jazz crooner, a superstar of the supper-club circuit, the next Nat King Cole; possessing no real talent for that genre to match his boundless enthusiasm (at this point, he’d just cut his third LP of standards and show tunes in a futile attempt to try and get a foothold in that market), he seems almost annoyed to have discovered he was actually an excellent R&B pop singer instead.Holland-Dozier-Holland, meanwhile, were on a hot streak the likes of which Motown had never seen before. Stories of their all-night sessions and “production line” approach are legion; anecdotes that have them handing lyric sheets to the singer in the studio while Eddie was still writing the next page, images of three guys who haven’t slept for days, slumped at pianos, or lying on couches, or the floor, surrounded by sheets of paper, pencils behind their ears.

But just because they were so prolific, burning the candle at both ends and then trying to light the middle too just to get the thing to burn just a little more brightly, people shouldn’t assume they were slapdash, cranking the machine and churning out the hits. They were serious about what they did.

Tasked by Motown with writing Marvin Gaye a pop hit, they set about finding a perfect mix, something that could straddle the worlds of hip-shaking teen pop stardom and eyes-closed soft-jazz croonerdom, and then they kept revising it up to and including the point Gaye had to go and tape his final lead vocal. But they weren’t messing around, and Marvin, a brooding and self-critical character even at the best of times, seems to have responded well to the scholarly approach HDH took to their craft. “I felt comfortable with them. They were very serious producers and I understood where they were coming from”, he said later. The time would come when Marvin Gaye would bristle at being told exactly what to do, especially by three young guys who gave the impression they were making it up as they went along, but for now the partnership worked, and this was by far its biggest commercial success to date. It romped to the Top Ten both R&B and pop, while in the UK (where this was rush-released, leapfrogging several US Motown hits we’ve already covered, to coincide with Gaye’s touring live in England), it gave Marvin his first chart action, unlucky not to land a Top 40 hit.

Is it better than Baby Don’t You Do It? No, it’s not even close.

Marvin's seventh LP in four years, 1965's 'How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You', titled after this song.For me, this was ruined before I ever heard it by the movie American Pie, in which it’s treated as a kind of cheesy pseudo-standard sung by a school choir, based on the hideous 70s whitebread version by James Taylor, a quintessentially naff arrangement sung in a style and key which really highlights the queasy MOR sheen that lives just under the song’s surface.

(The worst moment, in this or any other version, is when the lead singer says I wanna stop! and the backing vocalists all pile in on the word Stop!, and there’s a sudden dead air stop, just for a fleeting instant in Marvin’s version compared to whole bars in others; but that’s a part that’s highlighted in the movie, and it makes the whole thing sound as though it’s being performed by a high school jazz choir for an audience of bored parents, rather than, say, some of the greatest singers and musicians in history shooting for posterity. It makes me physically squirm.)

In effect, HDH did their jobs too well: there’s schlock in this song’s DNA, and while Gaye only hints at its presence, other, less skilled interpreters dug it right on out and rubbed the listener’s faces in it.

I’m not marking this single down for the failings of other, awful cover versions. I just mean that the very existence of those other, awful cover versions, the ease with which this can be turned into an MOR staple, highlights the song’s weaknesses in advance. By the time I got to Marvin’s original, I was already sensitive to the self-contained, tune-within-a-tune nature of the chorus and verses that overpower any delicacy Motown and the Funk Brothers bring to the table. We’ll meet two more instrumental covers here on Motown Junkies before we’re done, but even those – not to mention the best version that exists, the Isley Brothers’ eye-opening cover – can’t completely rescue it for me. To me, it’ll always sound like Marvin (or Choker, or Earl) doing an interesting and intelligent cover of a James Taylor song, rather than Taylor ruining a Marvin Gaye song, and I can’t unhear it.

Which leaves me in a bit of a pickle, I guess. Marvin is in his heaven here, getting to play both crooner and pop star at once, and it always sounds better when I actually play it than it ever does in my head. But – bass aside – it’s not as good as the Isleys version, it always feels like it’s about to slip into James Taylor at any moment, and – let’s be honest, here – I just don’t like the tune. However well-written it is, however excellent HDH’s intution for creating something with the hallmarks of an MOR standard without it actually being one, it sets off schmaltz alarms in my head, alarms delicately calibrated by thirty years of instinctively avoiding processed cheese and MOR pap. Is any of that really the record’s fault, rather than mine? Is it fair to slag off one of the biggest early hits by one of the greatest Motown artists, just because I don’t really like it?

In the end, I don’t suppose it matters too much. Nobody’s reading this in order to find out what the record sounds like; I’m guessing you either want me to love it, or hate it. In fact, it’s neither. I can certainly appreciate the skill and care that went into it, that it’s well-made; it sets out to sound like a cover of some unheard white radio staple, and it manages its task splendidly. And there are things about it I do actually like in an unqualified way. Marvin Gaye is excellent here just by dint of being Marvin Gaye, doing what he does best, which works in the record’s favour, and there’s plenty of little bits of this I’d gladly hear again and again – the bass is outstanding. But the singalong chorus sounds incongruous with the cooler, sparser, more detached air of the verses, parachuted in from some other song, and however many covers there have been, however many first dances at wedding receptions have taken place to it, it’s still just not that good of a chorus.

(Plus, for a tale of joy and devotion, Marvin never really sells it, it never really swells the heart like his similar declarations of happiness in, say, Pride And Joy. But then, maybe it would do a better job if Hollywood hadn’t co-opted it for me first.)

It’s not terrible, and unlike the last Four Tops single, I can see how this could be someone’s favourite Marvin Gaye song. I’m expecting another avalanche of “disagree” votes in protest. But, honestly, this feels like an artefact from some other, cheesier version of the Motown story, and I can’t open up and love it.

MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
5/10



Image


Song #118 is up now. The first sighting of this group.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6U_N46cKpGo

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Fri Nov 01, 2019 8:49 pm

Song #118 is "Funny" by the Contours, from 1961. This one was NOT a hit, not even close, but it is a revered record among many doo wop collectors. Here's the MOTOWN JUNKIES review of this one. This will REALLY piss off some friends of mine.

The Contours: “Funny”
Motown M 1012 (B), August 1961


Ugh.

In what must rank as one of the worst creative decisions in the Motown story, this B-side sees the Contours – the affable, self-admitted chancers who were Motown’s most physical live act, performing insane stage routines that bordered on the acrobatic – taken out of their natural habitat, and asked to do a full-on romantic doo-wop ballad.

It’s awful.

It’s sort of reminiscent of I Only Have Eyes For You, sort of, but in truth it’s hard to tell quite how the song was meant to sound, because literally everybody on the record is so off-key it actually beggars belief.

It’s impossible to imagine what the other vocal takes must have been like if these were the performances they chose, but the singing is uniformly dreadful. The song begins with the backing vocals taking the first half-verse, and it’s not a promising start, because they’re the worst backing vocals in Motown history. They’re hard work to listen to in and of themselves – a particular low point comes at 0:51-0:55 with a series of ow-ow-ow yelps followed by a squeal, which (after repeated, painful listens) I eventually realized were meant to be an extended “I” in the line “Even as I dream” – but they’re not only out of tune with the music, they also clash horribly with new Contours lead singer Sylvester Potts. Check out the nasty effect at 1:22, when backing and lead vocals trip right over each other and create a dischord so complete you’d swear it was intentional, which is unforgivably shoddy for a label that would come to symbolise meticulously-arranged harmonic perfectionism in Sixties pop.

Potts, though, is the absolute worst thing on this record. You know how some music critics – mostly older white music critics – when describing a record where they don’t like the singer’s voice or lack of discipline, will dismiss something as sounding “like cats fighting in an alley”, or somesuch?

Yeah. Anyway, Sylvester Potts’ singing on this record actually, genuinely sounds like cats fighting in an alley. Check out the ear-splitting yelps at 1:38 (preferably not while listening through headphones, you might do yourself some damage) and again at 2:11 for selected lowlights. Then remind yourself that someone passed that as fit for release. Not just “someone”, but MOTOWN, no less. Reflect on the three volumes of amazing discarded material on the incomparably glorious A Cellarful Of Motown series (some of which discarded material is actually by the Contours themselves), and wonder just how this abomination ever got off the cutting room floor. If I’d been Berry Gordy, I’d not only have not released it, I’d have tied big heavy rocks to the only existing master tape, sneaked out at midnight and thrown it in the Detroit River.

Seriously, it’s unlistenable, to me anyway, and I’m someone who’s paid good money for Throbbing Gristle records. The liner notes to The Complete Motown Singles: Volume 1 describe this as “a classic vocal harmony ballad… it’s still arresting today”. Well, there is no harmony in these vocals, none whatsoever, and as for “arresting”, that’s only true in the sense that playing this too loud after 11pm could indeed see the police turn up at your house to find out just what the fuck is going on with all that screeching and yelping.

Quite possibly the worst Motown record of all time, vying for the wooden spoon with the inglorious likes of Eugene Remus’ cacophonic Hold Me Tight and Mickey Woods’ borderline-racist “comedy country & western” ditty They Rode Through The Valley. In fact, Funny is so utterly, shockingly, irredeemably poor that the only possible reason for its existence is that greater forces were at work keeping balance in the universe – the brilliance and perfection of the Marvelettes’ Please Mr Postman clearly required Motown to make a record which was the complete opposite of the Marvelettes’ hit in every possible way, or else the world would end. They must have succeeded, because we’re all still here, and this is terrible.

A bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad record.

MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
1/10



Image


Song #117 is up, and we're back to familiar monster hit Motown on this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejHly0PsBpY

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Sat Nov 02, 2019 1:18 am

Song #117 is "Love Child," the Supremes from 1968. This was one of the big records at the time I first really started caring about music, the fall of 1968 when I turned 11 years old. The record took just three weeks to reach the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart, which it then topped for two weeks, November 30—December 7, 1968, before being dethroned by an even bigger Motown single, Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine". "Love Child" also performed well on the soul chart — where it spent three weeks at number two (stuck behind Johnnie Taylor's "Who's Making Love") — and paved new ground for a major pop hit with its then-controversial subject matter of illegitimacy. It is also the single that finally knocked the Beatles' "Hey Jude" off the top spot in the United States after its nine-week run. The Supremes debuted the dynamic and intense song on the season premiere of the CBS variety program The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday, September 29, 1968. I was gonna show the video, but it's a lip synch.

Diana is the only Supreme singing on the record. She was backed up by The Andantes: Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow, and Louvain Demps.

Image


Song #116 is up. It was first issued on an album in 1962, and then a single the following year. It really does not have a "Motown Sound," at all, sounding more like a 50s doo wop ballad than anything else.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AKh53aC7XY

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Sat Nov 02, 2019 4:12 am

Song #116 is "Forever" by the Marvelettes, from 1962. It was listed on just 4 ballots, but all 4 had it high on their lists, getting it to 180 points. The song was written by Brian Holland, Freddy Gorman and Lamont Dozier. It was first issued in 1962 on the "Playboy" album, and then it was on a single as the B side to "locking Up My Heart" in 1963. It reached #24 on the Billboard R&B Chart and #78 Pop. The song was a HUGE classic on oldies radio in Philadelphia, at one point making the top 10 of one station's list of the top 560 songs of all time.

Let's see what our friend at MOTOWN JUNKIES Had to say about this one:

The Marvelettes: “Forever”
Tamla T 54077 (AA), February 1963



The Marvelettes’ magnificent third LP, Playboy, had been released to general acclaim in July 1962. When Motown struggled to push the newly-released follow-up, The Marvelous Marvelettes, the following February – the lead single, Strange I Know, hadn’t exactly set the world on fire, and Locking Up My Heart wasn’t looking like doing much better – they opted to go back to the Playboy album for the latter’s B-side.

It seems like a cautious, hedging-their-bets kind of move on Motown’s part, belying a conservatism that would crop up time and time again throughout the Sixties and Seventies, with singles from brand-new albums routinely paired with B-sides from two, three, four years previous if the company got cold feet over how the fans might react. In this instance, however, it’s a blessing that Motown chose to package Locking Up My Heart with Forever; this is one of the Marvelettes’ best records, and it deservedly hit the charts in its own right.

(It did so very possibly at the expense of the A-side, incidentally, DJs tiring of the strident screeching on the top side and flipping the record over to get to the dreamy ballad; both sides ended up within one place of each other on the R&B charts, this one going one better than the A-side by reaching number 24, although Forever stalled at number 78 pop while Locking Up My Heart limped up to 44. But I digress.)

One of a clutch of songs written for the Playboy LP back in the spring of 1962 by Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier with their then-lyricist Freddie Gorman, this is maybe the standout track on an exceptional album. Notably, it’s also the first truly great lead vocal ever laid down by Wanda Young, who would later go on to become the the group’s undisputed leader throughout the mid- to late-Sixties, but who usually played second fiddle to Gladys Horton at this point in time.

Promo label scan kindly provided by Gordon Frewin, reproduced by arrangement.A lot of Wanda’s early vocals are shrill, screechy showcases for the very high falsetto she thought she could do, sometimes bordering on the unlistenable (Eddie Kendricks of the Temptations was suffering a similar fate over in the boys’ camp at the same time), but not this one. Here, she delivers a beautiful lyric with such grace and maturity that it’s almost impossible to remember she was sixteen at the time of recording.

(Indeed, quite honestly, in her lead outings up to this point she’d given no indication whatsoever that she even had a performance like this one in her – I don’t know if it was Holland and Dozier’s idea to coax her a few notches down the scale, or whether it was Wanda who surprised them by coming out with this, but it’s startling.)

Here, though, she’s amazing, delivering the lyrics in wholly convincing fashion, lyrics that are quite different from anything the Marvelettes had really tackled before now – an honest, soul-searching examination of what it means to really be in love with somebody:-

Darling, forever, forever / You can break my heart / I’ll play the part of a fool / Just to be with you, forever… You can torment me / Take my love for granted / But I’ll always be just a fool, if I could be with you… I’ll be your slave for the rest of my days… Just to be with you thrills me through and through…

The British release. Scan kindly provided by '144man'.It’s extraordinary, something you’d expect from the finer moments of Smokey Robinson, or his work for Mary Wells – but not from the Marvelettes, and certainly not from Wanda of all people. And yet here it is. Prior to the Playboy album, a lot of people would have underestimated her, and the group, as a bad singer and a thin, one-dimensional pop act; they wouldn’t be making that mistake again. Wanda is so good here mainly because she’s so restrained – Mary Wells, or Kim Weston, or Diana Ross, or (more pertinently) Gladys Horton, might have been tempted to really attack this, with a big-voiced approach, wearing their emotions on their sleeve; instead, Wanda gives this an almost eerie calmness, spelling out just what lengths she’ll go to in a completely matter-of-fact way that sends chills down the spine. It’s perfect.

The tune is quite, quite lovely, too, a slowly-rotating piano-led ballad, rooted in doo-wop, with tasteful brushed drums and barely-audible organ in the distance, while the hushed tones of the other Marvelettes are kept right down in the mix, giving the whole thing a delicate, almost dreamy atmosphere – the perfect vehicle for Wanda to lay her soul bare. The whole thing is really just beautifully done.

If anything, it’s actually a kick in the teeth for the A-side, because it sets an almost impossibly high standard that Locking Up My Heart, passable but ordinary, can’t hope to live up to.

It’s not a single, mind you, not by any stretch of the imagination, and certainly not a Marvelettes single. This would never hit the Top Ten; it’s too slow, too billowy, the lyrics are too disturbing. But to quibble over what this record is not is to miss the point. What this record is is quite, quite magnificent; the Marvelettes would never really revisit this kind of territory, and it would be years before Wanda managed anything on this level again, but it remains remarkable, and wholly excellent.

MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
9/10



Image


Song #115 is up now. Another female vocal group. This one is from 1964:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awKSaYK8488

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Sat Nov 02, 2019 1:45 pm

Heading toward the Top 100, we just heard song #115, "He Was Really Sayin' Somethin'" from the Velvelettes in 1964. Of course many people under 50 likely heard the song first by Bananarama, who had a Top 5 UK hit with it in the 1980s. The Velvelettes record reached #21 on the Billboard Soul chart early in 1965. It got to #64 on the Pop chart.

The song was written by Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield, William "Mickey" Stevenson, and Edward Holland, Jr.. Produced by Norman Whitfield, the Velvelettes' version was released on Motown's V.I.P. label on December 27, 1964. The single was the second most successful release for the Velvelettes, a minor Motown act which never released a full-length album. "Throw a Farewell Kiss", composed by Whitfield and Holland and produced by Whitfield, had been recorded in October 1962 and was issued as the B-side of "He Was Really Sayin' Somethin'." Six years later, Whitfield had the Temptations record "Farewell Kiss" for their 1971 album Sky's the Limit.

The group was founded in 1961 by Bertha Barbee McNeal and Mildred Gill Arbor, students at Western Michigan University. Mildred recruited her younger sister Carolyn (also known as Cal or Caldin), who was in 9th grade, and Cal's friend Betty Kelley, a junior in high school. Bertha recruited her cousin Norma Barbee, a freshman at Flint Junior College. Cal was chosen as the group's lead singer. A classmate at Western Michigan University, Robert Bullock, was Berry Gordy's nephew, and he encouraged the group to audition for Motown.


Image


The guy at Motown Junkies LOVES this record. He gives it 10/10 in a very long review. Here's the link if you'd like to read it.

https://motownjunkies.co.uk/2012/09/12/527/


Image


Okay, song #114 is up now. This one is the first of 6 songs from 1976 to make the countdown.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0IRdFkNQ00

User avatar
mileswide
Rust Never Sleeps
Posts: 745
Joined: Wed May 01, 2019 5:08 pm
Location: Nottingham, England

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by mileswide » Sat Nov 02, 2019 2:40 pm

Hymie wrote:
Sat Nov 02, 2019 1:45 pm
The guy at Motown Junkies LOVES this record. He gives it 10/10 in a very long review. Here's the link if you'd like to read it.
It's a sassy classic with faux-insouciant backing vocals but I don't get the disparity between his score for this and the one for Needle in a Haystack, which for me is the better record.
Starry-eyed and laughing as I recall when we were caught

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Sat Nov 02, 2019 6:17 pm

mileswide wrote:
Sat Nov 02, 2019 2:40 pm
Hymie wrote:
Sat Nov 02, 2019 1:45 pm
The guy at Motown Junkies LOVES this record. He gives it 10/10 in a very long review. Here's the link if you'd like to read it.
It's a sassy classic with faux-insouciant backing vocals but I don't get the disparity between his score for this and the one for Needle in a Haystack, which for me is the better record.
Hard to figure him out.

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Sat Nov 02, 2019 6:26 pm

Song #114 is "I Want You" by Marvin Gaye, from 1976. This one surprised me, as I have not heard the record more than a few times in my life. Of course in 1976 I was very busy discovering 1950s music, and not paying any attention to what was then current. It was a #1 record on the Billboard Black Chart, and it peaked at #15 Pop. This one came from the album of the same name.

Gaye recorded the album during 1975 and 1976 at his studio Marvin's Room in Los Angeles and at Motown's Detroit-based Hitsville West studio. The album has often been noted by critics for producer Leon Ware's exotic, low-key production and the erotic, sexual themes in his and Gaye's songwriting. The album's cover artwork adapts neo-mannerist artist Ernie Barnes's famous painting The Sugar Shack (1971).


Image


The song "I Want You" was written by songwriters Leon Ware and Arthur "T-Boy" Ross. The song introduced a change in musical styles for Gaye, who before then had been recording songs with a funk edge. Songs such as this gave him a disco audience thanks to Ware, who produced the song alongside Gaye.

The song was a fusion of different genres, an unusual mix for Gaye. The instrumentation included strings, then an important ingredient to soul and disco-styled music in the seventies, bongos, bell tree, percussive congas added a jazz feel to the song, the bass guitar notes and guitar riffs bring in a funk ingredient, while additional guitar (provided by Ray Parker Jr., by now a Los Angeles session musician) put in an added rock element. Gaye's lead vocals brought in both falsetto and a gospel approach near the ending coda of the song. Additional vocals, later added to Gaye's deluxe edition re-issue of I Want You, showcase two different lead vocal takes by Marvin. The background vocals, all sung by Gaye, recalled Marvin's early doo-wop roots.


Image


Moving along with the countdown, song #113 is one that Marvin Gaye produced for another Motown act.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXKcl4lh55o

User avatar
Father2TheMan
Let's Get It On
Posts: 187
Joined: Sat May 27, 2017 8:40 am

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Father2TheMan » Sat Nov 02, 2019 8:28 pm

Hymie wrote:
Fri Nov 01, 2019 8:49 pm
Song #118 is "Funny" by the Contours, from 1961. This one was NOT a hit, not even close, but it is a revered record among many doo wop collectors. Here's the MOTOWN JUNKIES review of this one. This will REALLY piss off some friends of mine.

The Contours: “Funny”
Motown M 1012 (B), August

It’s awful. :o

{snip}

Yeah. Anyway, Sylvester Potts’ singing on this record actually, genuinely sounds like cats fighting in an alley.

{snip}

A bad, bad, bad, bad, bad record


Pretty harsh but I have to admit I didn't really care for it.
"The laughs come hard in Old Lang Syne....."

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:31 pm

Song #113 is "The Bells" from the Originals, from 1970. It is a throwback record that sounds like doo wop from a much earlier time. It reached #4 on the Billboard Soul chart and #13 Pop. "The Bells" was written by Marvin Gaye, his wife Anna Gordy Gaye, Iris Gordy, and Elgie Stover. The Originals would continue to provide background vocals for Gaye until 1973.

The Originals, often called "Motown's best-kept secret", were a successful Motown R&B and soul group during the late 1960s and the 1970s, most notable for the hits "Baby, I'm For Real", "The Bells", and the disco classic "Down To Love Town." Formed in 1966, the group originally consisted of baritone singer Freddie Gorman, tenor/falsetto Walter Gaines, and tenors C. P. Spencer and Hank Dixon (and briefly Joe Stubbs). Ty Hunter replaced Spencer when he left to go solo in the early 1970s. They had all previously sung in other Detroit groups, Spencer having been an original member of The (Detroit) Spinners and Hunter having sung with The Supremes member Scherrie Payne in the group Glass House. Spencer, Gaines, Hunter, and Dixon (at one time or another) were also members of The Voice Masters. As a member of the Holland–Dozier–Gorman writing-production team (before Holland–Dozier–Holland), Gorman (as a mailman) was one of the co-writers of Motown's first number 1 pop hit "Please Mr. Postman", recorded by The Marvelettes.

The group found success in the latter half of the 1960s as background singers for recordings by artists such as Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted", Stevie Wonder's "For Once in My Life" and "Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday", David Ruffin's "My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)", Marvin Gaye's "Chained" and "Just to Keep You Satisfied", Edwin Starr's "War" and "25 Miles", and many more. Much like The Andantes, Motown's in-house female backing group, The Originals are on countless Motown recordings but were never credited.


Image


Song #112 is next, and it's one that I am really upset about not making the Top 100 here. A classic record from 1970, and one of my favorites. It was #8 on my ballot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRQQudHLi0A

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Sun Nov 03, 2019 4:55 am

Song #112 is "It's A Shame" by the Spinners, from 1970. The single reached #4 on the Billboard R&B Chart, and #14 on their Pop chart, the Hot 100. The song co-written by Stevie Wonder, Syreeta Wright and Lee Garrett and produced by Wonder. For me it's the best record that Stevie Wonder wrote. The second best for me is "Tell Me Something Good" by Rufus. I like both of these better than ANY of Stevie's own records.

The lineup of the Spinners at this time include original members Pervis Jackson, Henry Fambrough, Billy Henderson and Bobby Smith and lead vocalist G.C. Cameron. The song was the first song Stevie Wonder produced for another act by himself. Cameron, who was having an affair with Gwen Gordy (sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy) decided to stay in Motown and the group hired Cameron's cousin Philippé Wynne to replace him. Later, Cameron moved with the Gordys to Los Angeles, and stayed with Motown for over a decade.


Image


Up next is song #111, from 1967:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vmJ-s23UFY

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Sun Nov 03, 2019 2:08 pm

Song #111 is "The Love I Saw In You Was Just A Mirage" from Smokey & the Miracles in 1967. For those who care about lyrics this is supposed to be one of Smokey's real triumphs. He wrote the song along with Miracles guitarist Marv Tarplin. The single was a Top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, and a Top 10 hit on Billboard's R&B singles chart. As with several of the Miracles' hits, "Mirage" begins with Tarplin's guitar and he plays the riff on a 12-string acoustic guitar. The song's lyrics feature Robinson's character as a man deceived by the beauty of a woman who showed "the promise of love", but then sadly discovered that her love was "just a mirage".


Image


RANK-BALLOTS-POINTS-TITLE-ARTIST
111 - 05-187 - The Love I Saw In You Was Just A Mirage - Miracles
112 - 05-186 - It's A Shame - Spinners
113 - 05-185 - The Bells - Originals
114 - 06-184 - I Want You - Marvin Gaye
115 - 07-180 - He Was Really Sayin' Somethin' - Velvelettes
116 - 04-180 - Forever - Marvelettes
117 - 05-169 - Love Child - Supremes
118 - 04-168 - Funny - Contours
119 - 06-165 - How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) - Marvin Gaye
120 - 05-161 - Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart - Supremes
121 - 04-161 - Way Over There - Miracles
122 - 03-161 - Who's Lovin' You - Jackson 5
123 - 04-157 - Stubborn Kind of Fellow - Marvin Gaye
124 - 06-156 - Standing In The Shadows of Love - Four Tops
125 - 04-156 - Walk Away Renee - Four Tops
126 - 05-155 - Easy- Commodores
127 - 05-155 - Don't Look Back - Temptations
128 - 03-154 - Function at the Junction - Shorty Long
129 - 05-149 - If I Were Your Woman - Gladys Knight & Pips
130 - 05-147 - Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
131 - 04-142 - Playboy - Marvelettes
132 - 04-142 - You'll Lose A Precious Love - Temptations
133 - 04-142 - Master Blaster (Jammin’) - Stevie Wonder
134 - 05-139 - You're A Wonderful One - Marvin Gaye
135 - 04-139 - Friendship Train - Gladys Knight & Pips
136 - 04-136 - I Hear A Symphony - Supremes
137 - 03-136 - The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game - Marvelettes
138 - 03-135 - Paradise - Temptations
139 - 05-134 - (I'm A) Road Runner - Jr. Walker & The All-Stars
140 - 05-131 - Quicksand - Martha & The Vandellas
141 - 03-131 - I'm Gonna Make You Love Me - Supremes and Temptations
142 - 03-131 - Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You) - Stevie Wonder
143 - 02-130 - You’re My Desire – Equadors
144 - 02-128 - Walk Away From Love - David Ruffin
145 - 02-125 - A Favor For a Girl - Brenda Holloway
146 - 03-124 - I'll Turn To Stone - Four Tops
147 - 03-124 - Hello - Lionel Richie
148 - 04-123 - Too Busy Thinking About My Baby - Marvin Gaye
149 - 03-123 - Would I Love You - Miracles
150 - 04-119 - Seven Rooms of Gloom - Four Tops
151 - 03-117 - A Fork In The Road - Miracles
152 - 05-115 - You Are the Sunshine of My Life - Stevie Wonder
153 - 04-115 - I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever) - Stevie Wonder
154 - 03-114 - Reflections - Supremes
155 - 02-114 - Square Biz - Teena Marie
156 - 04-113 - Two Lovers - Mary Wells
157 - 03-111 - The Only One I Love - Miracles
==================================================================================


Song #110 is next. Another one that I would like to have seen make the top 100, from 1963.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nrz_NoYskJ4

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Sun Nov 03, 2019 7:46 pm

We just heard song #110 on the countdown, "Pride And Joy" from Marvin Gaye in 1963. It was listed on 6 ballots, including mine. This one was a huge hit in the blsck community, reaching #2 on the Billboard R&B chart. It also cracked the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, Marvin's first top 10 crossover hit. The song was written by William "Mickey" Stevenson, Gaye and Norman Whitfield, and produced by Stevenson. It was considered to be a tribute to Gaye's then-girlfriend, Anna Gordy. When The Beatles first arrived in New York City in 1964, they requested Murray the K play the song on his radio station.

The song was also the third straight (and last) single to include Martha and the Vandellas in background vocals just weeks before "Heat Wave" made the girl group one of the high-tier Motown acts. The album version of the single featured on Gaye's second album, That Stubborn Kinda Fellow is different in parts to the single version presenting a more jazz effect than the gospel-emulated version that became a single. Here's the album version. The second half of it is very different than the hit single.


Here's the MOTOWN JUNKIES review:

Marvin Gaye: “Pride And Joy”
Tamla T 54079 (A), April 1963


Welcome to the Top Ten, Marvin Pentz Gay Jr. We’ve been expecting you.

The beginning stages of Marvin’s career provide probably the most interesting story arc of the early years of Motown, and it’s been fascinating to track his development from session drummer and would-be crooner to charismatic, dynamic star. It had taken him the best part of two years to learn some harsh commercial lessons: that the young, affluent crossover (i.e. white) audience he wanted to sell to didn’t exist any more, that teenagers weren’t screaming after crooners, that if he wanted to make it big with that crowd he’d have to get up and dance.

During that time, though, he’d also been on a journey of self-discovery. Marvin’s often petulant, moody nature had a habit of spilling over into pigheaded stubbornness, the young vocalist locking horns with label owner Berry Gordy Jr. far more often than would have ever been tolerated from anyone who wasn’t dating Gordy’s sister, most often over the two men’s contrasting opinions on what direction Gaye’s career would take. Gordy wanted him to become the R&B star he was so obviously born to be; Gaye flatly refused to “shake his ass on stage”, considering Gordy’s plan a stupid idea which was beneath him. This disagreement escalated into a stalemate which saw Gaye sticking steadfastly to his guns, pushing Motown to release all manner of turgid MOR dreck (the nadir being reached in January 1962 with the appearance of his frankly nasty cover of the Chordettes’ Mr Sandman), none of which sold more than a handful of copies. Marvin, setting a pattern for his future years, wasn’t about to back down and admit he’d made a mistake, thus keeping his light hidden under a bushel far longer than was necessary before finally conceding the point.

Even that was something that only happened after Marvin – fed up and broke after a string of flop singles, and with Gordy’s patience wearing thin – had finally deigned to put some effort into making a commercial R&B record to shut the label brass up for a bit and keep the wolf from the door. To nobody’s surprise but his own, Marvin discovered he was not only a talented songwriter, but also – egged on by Mickey Stevenson and Clarence Paul, and nurtured by backing vocalists Gloria Jean Williamson, Annette Beard, Rosalind Ashford and Martha Reeves, later famous as the Vandellas – a phenomenal natural R&B talent. Star quality was in Marvin’s blood, as he’d always felt it obviously was; it was just a different kind of star quality, the type that would lead to millions of sales and two decades of adoration. All that was missing now was a big crossover hit record, and Pride And Joy provided him with it (going Top Ten pop, and a splendid #2 R&B).

To be fair, this couldn’t miss. This is Marvin’s best vocal to date, and if it’s a more straightforward, less beguiling song than his former high water mark (the aforementioned artistic breakthrough of the previous summer, Stubborn Kind Of Fellow, which was also his first charting record), it makes up for it by being almost irresistably catchy; it’s simple, direct, almost frothy, but filled with joy (the title was well chosen), it practically has “hit single” written all over it. Radio, black and white, lapped it up.

The track was written back when Stubborn Kind Of Fellow was still climbing the charts, and recorded in September of ’62 at the same time as the less interesting Hitch Hike (released that December as a follow-up single to Stubborn… and actually outselling it). It’s notable for being Marvin’s first collaboration with young songwriter and future producer Norman Whitfield, who would come to figure prominently in his life later in the decade.

A rollicking piano-led jam, with some remarkable bass courtesy of James Jamerson, Pride And Joy was both a dated piece, and ahead of its time; its boogie-woogie rhythm and circular structure, and its brassy accoutrements, called back to an earlier time when rock and roll ruled the airwaves. On the other hand, while there’s nothing groundbreaking going on here and the track remains almost basic in its simplistic groove, the incorporation of jazz elements alongside the more obvious hints of gospel (the liner notes to The Complete Motown Singles: Volume 3 have Joe Hunter, who played the tinkling piano that anchors the record, namechecking Wes Montgomery as an influence), the “clean” recording, the superb musicianship, the judicious handclaps, crotchet notes, and that entrancing, bouncing bass… these all look forward to the kind of well-crafted tracks Motown would very shortly come to be known for. Started and finished on the same day (foreshadowing Marvin’s career-long talent for rattling off quality new material once he could be persuaded to actually attend a studio), once in the can Pride And Joy was marked as a keeper, useful to have to hand in the future, something that might make a fine album track, B-side or even a single if new material was in short supply.

But then, an interesting thing happened; as the sales kept rising, and the live fees venues were willing to pay him started going up, and Marvin Gaye moved away from being a lounge club crooner and towards becoming a famous pop star, someone decided that there was still more to come from this song. As first Stubborn Kind Of Fellow and then Hitch Hike became hits, casting Gaye in a decidedly pop/R&B mould for both live audiences and radio listeners, Motown decided to release an album to cash in on his rising popularity.

Marvin's second album, 'That Stubborn Kinda Fellow', on which an early version of this song appears.For the LP, entitled That Stubborn Kinda Fellow, released in the winter of 1962, Marvin’s slightly shaky, plodding original vocal was discarded in favour of a stronger, more confident re-take. When Motown decided to pull Pride And Joy from the album for a single release in the spring of 1963, Marvin went back to the studio again, laying down yet another lead vocal (making at least three different versions that I know of, all over the top of the exact same backing track, and there are probably more of them out there that I haven’t got). Happily, they could stop with the do-overs after this 7″ hit the stores, because this is by far the best lead vocal of the whole bunch.

It’s obvious from the very first line. You are my pride and joy; on the face of it, there’s not much to be done with that, especially as the rhythm and tempo of the song seemingly pretty much compel a singer to go with the flow, landing heavily on the beat. Instead, Marvin grabs the attention with a particularly outlandish delivery; stretching out the first You over several bars, doing the same with Are but dropping down a note halfway through, and then bringing it back upwards again with a similarly elongated my-YY before running through Pride and joy at much quicker speed. Instant hook, just add Martha and Vandellas.

(The girls’ stint in the summer of 1962 as Motown’s house backing vocalists was drawing to a close by the time this was recorded, meaning Marvin – who valued their ability to extemporise, and who fed off their ad-libs for his own performances – had likely needed to specially request their presence at the original session. If so, it was well worth the effort, as they turn in another quite splendid performance. It’s unclear as to whether they were roped in for the remakes, or whether producer Mickey Stevenson just kept their vocals on tape from the first go-around; by the time this 7″ version was cut in April 1963 (less than a month before release!), Martha and the Vandellas had begun their own recording career in earnest and so might well have been too busy to keep revisiting such old territory.)

It’s not complicated, musically or lyrically, but it is the most instant, danceable, fun thing Marvin Gaye had yet created; it’s all but impossible not to start tapping or clicking or nodding along when it starts up, and the call-and-response bits between Marvin and the Vandellas –

(you’re my! Pride and joy! I believe I’m your! Baby boy!)

– get stuck in your head for hours after the record’s finished. Marvin’s really in his element, too, something that simply wasn’t the case on Hitch Hike, alternating between an attractive raspy gruffness and a smoother, Smokey Robinson-style freeform departure from the anchoring backing vocals; put simply, Marvin Gaye, the Marvin Gaye we all know, had arrived.

In doing so, he joined a burgeoning group of Motown artists finding their true voices, the familiar-to-millions mid-Sixties voices, during the spring and early summer of 1963. The hint of desperation heard on Stubborn Kind Of Fellow has been replaced with an almost cocky confidence, and yet he still manages to sound likeable, even vulnerable, as he puts some real emotion into his delivery. Supposedly, the whole song is a reflection of Marvin’s feelings towards Anna Gordy; you can believe it, too. The off-the-cuff And I’m tellin’ the world just before the verse kicks in sounds like it could have been an ad-lib; he sounds so into what he’s doing, it’s positively infectious. If you’re humming it to yourself as you read this, I bet you’re smiling too.

MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
8/10


Image


Song #109 is up now, as we head toward our top 100 Motown Songs. Is Everybody Ready?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StvhPh1tNDQ

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Mon Nov 04, 2019 12:04 am

Doing Mickey's Monkey Children! Song #109 is "Mickey Monkey" from the Miracles in 1963. . It was written and produced by Motown's main songwriting team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland, who later went on to write 2 more Miracles hit singles, the Top 40 "I Gotta Dance to Keep From Crying", and the Top 20 "(Come 'Round Here) I'm The One You Need". This was unusual, as most Miracles songs were composed by the group members themselves.

Described by Miracles lead singer Smokey Robinson as "One of our biggest records ever in life", "Mickey's Monkey" was a Billboard Top 10 Pop smash, reaching #8 on that chart, and a Top 10 R&B hit as well, reaching #3. One of the group's most powerful singles, it was also the Miracles' third million selling record in as many years, after "Shop Around" (1961) and "You've Really Got A Hold On Me" (1962).

A comical story about "A cat named Mickey from out of town" who "spread his new dance all around", the song helped popularize "The Monkey" as a national dance craze in the early 1960s. In the Motown DVD release, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: The Definitive Performances, Smokey exclaimed that this song began when he spotted Lamont Dozier playing the song's initial chords on the piano at the Motown studios one day. (It has been described by many rock historians as having a beat influenced by the music of Bo Diddley). While playing, Dozier was singing the song's famous chorus: "Lum de lum de lai-ai". Intrigued, Smokey then requested that Lamont record it for The Miracles, at the time Motown's top group, to which Lamont agreed. Recorded in the Motown studios with an intended "live party" feel, the song has Smokey start with the now-famous line: "Alright . . . Is everybody ready ?" followed by affirmative background shouts and applause. In addition to The Miracles' contribution, "Mickey's Monkey" also featured background vocals by Mary Wilson of The Supremes, famed Detroit Dee Jay "Jockey Jack" Gibson, Martha & The Vandellas, and members of The Temptations and The Marvelettes. One of the most famous of the early Motown hits, "Mickey's Monkey" was often used by The Miracles as their closing song on the legendary "Motortown Revue" touring shows in the early 1960s, where it usually "brought the house down".

The recording begins with Smokey Robinson asking: "Alright, is everybody ready?", to which the crowd, in unison, responds enthusiastically "Yes!". This is followed by Smokey saying "Alright now, here we go. A one, a two, a one, two, three, four", before the drum issue in the chorus.

The MOTOWN JUNKIES review link - https://motownjunkies.co.uk/2011/02/25/326/


Image


Song #108 is up next. This is the one song that I am most upset about not making the top 100 here. It's a classic, a huge hit, and one that was very important to me personally as it was out during my first year of really paying attention to music on the radio. This was number one for 2 weeks on the Billboard Soul chart and in the top 5 on their Pop chart, the Hot 100. The intro alone is fucking sensational!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZK3gllwOa8

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Mon Nov 04, 2019 4:37 am

Song #108 is "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)" by Jr. Walker and the All-Stars from 1969. This was a huge hit all through the late spring and summer of 1969. The song was written by Johnny Bristol, Harvey Fuqua, and Vernon Bullock. The harmony vocals on the record are by Bristol and the Andantes. The extended intro and saxophone solo have influenced the works of David Sanborn, Clarence Clemons and Bobby Keys.


Image


Song #107 is up now. This one was never that big with me, but lots of people consider it to be a really great record.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8fs4TH9zIg

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:19 pm

Song #107 is "I'll Try Something New" from the Miracles in 1962. The record was a Billboard Top 40 hit, peaking at #39, and just missed the Top 10 of its R&B chart, peaking at #11.

In the song, the narrator (Smokey Robinson) describes how if he feels that if his first attempt at trying to show his lover affection was not good enough, then he'd try something new to keep their love alive:

“I will build you a castle with a tower so high it reaches the Moon. I'll gather melodies from birdies that fly and compose you a tune. Give you lovin' warm as Mama's oven, and if that don't do, then I'll try something new.”

The Miracles issued the original version of the song in 1962, and with wife and fellow Miracles member Claudette's voice clearly audible in the chorus (hey Venus...). Smokey and Motown founder Berry Gordy produced the song with an Oriental feel to it, with unusually lush-for-the-period orchestration and sweeping strings, showcasing The Miracles' harmonies and Robinson's production style.


Image


Here's the MOTOWN JUNKIES review:

The Miracles: “I’ll Try Something New”
Tamla T 54059 (A), April 1962



It would be trite to say that Smokey Robinson really came into his own as a songwriter in 1962; after all, he’d written plenty of excellent songs before then, including a few bona fide greats (such as Way Over There and Everybody’s Gotta Pay Some Dues, both of which would surely merit a place in any Smokey best-of). However, it was in 1962 that he moved from being a young Detroit writer with an ever-thickening sheaf of fine songs under his belt, to being one of the best songwriters in America.

Having been assigned to a writer-producer gig with Mary Wells by the Motown top brass, Smokey’s immediate, innate understanding of rhythm and melody found a new outlet; given the producer’s role for the first time, required to work closely with the Funk Brothers as well as Miracles guitarist Marv Tarplin, the ideas started coming thick and fast, initially finding expression in calypso-tinged balladry. The resultant flood of new ideas not only resulted in hits for Wells (The One Who Really Loves You was already on its way up the charts) but also for Smokey’s own group, the Miracles, who landed a sixth straight R&B Top 20 placing with this gorgeous song, the first truly great Miracles ballad.

The Miracles' third album, also titled 'I'll Try Something New'.The influence of Smokey’s writing and production work with Mary Wells is immediately apparent right from the off, with brushed drums (rather than bongos) striking up a similar pseudo-calypso rhumba tempo – but this is altogether more amibitious than any of the songs Robinson would cut on Wells in 1962, in large part thanks to Riley C. Hampton’s orchestral arrangement, illustrated straight away when one of the first sounds presented to the listener is a full-size harp (the first prominent appearance of that instrument on a Motown record), followed by a lush, layered bank of strings and musical flourishes. It’s quite lovely.

It’s not to simply say that this is one of Smokey’s best songs (though it manifestly is that); it’s that it shows Smokey as one of the very best. While I hate it when people dispassionately dissect a great pop record – like sticking a pin in a beautiful butterfly just to look at it on display on a board, missing out on seeing it do what it was meant to do in the first place – I do think it’s important to go a little bit deeper, to really get to grips with what’s happening here.

There’s a great bit in Nelson George’s Where Did Our Love Go? where Smokey talks about his development as a songwriter; dismissing the famous notebook containing “over a hundred songs” he’d written in his mid-teens before ever meeting Berry Gordy (most of which were discarded – “I had songs that went all over the place… I thought if you rhymed something, that was a song”), he couches that development in terms of lyrics, not melody. Melodies, he could do. Just like Paul McCartney over in England, his natural gifts for finding the right tempo and tune were already there, even if (again like McCartney) his ideas and arrangements would grow bolder and more complex as he developed as a songwriter; the bedrock, the innate “feel” for a good tune, was there from the start. It was in the realm of the lyrics where things didn’t just naturally come together as he extemporized, where he needed to actually knuckle down and work. So Smokey Robinson knuckled down and worked, and became Motown’s best lyricist.

His gifts eventually extended not just to writing excellent words, not just to writing words which were emotionally appropriate for the singer they were intended for, but to actually choosing words that he thought they’d sound good singing, that would suit both their voices and their pronunciation; paying attention to everything that was going to be coming out of someone’s mouth.

As for his own records, he was rapidly learning what he could sell and what he couldn’t, and then playing to those strengths. I’ll Try Something New, heartbreaking and magnificent, is a case in point. Play this one side-to-side with the Miracles’ first Motown single, Bad Girl, another dreamy ballad released two and a half years previously, and two things become apparent. Firstly, that (even though this is where I’d normally say something like “The difference is amazing, it sounds like ten years, blah blah blah”) there’s not so much difference between the songs in terms of structure. I’ll Try Something New is smoother, more refined, more delicately fashioned, but the actual skeleton is very similar. Secondly, the two records still sound completely different, and that’s down to the arrangement and – crucially – the words. The story, the match of singer and lyrics, the almost-desperate tension in Smokey’s voice, all these things combine to make this a mini-masterpiece.

The “story” features Smokey’s narrator, hopelessly, totally in love (and believably so, thanks to his skill as a lyricist), offering to do a succession of crazy things in the hope of impressing her with his dedication, and then (in the song’s killer hook) offering to go even further – “and if that don’t do, I’ll try something new”. You know he would, too.

The first draft of these lyrics was supposedly scrawled on the back of a bag of popcorn by Smokey after inspiration struck halfway through a Detroit Tigers baseball game, but it doesn’t show. Some of the images on display are among the most arresting, the most memorable of any Motown record; Smokey’s proposed feats of romantic achievement range from the specatularly improbable to the warmly ordinary, often in the same couplet (“I will bring you a flower from the floor of the sea, to wear in your hair / I’ll do anything and everything to keep you happy, girl, to show you that I care”), and frankly, if you don’t come out in goosebumps when he sings “Well, on the moon above, I’ll write it’s YOU that I love”, I think there’s something wrong with you.

It’s a tour de force; it’s easy to say “I’d do anything for you” (look, I just said it right there), but that carries no weight. Far harder to spell out just what that means, and harder still to spend a whole song doing it, and even harder again to make it completely believable – but that’s Smokey Robinson the songwriter at his best, making the impossible possible.

Meanwhile, Smokey Robinson the lead vocalist is on great form, too, his soaring falsetto now developed to the point he was well aware of its limits and range; he swoops around with great ease at the top of his register both for the airy, dreamlike verses and the plaintive “if” in “and if that don’t do” in the chorus. The effect is magical, but it’s made better because of the lyrics he’s singing.

The record isn’t quite perfect – it’s let down by a slightly poor production (handled jointly by Smokey and Berry Gordy Jr., the first time Smokey himself was behind the glass for a Miracles session) which muffles some of the finest moments of both Smokey and the orchestra – but it is marvellous, and full of wonder.

For the next two years, Smokey would be unquestionably Motown’s number one songwriting talent; for the Miracles, their place in history was already assured.

MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
10/10



Image


RANK-BALLOTS-POINTS-TITLE-ARTIST
107 - 04-191 - I'll Try Something New - Miracles
108 - 04-190 - What Does It Take (To Win Your Love) - Jr. Walker & The All-Stars
109 - 06-189 - Mickey's Monkey - Miracles
110 - 06-189 - Pride And Joy - Marvin Gaye
111 - 05-187 - The Love I Saw In You Was Just A Mirage - Miracles
112 - 05-186 - It's A Shame - Spinners
113 - 05-185 - The Bells - Originals
114 - 06-184 - I Want You - Marvin Gaye
115 - 07-180 - He Was Really Sayin' Somethin' - Velvelettes
116 - 04-180 - Forever - Marvelettes
117 - 05-169 - Love Child - Supremes
118 - 04-168 - Funny - Contours
119 - 06-165 - How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) - Marvin Gaye
120 - 05-161 - Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart - Supremes
121 - 04-161 - Way Over There - Miracles
122 - 03-161 - Who's Lovin' You - Jackson 5
123 - 04-157 - Stubborn Kind of Fellow - Marvin Gaye
124 - 06-156 - Standing In The Shadows of Love - Four Tops
125 - 04-156 - Walk Away Renee - Four Tops
126 - 05-155 - Easy- Commodores
127 - 05-155 - Don't Look Back - Temptations
128 - 03-154 - Function at the Junction - Shorty Long
129 - 05-149 - If I Were Your Woman - Gladys Knight & Pips
130 - 05-147 - Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
131 - 04-142 - Playboy - Marvelettes
132 - 04-142 - You'll Lose A Precious Love - Temptations
133 - 04-142 - Master Blaster (Jammin’) - Stevie Wonder
134 - 05-139 - You're A Wonderful One - Marvin Gaye
135 - 04-139 - Friendship Train - Gladys Knight & Pips
136 - 04-136 - I Hear A Symphony - Supremes
137 - 03-136 - The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game - Marvelettes
138 - 03-135 - Paradise - Temptations
139 - 05-134 - (I'm A) Road Runner - Jr. Walker & The All-Stars
140 - 05-131 - Quicksand - Martha & The Vandellas
141 - 03-131 - I'm Gonna Make You Love Me - Supremes and Temptations
142 - 03-131 - Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You) - Stevie Wonder
143 - 02-130 - You’re My Desire – Equadors
144 - 02-128 - Walk Away From Love - David Ruffin
145 - 02-125 - A Favor For a Girl - Brenda Holloway
146 - 03-124 - I'll Turn To Stone - Four Tops
147 - 03-124 - Hello - Lionel Richie
148 - 04-123 - Too Busy Thinking About My Baby - Marvin Gaye
149 - 03-123 - Would I Love You - Miracles
150 - 04-119 - Seven Rooms of Gloom - Four Tops
151 - 03-117 - A Fork In The Road - Miracles
152 - 05-115 - You Are the Sunshine of My Life - Stevie Wonder
153 - 04-115 - I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever) - Stevie Wonder
154 - 03-114 - Reflections - Supremes
155 - 02-114 - Square Biz - Teena Marie
156 - 04-113 - Two Lovers - Mary Wells
157 - 03-111 - The Only One I Love - Miracles
===================================================================================

As we barrel our way towards the top 100, song #106 is next. Motion Picture Music from 1972.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kduvcqx-BU

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Mon Nov 04, 2019 7:45 pm

We heard Marvin Gaye and "Trouble Man" at #106. This was the theme song from the movie of the same name. It reached #4 on the Billboard Soul chart and #7 Pop. Gaye wrote the song himself, and he called it one of the most honest recordings he ever made. Gaye played drums and piano on the record as well as performing all the vocals himself, in which he sings most of the song in falsetto while reaching a gospel-styled growl during the bridges of the song. Marvin also recorded a slightly different version of the song primarily for the movie's opening, in which he sang in both tenor and falsetto.


Image


Song #105 is up now. It's one of just a handful of songs on this list that was not issued as a single.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0S4SiLxt1s

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Tue Nov 05, 2019 1:07 am

Song #105 is "Pastime Paradise" by Stevie Wonder. This one is from the "Songs In The Key of Life" album in 1976. The song was one of the first to use a synthesizer (the Yamaha GX-1) to sound like a full string section. Built initially from synth tracks rather than from a drummer setting the basic rhythm, the song is augmented with rhythm performances from Ray Maldonado, Bobbye Hall, and Wonder, and a persistent "chinging" bell pattern by Hare Krishna musicians. A gospel choir from West Angeles Church of God and Hare Krishna chanting group culminate in a multicultural finale.


Image


Song #104 is next. It's the highest ranking song on the countdown that was only listed on 3 ballots.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yFx3O1ioWo

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Tue Nov 05, 2019 5:23 am

Song #104 is "Envious" by Linda Griner. The record does not do much for me, but two of my old friends each had it number one on their ballots. That along with one other listing was enough to get the record to # 104 here. The record is from 1963. Our friend at MOTOWN JUNKIES gives it a good review:

Linda Griner: “Envious”
Motown M 1037 (B), January 1963


Linda Griner, who went on to have a long and successful recording career away from Motown as “Lyn Roman”, only ever released this pair of sides during her time at Hitsville – but plenty of other artists might be “envious” (ha ha!) of her short Motown stint, as she was taken under the wing of none other than Smokey Robinson, who supposedly wrote and produced an entire album’s worth of material for Linda.

Both sides of this single are a pleasant surprise. This showy ballad is an almost completely overlooked piece in Smokey’s oeuvre, but it’s a fine bit of work, pitched somewhere between Mary Wells’ enormous Strange Love, Little Anthony & the Imperials’ Tears On My Pillow, and just a touch of Patsy Cline’s then-recent hit version of Crazy, all blended together, run through the filter of Smokey Robinson the tunesmith, sanded to a fine gloss, and then treated to a finishing touch courtesy of Smokey Robinson the lyricist.

Throughout the song, Linda’s narrator chides a girl she knows for being – yes! – “envious”, because even though the narrator has a whole bunch of material stuff, she’s still miserable because she’s actually in love with this other girl’s boyfriend, and so the narrator’s actually envious of her. In a neat touch typical of its author, the song is actually sung to the boyfriend rather than the other girl.

This would have made a great single for Mary Wells, if the resounding commercial failure of the aforementioned Strange Love hadn’t put Motown off trying to cut any more big showy ballads on her. In her absence, Linda Griner again does well enough; even if her performance isn’t spectacular or individual, it’s good and strong, and filled with promise. For Motown, though, that promise would go unfulfilled.

There’s no reason this couldn’t have done well in 1963 as an A-side, but the single sank without trace and so radio never really got the chance to flip the record over and find it. A pity; between this and the topside, this is a fine single that really deserved better.

MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
7/10



Image


The only thing I can find by Lyn Roman that was ever on the charts is from 1986. She had a song called "Don't Look Back" that was an R&B chart hit on the Ichiban label. Don't know if it's the Temps song, as it is not on Youtube. The stuff by her that is on Youtube sounds a lot like Dionne Warwick.


Image


Song #103 is up now. A monster hit from 1969.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXGz8i0I2L0

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:14 pm

We just heard song #103, "Someday We'll Be Together," from 1969. On the label it says Diana Ross and the Supremes, but actually Ross was the only member of the group who was on this record. It was billed as the Supremes last single before Diana left to go solo. It was a Billboard number one single on both the Soul and Pop charts. The song written by Johnny Bristol, Jackey Beavers, and Harvey Fuqua in 1961. The first version of the song was done in 1961 by two of the songwriters under the name of Johnny And Jackey.


In 1969, Bristol was preparing a new version of "Someday We'll Be Together", to be recorded by Motown act Jr. Walker & the All-Stars. Bristol had already recorded the instrumental track and the background vocals when Berry Gordy happened upon the tracks and heard them. Gordy thought that "Someday" would be a perfect first solo single for Diana Ross, who was making her long-expected exit from the Supremes at the time, and had Bristol sequester Ross into the studio to record the song.

Unable at first to get the vocal performance he desired from Diana Ross, Johnny Bristol decided to try something different: he would harmonize with Ross, helping her to get into the mood needed for the record. On the first take, the engineer accidentally recorded both Ross's vocal and Bristol's ad-libs. Bristol and arranger Wade Marcus liked the results, and Bristol had his vocal recorded alongside Ross' for the final version of the song. Bristol's ad-libs and words of encouragement to Ross can be heard in the background throughout the song. When Berry Gordy heard the completed song, he decided to release it as the final Diana Ross & the Supremes song. Neither of the Supremes' remaining members, however, sang on the record. Ross's first solo single instead, released in early 1970, became "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)".

Even though the implicit subject of the song was that of Ross comforting a long-distance lover, "Someday We'll Be Together" allowed for other interpretations, one being that Ross and bandmates Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong would one day nostalgically "be together" again. Further, in concert, Ross would suggest that "someday, we'll be together" in regard to contemporary troubles like civil rights and the ongoing demonstrations and protests against the Vietnam War.


Image


RANK-BALLOTS-POINTS-TITLE-ARTIST
103 - 06-200 - Someday We'll Be Together - Supremes
104 - 03-196 - Envious - Linda Griner
105 - 06-194 - Pastime Paradise - Stevie Wonder
106 - 05-191 - Trouble Man - Marvin Gaye
107 - 04-191 - I'll Try Something New - Miracles
108 - 04-190 - What Does It Take (To Win Your Love) - Jr. Walker & The All-Stars
109 - 06-189 - Mickey's Monkey - Miracles
110 - 06-189 - Pride And Joy - Marvin Gaye
111 - 05-187 - The Love I Saw In You Was Just A Mirage - Miracles
112 - 05-186 - It's A Shame - Spinners
113 - 05-185 - The Bells - Originals
114 - 06-184 - I Want You - Marvin Gaye
115 - 07-180 - He Was Really Sayin' Somethin' - Velvelettes
116 - 04-180 - Forever - Marvelettes
117 - 05-169 - Love Child - Supremes
118 - 04-168 - Funny - Contours
119 - 06-165 - How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) - Marvin Gaye
120 - 05-161 - Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart - Supremes
121 - 04-161 - Way Over There - Miracles
122 - 03-161 - Who's Lovin' You - Jackson 5
123 - 04-157 - Stubborn Kind of Fellow - Marvin Gaye
124 - 06-156 - Standing In The Shadows of Love - Four Tops
125 - 04-156 - Walk Away Renee - Four Tops
126 - 05-155 - Easy- Commodores
127 - 05-155 - Don't Look Back - Temptations
128 - 03-154 - Function at the Junction - Shorty Long
129 - 05-149 - If I Were Your Woman - Gladys Knight & Pips
130 - 05-147 - Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
131 - 04-142 - Playboy - Marvelettes
132 - 04-142 - You'll Lose A Precious Love - Temptations
133 - 04-142 - Master Blaster (Jammin’) - Stevie Wonder
134 - 05-139 - You're A Wonderful One - Marvin Gaye
135 - 04-139 - Friendship Train - Gladys Knight & Pips
136 - 04-136 - I Hear A Symphony - Supremes
137 - 03-136 - The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game - Marvelettes
138 - 03-135 - Paradise - Temptations
139 - 05-134 - (I'm A) Road Runner - Jr. Walker & The All-Stars
140 - 05-131 - Quicksand - Martha & The Vandellas
141 - 03-131 - I'm Gonna Make You Love Me - Supremes and Temptations
142 - 03-131 - Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You) - Stevie Wonder
143 - 02-130 - You’re My Desire – Equadors
144 - 02-128 - Walk Away From Love - David Ruffin
145 - 02-125 - A Favor For a Girl - Brenda Holloway
146 - 03-124 - I'll Turn To Stone - Four Tops
147 - 03-124 - Hello - Lionel Richie
148 - 04-123 - Too Busy Thinking About My Baby - Marvin Gaye
149 - 03-123 - Would I Love You - Miracles
150 - 04-119 - Seven Rooms of Gloom - Four Tops
151 - 03-117 - A Fork In The Road - Miracles
152 - 05-115 - You Are the Sunshine of My Life - Stevie Wonder
153 - 04-115 - I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever) - Stevie Wonder
154 - 03-114 - Reflections - Supremes
155 - 02-114 - Square Biz - Teena Marie
156 - 04-113 - Two Lovers - Mary Wells
157 - 03-111 - The Only One I Love - Miracles
=====================================================================================


Song #102 is up. We go back to 1962 for this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvJk9ZLeUMM

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Tue Nov 05, 2019 7:15 pm

Song #102 is "Strange I Know" from the Marvelettes in 1962. This was released at the very end of 1962, entering the Billboard R&B charts in the final week of the year. It peaked at #10 on that chart and made it to #48 Pop. The guy at MOTOWN JUNKIES loves this record, and it's just okay to me, so I'll let him describe it:

The Marvelettes: “Strange I Know”
Tamla T 54072 (A), October 1962


Even though the superb Playboy LP had only been in the shops for three months, and even though that album was far from “mined out” in terms of promising could-be singles, Motown instead opted to issue this as the Marvelettes’ next single instead of picking a track from the album.

I think that context is pretty important here. Motown had already all but thrown away one of the loveliest tracks on Playboy, Someday, Someway, as a B-side; they would do the same with an even better one, Forever, the following year; they would leave a few other excellent songs on the LP, never to see the seven-inch light of day (stuff like I’m Hooked and Mix It Up, both of which I feel would have done well on the charts as A-sides).

Motown didn’t choose any of those as singles. Nor did they go for a brand-new recording; although Strange I Know would end up as the opening track on the Marvelettes’ fourth album, The Marvelous Marvelettes, released in February 1963, this song had actually been recorded during the marathon sessions for Playboy and inexplicably left off that album.

I say “inexplicably”, because this is one of my favourite records of all time.

Really, it is. Which leaves me in a bit of a bind. I’ve known this one was coming up for months. A few weeks ago, I decided to start awarding marks out of ten, partly to make it easier to indicate when I liked something, partly to provoke debate, but mainly as a bit of fun.

That was a bit strange in itself; I love Motown, especially stuff from the mid-Sixties Golden Age, and so the marks I give out are going to end up being higher, on average, than if I was just talking about a random selection of records – but I don’t want to give out so many top marks that it becomes meaningless.

There have been four occasions so far where I’ve felt compelled to break out the maximum ten out of ten for a record (the Supremes’ I Want A Guy, the Marvelettes’ own Please Mr Postman, the Temptations’ (You’re My) Dream Come True and the Miracles’ I’ll Try Something New); I mean, I’m trying not to hand them out like confetti, but there are some songs that I just adore, and I’m not going to hold back from giving big marks to great records just for the sake of maintaining a curve; at the same time, I still think it devalues it if you’re just giving out 10s willy-nilly. It’s hard work, this reviewing lark.

But this has to get full marks. (Sorry to ruin the suspense, if you were waiting to see what mark I gave it at the end.) This is my absolute favourite out of all of the Marvelettes’ records. Yes, even that one.

I like to think that someone at Motown felt the same way; having overlooked this for Playboy, I suspect A&R were going through Marvelettes offcuts to find filler for The Marvelous Marvelettes, recording of new material for which had all but finished the previous month; I believe they dug this out to refresh their memories, fell in love and decided it had to be released as a single, straight away. I like to think that, though I don’t know for sure.

Why do I love it so much? I love it because apart from its music –

– though that’s a really big “apart from”, isn’t it? This sounds fantastic. The Holland-Dozier-Gorman songwriting team, who would end up (once Brian Holland’s brother Eddie replaced Freddie Gorman less than a year later) conquering the world, turn in a beautiful, haunting tune, based around a lolloping bass riff, pretty guitar figure, rich, chiming background piano and almost military drum fills; it’s a majestic mix that just grabs your attention right away. With its riveting, chills-down-the-spine intro (which, dissected, turns out to be something akin to stop-time blues, packing its punch both through a pretty tune and unusual timing, bursting into the main song after three bars rather than the expected four) and its almost perfect chorus (It’s strange, I know – but that’s the way it goes, repeated throughout the song, including the opening and closing lines) there’s a strong argument to be made for this to be considered the best tune of any Motown record so far, and that’s before we get to Gladys Horton’s never-bettered lead vocal performance, which confirms the Marvelettes as Motown’s top act of 1962 in almost every respect. But I digress –

– apart from its music, I love it because it’s just so different from every other love song I’ve ever heard.

Indeed, it takes a while to even realise it’s a love song at all – and a love song it is – because it’s sung, in a stroke of absolute genius, from a unique perspective. First- and third-person love songs about how much the narrator loves some girl or guy are ten a penny. Mostly-second-person love songs which have the narrator dumping some other person for you, the listener, cast in the role of placeholder for the new object of their affections, listing their faults and/or your virtues, aren’t unheard of. But in this one, the whole song is the narrator telling her bloke she’s chucking him – you, the listener – because she’s found the true love of her life, and you’re not it.

Now, there are wheels within wheels here – the story, bluntly told, is that the narrator’s boyfriend has been away for a long time (we’re not informed as to why – military service? Extended holiday? Working in another town? – but the writers deftly avoid clunky exposition by not having Gladys relate information that “our” character, and therefore the listener, would already know in such a situation), and in his absence, and due to him not having bothered to write or phone, her loneliness turned to affection for another (shades of Martha and the Vandellas’ Jimmy Mack, recorded two years later):

Oh how I tried to resist him / But my heart told me to keep him

(I’ve always thought that the most obvious line there was “kiss him”, not “keep him” – perhaps there was some censorship involved?)

…and their relationship has blossomed to the point where she’s about to marry her new guy. The song, then, is Gladys’ explanation to her ex as to what’s occurred in his absence, insofar as such things can be explained – it all boils down to “you can’t fight true love”. She doesn’t even really apologise – I’m sorry to say that my love has faded, faded away is the closest she gets – because she clearly doesn’t feel the need to.

Most great love songs hinge on the idea that some sort of Platonic ideal of perfect love exists, that when you find it you just know, that there’s nothing you can do, it’s a force of nature that can’t be fought, and that it can happen to anyone at any time. For me, this song is about just such a story, in all its beautiful, perfect glory – and it is beautiful and perfect, Gladys Horton surrendering to fate in a performance that deserves as much acclaim for her acting as for her vocal ability, so much that it still brings me out in goosebumps even now, after I’ve heard it literally hundreds of times – but it forces the listener to play an unfamiliar part: the role of the jilted guy who now has to go on and find his perfect love.

Sorry, I’ve got to interrupt all this literary analysis and play the record some more, before we lose sight of the fact that it’s a wonderful pop single. Hang on.

Right, that’s better. Anyway. This song is unusual because although it’s about a perfect relationship, that perfect relationship isn’t the story between the protagonists, it’s between the narrator and someone else, and the narrator is relaying it back to us, an outsider.

As both an observer and a casualty of the narrator’s blissful romance, we don’t get the full story, as we’re told that’s contained in a letter (the writers, the then-hot Holland-Dozier-Gorman trio, cannily spare us the real breakup note, devising a structure whereby they can leave most of the nuts and bolts detail out, trusting us to take it as read that it’s a heartfelt mixture of apology and kiss-off), giving rise to some of the most emotive lines in any Motown song:

When you get home
I’ll be gone
Ask my mother for your letter
That I put aside
When you finish the letter
I’ll be Eddie’s bride

God, I love this record. A song about the inexplicable joy of falling in love and knowing it, with the music and Gladys Horton’s lead vocal all helping carry the point home; you can almost hear the shrug in her voice, knowing that simply saying it’s strange, I know, but that’s the way it goes is at once both completely insufficient and also the only thing that can be said.

And that’s why, for my money, it’s one of the greatest of all Motown love songs, if not one of the outright best Motown singles, ever, full stop. I’d put it in my top twenty, at the absolute minimum.

(Lest that sound like damning with faint praise – I can’t pick a favourite, physically can’t do it, and even if I could it would change the very next day as soon as I heard one of the other contenders. Out of more than three thousand Motown songs, top twenty is as high as I’m willing to put anything, and with great difficulty; even compiling a top fifty involves too many arbitrary choices, sacrificing too many records that on their day could be number one. There won’t be very many more 10s awarded than that here. “But hold on”, alert readers may be saying round about now, “does that mean you’re saying this, this record most people – even people who consider themselves casual Motown fans – have never even heard of, could potentially be the best Motown single ever?” Yes, is the answer. Yes, it could. In my world, anyway.)

Obviously, then, this astonishing, wonderful, beautiful, perfect single was the one which arrested the Marvelettes’ hitherto-unstoppable progress up the charts; it brushed the R&B Top Ten, but only just dented the Pop Top 50, a relative failure and all but the end of the girls’ time as Motown’s top female group. It goes without saying that this record deserved better than that.

But sales aren’t everything. This is the best record the Marvelettes ever made, and – like the Supremes’ aforementioned I Want A Guy – I don’t care if I’m the only person who thinks so. Magnificent, and beautiful, and forever.

MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
10/10



Image


Time for song #101 now. This one just missed the Top 100 by a mere 3 points. Motown meets Phil Spector!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UE9QjdVMFkQ

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Wed Nov 06, 2019 12:03 am

Image


Song #101 is "When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes" by the Supremes, from 1963. The single is notable as the first Supremes single written and produced by Holland–Dozier–Holland, who had previously created hits for Martha and the Vandellas and Mary Wells. The song reached #2 on the Cash Box R&B chart, and got to #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop chart.

Struggling to find producers who could give the Supremes a successful hit after both he and Smokey Robinson had failed, Motown CEO Berry Gordy decided to have the team of Holland–Dozier–Holland, who would end up being the dominant songwriting and producing team of Motown, produce a song for the Supremes. "Lovelight" would eventually be released after Gordy's Quality Control Department approved of the song.

The MOTOWN JUNKIES review of this one is like a dissertation. If anyone wants to read it, here is the link.

https://motownjunkies.co.uk/2011/04/26/354/

Personnel
Lead vocals by Diana Ross
Background vocals by Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson
Additional vocals (growling before instrumental) by: The Four Tops (Levi Stubbs, Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Lawrence Payton and Renaldo "Obie" Benson) and Holland–Dozier–Holland (Edward "Eddie" Holland, Jr., Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland)
Instrumentation by The Funk Brothers
Written by Holland–Dozier–Holland
Produced by Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland
============================================================================================


Okay, we have arrived at the top 100 Motown songs, as we voted them!

THIS is #100.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uQCJ6PzRdA

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Wed Nov 06, 2019 5:16 am

Image


We kicked off our top 100 with a Stevie classic, You Haven't Done Nothin'" from 1974. It checks in at #100. The song is from the album "Fulfillingness' First Finale" and features background vocals by The Jackson 5. The politically aware song became Wonder's fourth Number 1 pop hit and his tenth Number 1 soul hit. In the UK the single spent five weeks on the chart, peaking at Number 30. The song was one of his angriest political statements and was aimed squarely at President Richard Nixon, who resigned two days after the record's release. The Jackson Five sing the words "Doo da wop!" repeatedly in the chorus, when Wonder sings "Jackson 5, join along with me, say". The song also features a thick clavinet track and an early appearance of the drum machine.


Image


Song #99 is next. I always considered this one to be just an okay innocuous record, but our voters disagreed and 6 of them had in on their ballot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqFbU5Q7zys

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Wed Nov 06, 2019 2:09 pm

Song #99 is "It Takes Two" by Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston, from 1966. This was released at the very end of 1966 and in 1967 it reached #4 on the Soul chart and #14 Pop. both on Billboard. Produced by Weston's then-husband, longtime Gaye collaborator William "Mickey" Stevenson, and co-written by Stevenson and Sylvia Moy, "It Takes Two" centered on a romantic lyric that depicted many things in life (dreams, love, wishes, etc.) being better with two people instead of one. The single became Gaye's most successful duet single to date, later outperformed by Gaye's duets with Tammi Terrell. It was also Gaye's first major hit in the UK, where it peaked at #16 on the British singles chart.


Image


RANK-BALLOTS-POINTS-TITLE-ARTIST
099 - 06-210 - It Takes Two - Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston
100 - 05-207 - You Haven't Done Nothin' - Stevie Wonder
101 - 05-204 - When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes - Supremes
102 - 04-203 - Strange I Know - Marvelettes
103 - 06-200 - Someday We'll Be Together - Supremes
104 - 03-196 - Envious - Linda Griner
105 - 06-194 - Pastime Paradise - Stevie Wonder
106 - 05-191 - Trouble Man - Marvin Gaye
107 - 04-191 - I'll Try Something New - Miracles
108 - 04-190 - What Does It Take (To Win Your Love) - Jr. Walker & The All-Stars
109 - 06-189 - Mickey's Monkey - Miracles
110 - 06-189 - Pride And Joy - Marvin Gaye
111 - 05-187 - The Love I Saw In You Was Just A Mirage - Miracles
112 - 05-186 - It's A Shame - Spinners
113 - 05-185 - The Bells - Originals
114 - 06-184 - I Want You - Marvin Gaye
115 - 07-180 - He Was Really Sayin' Somethin' - Velvelettes
116 - 04-180 - Forever - Marvelettes
117 - 05-169 - Love Child - Supremes
118 - 04-168 - Funny - Contours
119 - 06-165 - How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) - Marvin Gaye
120 - 05-161 - Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart - Supremes
121 - 04-161 - Way Over There - Miracles
122 - 03-161 - Who's Lovin' You - Jackson 5
123 - 04-157 - Stubborn Kind of Fellow - Marvin Gaye
124 - 06-156 - Standing In The Shadows of Love - Four Tops
125 - 04-156 - Walk Away Renee - Four Tops
126 - 05-155 - Easy- Commodores
127 - 05-155 - Don't Look Back - Temptations
128 - 03-154 - Function at the Junction - Shorty Long
129 - 05-149 - If I Were Your Woman - Gladys Knight & Pips
130 - 05-147 - Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
131 - 04-142 - Playboy - Marvelettes
132 - 04-142 - You'll Lose A Precious Love - Temptations
133 - 04-142 - Master Blaster (Jammin’) - Stevie Wonder
134 - 05-139 - You're A Wonderful One - Marvin Gaye
135 - 04-139 - Friendship Train - Gladys Knight & Pips
136 - 04-136 - I Hear A Symphony - Supremes
137 - 03-136 - The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game - Marvelettes
138 - 03-135 - Paradise - Temptations
139 - 05-134 - (I'm A) Road Runner - Jr. Walker & The All-Stars
140 - 05-131 - Quicksand - Martha & The Vandellas
141 - 03-131 - I'm Gonna Make You Love Me - Supremes and Temptations
142 - 03-131 - Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You) - Stevie Wonder
143 - 02-130 - You’re My Desire – Equadors
144 - 02-128 - Walk Away From Love - David Ruffin
145 - 02-125 - A Favor For a Girl - Brenda Holloway
146 - 03-124 - I'll Turn To Stone - Four Tops
147 - 03-124 - Hello - Lionel Richie
148 - 04-123 - Too Busy Thinking About My Baby - Marvin Gaye
149 - 03-123 - Would I Love You - Miracles
150 - 04-119 - Seven Rooms of Gloom - Four Tops
151 - 03-117 - A Fork In The Road - Miracles
152 - 05-115 - You Are the Sunshine of My Life - Stevie Wonder
153 - 04-115 - I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever) - Stevie Wonder
154 - 03-114 - Reflections - Supremes
155 - 02-114 - Square Biz - Teena Marie
156 - 04-113 - Two Lovers - Mary Wells
157 - 03-111 - The Only One I Love - Miracles
=========================================================================================


Song #98 is up. We go to this time of the year in 1965:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Hor2JdLPmA

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Wed Nov 06, 2019 7:15 pm

Image


Okay, song #98 is "Going To A Go-Go" from the Miracles in 1965. It was listed on 7 of the 44 ballots. "Going to a Go-Go" peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. In addition, the single peaked at number-two on the Billboard Hot R&B Singles chart and was The Miracles' fifth million-selling record. Smokey Robinson sings lead on "Going to a Go-Go", which he co-wrote with fellow Miracles Pete Moore, Bobby Rogers, and Marv Tarplin. Moore, Rogers, Ronnie White, and Smokey Robinson's wife Claudette Robinson provide backing vocals for the song, an up-tempo dance song inviting people of all walk of life to attend a go-go party. Miracles Robinson and Pete Moore were the song's producers.

"Going to a Go-Go" is featured on the Miracles' album of the same name, which proved to be their highest-charting LP of all-original material. The album reached the Top Ten of the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart in early 1966, peaking at number eight, and reached #1 on the Billboard top R&B albums chart. In 2003, the Miracles' Going To A Go-Go album was ranked number 271 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Here's a link to the MOTOWN JUNKIES review where it got 8/10 - https://motownjunkies.co.uk/2014/07/27/673/


Image


Song #97 is up now. Who's that at the door?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-VwHqSY8vU

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Thu Nov 07, 2019 12:37 am

Image


Song #97 is "Psychedelic Shack" by the Temptations. The single was released in the last week of 1969 and was a big hit early in 1970, reaching #2 on the Billboard Soul chart and #7 on the Pop chart. This song was written by Barrett Strong and Norma Whitfield and produced by Whitfield. This record features the Temptations and Whitfield's continuing their submergence into psychedelia, with multilead vocals, hard rock guitars, synthesizer sound effects, multitracked drums, and stereo-shifting vocals giving the record a distinct sound. The song's title and lyrics refer to a type of hippie nightclub popular in the late 1960s.


Image


Song #96 is next, and we get the most famous phone number at Motown!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Us18AUBM2RI

Hymie
Die Mensch Maschine
Posts: 2002
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 10:37 pm

Re: Best Motown Songs - RESULTS

Post by Hymie » Thu Nov 07, 2019 5:12 am

Song #96 is "Beechwood 4-5789 by the Marvelettes, from 1962. The song was written by Marvin Gaye, William "Mickey" Stevenson and George Gordy. The song's title is derived from the now-defunct use of telephone exchange names in telephone numbers. In this case, the significant portions of the exchange name were the first two letters of "Beechwood" (BE), and the remainder of the number. In conventional modern use, this telephone number would be 234-5789. The song's co-writer Marvin Gaye played drums on the track, which William Stevenson produced. The single was taken from the group's 1962 album Playboy.


Image


Song 95 is next. It's the drummer from song #96 with a classic ballad from 1973.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NShJXGrNotU

Post Reply