Posts Tagged ‘Motown’

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #76 – Martha and the Vandellas: “Wild One” b/w “Dancing Slow”– Gordy 7036 (L8/M8)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #76 – Martha and the Vandellas: “Wild One” b/w “Dancing Slow”– Gordy 7036 (L8/M8)

Today’s Song of the Day is the second single in the jukebox by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. As a result, I will pick up some of the biographical information I wrote about the group from my piece on “Jimmy Mack” (Jukebox Series #23) for this article.

Martha and the Vandellas was one of the most successful girl groups to come out of Motown. Unlike The Supremes, the Vandellas’ sound was far grittier and more danceable than the sugary pop that catapulted The Supremes to fame. Their list of classic hits includes “(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave,” “Nowhere to Run,” “Come And Get These Memories,” “Quicksand,” “Live Wire,” “Jimmy Mack,” “My Baby Loves Me,” “You’ve Been In Love Too Long,” and their signature single “Dancing in the Street.”

Today’s jukebox classic was not one of Martha and the Vandellas’ biggest hits, but it is one that has a distinctive uptown Brill Building sound to it, by way of Detroit. The song was written by William “Mickey” Stevenson and Ivy Jo Hunter who also were two of the three songwriters of the group’s defining hit “Dancing In The Street.” In fact, the backing track to this song was an alternate version of the backing track to “Dancing In The Street,” with the crucial difference of a heavily boosted drum track that sends the record into the dance floor stratosphere.

The song climbed to #11 on the R&B charts, but only placed at #34 on the Hot 100 singles chart. However, don’t let the somewhat anemic chart stats fool you; this song is every bit as potent as their biggest hits with its larger than life drum sound, tinny AM radio horn charts, and of course, the sultry vocal talents of Martha Reeves. The song was a tribute to bikers and was inspired by The Shangri-Las’ “Leader Of The Pack” and The Crystals’ “He’s A Rebel.”

Personnel on the track includes Martha Reeves on lead vocals, Rosalind Ashford, Betty Kelly, William “Mickey” Stevenson and Ivy Joe Hunter on background vocals, with instrumentation by various members of Motown’s session group The Funk Brothers, including Benny Benjamin on drums, James Jamerson on bass, Jack Ashford and Ivy Jo Hunter on percussion and Robert White and Eddie Willis on guitar.

The song was included on The Vandellas’ 1965 Dance Party album, as was the flip of today’s jukebox classic “Dancing Slow.” The album centered on a clutch of singles that were released during the previous year including the hits “Dancing In The Street” and “Come And Get These Memories,” plus the popular album track “Motoring.”

The flip of today’s single, “Dancing Slow” was a supper club ballad that was supposed to cast Martha Reeves in a new light as a nightclub performer. Around this time, Diana Ross and The Supremes scored three consecutive chart-topping singles, so Motown did not want The Vandellas’ to compete on the charts with the label’s new superstar group (even though Martha Reeves could sing circles around Diana Ross). As a result, the group was sent to the studio during the summer of 1964 to record a selection of MOR pop ballads, Broadway tunes and standards for a supper club album that never saw the light of day. Ultimately, The Supremes went on to become Motown’s biggest recording act, pushing Martha and the Vandellas to the side and ultimately off the label.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: September 27th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #53– Mary Wells: “The One Who Really Loves You” b/w “I’m Gonna Stay” – Motown 45 MT-1024 (C6/D6)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #53– Mary Wells: “The One Who Really Loves You” b/w “I’m Gonna Stay” – Motown 45 MT-1024 (C6/D6)

She was Motown’s first big star and a favorite of The Beatles , and songs like this Smokey Robinson-penned gem that climbed to the #2 position of the R&B charts and the #8 position of the pop charts in 1962 are the reason why.

Wells came to Motown after passing Berry Gordy a song demo that she had intended for Jackie Wilson to record. Gordy had her sing the song for him and was suitably impressed enough to have her record “Bye Bye Baby” and released it as her first single which climbed to #8 on the R&B charts in 1961.

After this success, Gordy teamed her up with Smokey Robinson. Today’s jukebox classic was one in a long line of hits composed specifically for Mary Wells by Smokey Robinson, that also included “My Guy,” You Beat Me To The Punch” and “Two Lovers,” that established Wells as Motown’s first big star before leaving the company at the height of her powers in 1964.

“The One Who Really Loves You” is one of the finest examples of Robinson’s compositional magnificence. The song features a super-catchy ear worm of a tune highlighted by Wells’ cool lilting vocal that projects just the right amount of adult sophistication aloft in the mix. It all comes to you backed by a Harry Belafonte- influenced Calypso beat and smooth harmony vocals by The Love Tones (Carl Jones, Joe Marls & Stanford Bracely) who recorded backing vocals on many Motown sessions in 1962, but were never afforded a single of their own. The song was from Wells’ 1962 album of the same name which also included hit single “You Beat Me To The Punch.”

The flip of the single is every bit as good as the A-side, and was culled from Mary Wells’ 1961 debut Motown album called Bye Bye Baby I Don’t Want To Take A Chance. The single was reissued in 1965 after Wells left the label with the sides flipped to minimal chart action.

Wells’ success came to an end at Motown after a dispute with the label over the royalties from her recording of “My Guy” which she claimed were used to promote The Supremes’ single “Where Did Our Love Go” rather than one of her own records. Wells freed herself from Motown giving up royalties from the records she recorded for the label and the use of her own likeness to promote them, and signed with 20th Century Fox records where she had little chart success.

After recording many good records for Atco, Jubilee and Reprise that failed to chart, she finally found herself back on the charts again in 1981 with the Disco hit “Gigolo.” More records followed for a succession of smaller record labels that offered little promotion until Wells was diagnosed with cancer in 1990. She also sued Motown for unpaid royalties and reached a settlement with the label. Wells succumbed to laryngeal cancer in July of 1992 at the age of 49 leaving a legacy of soulful gems in her wake that are ripe for reinvestigation.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: July 20th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #29 – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: “I’ll Try Something New” b/w “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” – Collectables 45 RPM Single MOT-00505 (S3/T3)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #29 – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: “I’ll Try Something New” b/w “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” – Collectables 45 RPM Single MOT-00505 (S3/T3)

Before The Miracles, before Berry Gordy and before Motown, a talented singer and aspiring songwriter named William Robinson formed a group called The Matadors. The Matadors consisted of Bobby Rogers, Ronnie White, Warren Moore and Claudette Rogers.

They met a hungry promoter named Berry Gordy who had his first taste of success by writing the Jackie Wilson hit “Reet Petite.” The Matadors auditioned for Gordy who liked the group, especially their lead singer. When Williams told Gordy that he could write songs, the two sat down and wrote an answer record to The Silhouettes’ 1958 hit “Get A Job,” and called it “Got A Job.”

Gordy thought the name, The Matadors, was far to masculine for a group that featured a vocalist like William Robinson and also a female vocalist, so he changed their name to The Miracles. Gordy negotiated a release of the record on the independent End record label in 1958 and it became a minor hit.

With the money earned from the hit record, Gordy went on to found the Motown record label making Robinson the vice-president…so you may say that both Gordy and Smokey Robinson (as he became known) “Got A Job” with the release of the record of the same name.

The Miracles consisted of Smokey Robinson on lead vocal, Claudette Rogers Robinson (his wife) on backing vocal, Pete Moore on backing vocal, Ronnie White on backing vocal, Bobby Rogers on co-lead vocal and backing vocal, Marv Tarplin on guitar with all other instruments performed by The Funk Brothers.

Songs don’t come any more romantic than the top side of today’s double A-sided single! The first thing that grabs you is the angelic, echo-laden production sound of “I’ll Try Something New” with its elaborate and plush bed of strings. If that doesn’t automatically get your attention, then Robinson’s gossamer vocals are sure to woo even the most hardened heart. (Note: For the ultimate in greatness, check out his soulful vocals during this record’s fade.)

The song was one of The Miracles early singles from 1962 and was also the title track to their third album. Upon its release, it climbed to the #11 position on the R&B charts and settled at #39 on the pop list. In 1969, the song was released as a single by The Supremes and The Temptations together that climbed to #25 on the pop charts and #8 R&B. It was also covered by the disco group A Taste Of Honey in 1982.

The flip of today’s single was a much bigger hit for The Miracles topping the R&B charts and climbing all the way to #8 on the pop list while selling a million copies. “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” is deservedly in the Grammy Hall Of Fame and also holds the distinction of being covered by The Beatles on their second album.

The song was written by Smokey Robinson for his wife (and group member) Claudette after hearing Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” on the radio while on a business trip in New York City. When originally released, it was relegated to the B-side of the song “Happy Landing,” however DJs flipped the record and liked it much better. Both songs appeared on The Miracles second album The Fabulous Miracles released in 1963.

The Beatles first heard the song after finding an imported copy from the U.S. and it quickly became a staple of their early live repertoire. It was recorded for their second album WithThe Beatles (in the U.K.) and The Beatles’ Second Album (in the U.S.) featuring an indelible lead vocal by John Lennon.

The Beatles re-recorded the song after EMI acquired their first four track recording equipment; however that version was deemed no better than the original and remains unreleased to this day. They also recorded it four times for broadcast on BBC radio. The song can also be heard in the 1970 Let It Be and it was also featured in a live version from Stockholm, Sweden in October 1963 on the Anthology 1 album.

The Beatles covered several Motown songs early in their career, including “Money (That’s What I Want)” and “Please Mr. Postman,” because Berry Gordy gave the group reduced rates as an enticement since they were such a big recording act. The song has also been covered by a myriad of artists including The Supremes, The Temptations, The Zombies, The Jackson 5, Mickey Gilley (#2 Country Hit), Phil Collins, Mike + The Mechanics and She & Him.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: May 13th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #23 – Martha Reeves and the Vandellas: “Jimmy Mack” b/w “I’m Ready For Love” – Motown Yesteryear Series 45 RPM Single Y 455F (E3/F3)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #23 – Martha Reeves and the Vandellas: “Jimmy Mack” b/w “I’m Ready For Love” – Motown Yesteryear Series 45 RPM Single Y 455F (E3/F3)

I first discovered today’s jukebox classic not in its original guise by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’, but from a cover performed by Laura Nyro and LaBelle on their classic 1971 album called Gonna Take A Miracle. When I first heard Nyro’s version, I didn’t make the connection between the song and all of the other great Vandellas hits I already knew from the radio. It wasn’t until my older sister picked up a copy of Martha and the Vandellas’ Greatest Hits album in 1972 that I finally came to fully appreciate the magic of Motown’s finest girl group.

Martha and the Vandellas was one of the most successful girl groups to come out of Motown. Unlike The Supremes, the Vandellas’ sound was far grittier and more danceable than the sugary pop that catapulted The Supremes to fame. Their list of classic hits includes “(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave,” “Nowhere to Run,” “Come And Get These Memories,” “Quicksand,” “Live Wire,” “Wild One,” “My Baby Loves Me,” “You’ve Been In Love Too Long,” and their signature single “Dancing in the Street.”

“Jimmy Mack” was written and produced by the team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland and it was the group’s last American top-ten hit reaching #10 on the pop charts in 1967, and #1 R&B. It was also from the last batch of Martha and the Vandellas recordings featuring input from Holland-Dozier-Holland before they left the Motown fold. Not coincidentally, their departure from Motown aligned with the waning of The Vandellas’ popularity.

The impetus for the song came out of an industry awards dinner that Lamont Dozier attended. At the awards, Ronnie Mack won a posthumous award for composing the song “He’s So Fine.” His mother came up to accept the award on his behalf and Dozier decided he’d write the song in tribute to Ronnie Mack.

Lamont Dozier: “‘Jimmy Mack’ was about a kid who had written a song that was quite popular. When they called out his name there was something, along with the way his mother picked up the award, that kind of moved me and the name stuck with me. So when a melody came about that name seemed to spring up and fit well with the music we were writing at the time.” (NME 1984 via Songfacts)

Martha and the Vandellas originally recorded the song in 1964 as a typical teen anthem about lost love, but Motown’s quality control team rejected the recording leaving it unreleased in the Motown vaults. Three years later, Berry Gordy became aware of the recording and hearing a surefire hit made sure the song was released as a single. With the passage of time, the record took on a different meaning, especially to the many African American troops who were stationed overseas in Viet Nam.

The song was included in The Vandellas’ ballad-heavy 1967 album Watchout!, however the single version of this song opens with a drum intro that is not featured on the album cut. Personnel on the track included Martha Reeves on lead vocals, Rosalind Ashford and Annette Beard on background vocals, The Andantes: Marlene Barrow, Jackie Hicks and Louvain Demps on additional background vocals and instrumentation by various members of Motown’s session group The Funk Brothers, including Richard “Pistol” Allen on drums, Jack Ashford on vibes, Bob Babbitt on bass, Benny Benjamin on drums, Eddie “Bongo” Brown on percussion, Johnny Griffith on keyboards, Joe Hunter on keyboards, James Jamerson on bass, Uriel Jones on drums, Joe Messina on guitar, Earl Van Dyke on keyboards, Marvin Tarplin on guitar, Robert White on guitar and Eddie Willis.

The song was also covered by the likes of Karen Carpenter, Phil Collins, Sheena Easton (who scored a #65 chart hit with it in1986) and Bonnie Pointer. It was also cut by The Temptations for their 1967 album In A Mellow Mood.

The flip of today’s double A-sided single climbed up to the #9 position on the pop charts and rose to #2 on the R&B charts in 1966. The song was also written by Holland-Dozier-Holland and is a dead ringer for The Supremes hit “You Can’t Hurry Love” which they also wrote.

The track was also on The Vandellas’ Watchout! album and featured pretty much the same musicians as “Jimmy Mack,” except Betty Kelly sings background vocals instead of Annette Beard. The group also cut a Spanish version of the song under the title “Yo Necesito De Tu Amor.”

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: April 28th, 2015

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Creepin’” By Stevie Wonder

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Creepin’” By Stevie Wonder

When it comes to a vibe, this song’s got it all in spades.

Today’s Song Of The Day comes from 1974′s Fulfillingness’ First Finale which was released shortly after Wonder’s near-death car accident, making this album an all-the-more-important part of his canon.

However, at the time of its release, it was seen as somewhat of a disappointment following nearly-perfect records like Innervisions (1973) and Talking Book (1972). And if that wasn’t enough, the record that followed it was 1976′s Songs In The Key Of Life which was also critically acclaimed, leading most people to gloss over this record.

Upon closer inspection, Fulfillingness’” has much to offer with classics like “Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away,” “You Haven’t Done Nothin’,” “It Ain’t No Use,” “Boogie On Reggae Woman” and “Please Don’t Go.”

Here’s the bottom line: the run of records Stevie Wonder released from 1971′s Music Of My Mind through 1976′s Songs In The Key Of Life should be an essential part of any music collection and not to be missed!

Edited: July 24th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #76 – Martha and the Vandellas: “Wild One” b/w “Dancing Slow”– Gordy 7036 (L8/M8)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #76 – Martha and the Vandellas: “Wild One” b/w “Dancing Slow”– Gordy 7036 (L8/M8)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Today’s Song Of the Day is the second single in the jukebox by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. As a result, I will pick up some of the biographical information I wrote about the group from my piece on “Jimmy Mack” (Jukebox Series #23) for this article.

Martha and the Vandellas was one of the most successful girl groups to come out of Motown. Unlike The Supremes, the Vandellas’ sound was far grittier and more danceable than the sugary pop that catapulted The Supremes to fame. Their list of classic hits includes “(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave,” “Nowhere to Run,” “Come And Get These Memories,” “Quicksand,” “Live Wire,” “Jimmy Mack,” “My Baby Loves Me,”  “You’ve Been In Love Too Long,” and their signature single “Dancing in the Street.”

Today’s jukebox classic was not one of Martha and the Vandellas’ biggest hits, but it is one that has a distinctive uptown Brill Building sound to it, by way of Detroit. The song was written by William “Mickey” Stevenson and Ivy Jo Hunter who also were two of the three songwriters of the group’s defining hit “Dancing In The Street.” In fact, the backing track to this song was an alternate version of the backing track to “Dancing In The Street,” with the crucial difference of a heavily boosted drum track that sends the record into the dance floor stratosphere.

The song climbed to #11 on the R&B charts, but only placed at #34 on the Hot 100 singles chart. However, don’t let the somewhat anemic chart stats fool you; this song is every bit as potent as their biggest hits with its larger than life drum sound, tinny AM radio horn charts, and of course the sultry vocal talents of Martha Reeves. The song was a tribute to bikers and was inspired by The Shangri-Las’ “Leader Of The Pack” and The Crystals’ “He’s A Rebel.”

Personnel on the track included Martha Reeves on lead vocals, Rosalind Ashford, Betty Kelly, William “Mickey” Stevenson and Ivy Joe Hunter on background vocals, with instrumentation by various members of Motown’s session group The Funk Brothers, including Benny Benjamin on drums, James Jamerson on bass, Jack Ashford and Ivy Jo Hunter on percussion and Robert White and Eddie Willis on guitar.

The song was included on The Vandellas’ 1965 Dance Party album, as was the flip of today’s jukebox classic “Dancing Slow.” The album centered on a clutch of singles that were released during the previous year including the hits “Dancing In The Street” and “Come And Get These Memories,” plus the popular album track “Motoring.”

The flip of today’s single, “Dancing Slow” was a supper club ballad that was supposed to cast Martha Reeves in a new light as a nightclub performer. Around this time, Diana Ross and The Supremes scored three consecutive chart-topping singles, so Motown did not want The Vandellas’ to compete on the charts with the label’s new superstar group (even though Martha Reeves could sing circles around Diana Ross). As a result, the group was sent to the studio during the summer of 1964 to record a selection of MOR pop ballads, Broadway tunes and standards for a supper club album that never saw the light of day. Ultimately, The Supremes went on to become Motown’s biggest recording act, pushing Martha and the Vandellas to the side and ultimately off the label.

Edited: February 11th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #53– Mary Wells: “The One Who Really Loves You” b/w “I’m Gonna Stay” – Motown 45 MT-1024 (C6/D6)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #53– Mary Wells: “The One Who Really Loves You” b/w “I’m Gonna Stay” – Motown 45 MT-1024 (C6/D6)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

She was Motown’s first big star and a favorite of The Beatles , and songs like this Smokey Robinson penned gem that climbed to the #2 position of the R&B charts and the #8 position of the pop charts in 1962 are the reason why. Wells came to Motown after passing Berry Gordy a song demo that she had intended for Jackie Wilson to record. Gordy had her sing the song for him and was suitably impressed enough to have her record “Bye Bye Baby” and released it as her first single which climbed to #8 on the R&B charts in 1961.

After this success, Gordy teamed her up with Smokey Robinson. Today’s jukebox classic was one in a long line of hits composed specifically for Mary Wells by Smokey Robinson, that also included “My Guy,” You Beat Me To The Punch” and “Two Lovers” that established Wells as Motown’s first big star before  leaving the company at the height of her powers in 1964.

“The One Who Really Loves You” is one of the finest examples of Robinson’s compositional magnificence. The song features a super-catchy ear worm of a tune highlighted by Wells’ cool lilting vocal that projects just the right amount of adult sophistication aloft in the mix. It all comes to you backed by a Harry Belafonte- influenced Calypso beat and smooth harmony vocals by The Love Tones (Carl Jones, Joe Marls & Stanford Bracely) who recorded backing vocals on many Motown sessions in 1962, but were never afforded a single of their own. The song was from Wells’ 1962 album of the same name which also included hit single “You Beat Me To The Punch.”

The flip of the single is every bit as good as the A-side, and was culled from Mary Wells’ 1961 debut Motown album called Bye Bye Baby I Don’t Want To Take A Chance. The single was reissued in 1965 after Wells left the label with the sides flipped to minimal chart action.

Wells’ success came to an end at Motown after a dispute with the label over the royalties from her recording of “My Guy” which she claimed were used to promote The Supremes’ single “Where Did Our Love Go” rather than one of her own records. Wells freed herself from Motown giving up royalties from the records she recorded for the label and the use of her own likeness to promote them, and signed with 20th Century Fox records where she had little chart success.

After recording many good records for Atco, Jubilee and Reprise that failed to chart, Wells found herself back on the charts again in 1981 with the Disco hit “Gigolo.” More records followed for a succession of smaller record labels that offered little promotion until Wells was diagnosed with cancer in 1990. She also sued Motown for unpaid royalties and reached a settlement with the label. Wells succumbed to laryngeal cancer in July of 1992 at the age of 49 leaving a legacy of soulful gems in her wake that are ripe for reinvestigation.

Edited: January 7th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #29 – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: “I’ll Try Something New” b/w “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” – Collectables 45 RPM Single MOT-00505 (S3/T3)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #29 – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: “I’ll Try Something New” b/w “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” – Collectables 45 RPM Single MOT-00505 (S3/T3)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Before The Miracles, before Berry Gordy and before Motown, a talented singer and aspiring songwriter named William Robinson formed a group called The Matadors. The Matadors consisted of Bobby Rogers, Ronnie White, Warren Moore and Claudette Rogers.

They met a hungry promoter named Berry Gordy who had his first taste of success by writing the Jackie Wilson hit “Reet Petite.” The Matadors auditioned for Gordy who liked the group, especially their lead singer. When Williams told Gordy that he could write songs, the two sat down and wrote an answer record to The Silhouettes’ 1958 hit “Get A Job,” and called it “Got A Job.”

Gordy thought the name, The Matadors, was far to masculine for a group that featured a vocalist like William Robinson and also a female vocalist, so he changed their name to The Miracles. Gordy negotiated a release of the record on the independent End record label in 1958 and it became a minor hit.

With the money earned from the hit record, Gordy went on to found the Motown record label making Robinson the vice-president…so you may say that both Gordy and Smokey Robinson (as he became known) “Got A Job” with the release of the record of the same name.

The Miracles consisted of Smokey Robinson on lead vocal, Claudette Rogers Robinson (his wife) on backing vocal, Pete Moore on backing vocal, Ronnie White on backing vocal, Bobby Rogers on co-lead vocal and backing vocal, Marv Tarplin on guitar with all other instruments performed by The Funk Brothers.

Songs don’t come any more romantic than the top side of today’s double A-sided single! The first thing that grabs you is the angelic, echo-laden production sound of the record with its elaborate and plush bed of strings. If that doesn’t automatically get your attention, then Robinson’s gossamer vocals are sure to woo even the most hardened heart. (Note: For the ultimate in greatness, check out his soulful vocals during this record’s fade.)

The song was one of The Miracles early singles from 1962 and was also the title track to their third album. Upon its release, it climbed to the #11 position on the R&B charts and settled at #39 on the pop list.  In 1969, the song was released as a single by The Supremes and The Temptations together that climbed to #25 on the pop charts and #8 R&B. It was also covered by disco group A Taste Of Honey in 1982.

The flip of today’s single was a much bigger hit for The Miracles topping the R&B charts and climbing all the way to #8 on the pop list while selling a million copies. “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” is deservedly in the Grammy Hall Of Fame and also holds the distinction of being covered by The Beatles on their second album.

The song was written by Smokey Robinson for his wife (and group member) Claudette after hearing Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” on the radio while on a business trip in New York City. When originally released, it was relegated to the B-side of the song “Happy Landing,” however DJs flipped the record and liked it much better. Both songs appeared on The Miracles second album The Fabulous Miracles released in 1963.

The Beatles first heard the song after finding an imported copy from the U.S. and it quickly became a staple of their early live repertoire. It was recorded for their second album With The Beatles (in the U.K.) and The Beatles’ Second Album (in the U.S.) featuring an indelible lead vocal by John Lennon.

The Beatles re-recorded the song after EMI acquired their first four track recording equipment; however that version was deemed no better than the original and remains unreleased to this day. They also recorded it four times for broadcast on BBC radio. The song can also be heard in the 1970 Let It Be and it was also featured in a live version from Stockholm, Sweden in October 1963 on the Anthology 1 album.

The Beatles covered several Motown songs early in their career, including “Money (That’s What I Want)” and “Please Mr. Postman,” because Berry Gordy gave the group reduced rates as an enticement since they were such a big recording act. The song has also been covered by a myriad of artists including The Supremes, The Temptations, The Zombies, The Jackson 5, Mickey Gilley (#2 Country Hit), Phil Collins, Mike + The Mechanics and She & Him.

Edited: November 15th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #23 – Martha Reeves And The Vandellas: “Jimmy Mack” b/w “I’m Ready For Love” – Motown Yesteryear Series 45 RPM Single Y 455F (E3/F3)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #23 – Martha Reeves And The Vandellas: “Jimmy Mack” b/w “I’m Ready For Love” – Motown Yesteryear Series 45 RPM Single Y 455F (E3/F3)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

I first discovered today’s jukebox classic not in its original guise by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’, but from a cover performed by Laura Nyro and LaBelle on their classic 1971 album called Gonna Take A Miracle. When I first heard Nyro’s version, I didn’t make the connection between the song and all of the other great Vandellas hits I already knew from the radio. It wasn’t until my older sister picked up a copy of Martha and the Vandellas’ Greatest Hits album in 1972 that I finally came to fully appreciate the magic of, in my estimation, Motown’s finest girl group.

Martha and the Vandellas was one of the most successful girl groups to come out of Motown. Unlike The Supremes, the Vandellas’ sound was far grittier and more danceable than the sugary pop that catapulted The Supremes to fame. Their list of classic hits includes “(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave,” “Nowhere to Run,” “Come And Get These Memories,” “Quicksand,” “Live Wire,” “Wild One,” “My Baby Loves Me,”  “You’ve Been In Love Too Long,” and their signature single “Dancing in the Street.”

The song was written and produced by the team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland and it was the group’s last American top-ten hit reaching #10 on the pop charts in 1967, and #1 R&B. It was also from the last batch of Martha and the Vandellas recordings featuring input from Holland-Dozier-Holland before they left the Motown fold. Not coincidentally, their departure from Motown aligned with the waning of The Vandellas’ popularity.

The impetus for the song came out of an industry awards dinner that Lamont Dozier attended. At the awards, Ronnie Mack won a posthumous award for composing the song “He’s So Fine.” His mother came up to accept the award on his behalf and Dozier decided he’d write the song in tribute to Ronnie Mack.

Lamont Dozier: “‘Jimmy Mack’ was about a kid who had written a song that was quite popular. When they called out his name there was something, along with the way his mother picked up the award, that kind of moved me and the name stuck with me. So when a melody came about that name seemed to spring up and fit well with the music we were writing at the time.” (NME 1984 via Songfacts)

Martha and the Vandellas originally recorded the song in 1964 as a typical teen anthem about lost love, but Motown’s quality control team rejected the recording leaving it unreleased in the Motown vaults. Three years later, Berry Gordy became aware of the recording and hearing a surefire hit made sure the song was released as a single. With the passage of time, the record took on a different meaning, especially to the many African American troops who were stationed overseas in Viet Nam.

The song was included in The Vandellas’ ballad-heavy 1967 album Watchout!, however the single version of this song opens with a drum intro that is not featured on the album cut. Personnel on the track included Martha Reeves on lead vocals, Rosalind Ashford and Annette Beard on background vocals, The Andantes: Marlene Barrow, Jackie Hicks and Louvain Demps on additional background vocals and instrumentation by various members of Motown’s session group The Funk Brothers, including Richard “Pistol” Allen on drums, Jack Ashford on vibes, Bob Babbitt on bass, Benny Benjamin on drums, Eddie “Bongo” Brown on percussion, Johnny Griffith on keyboards, Joe Hunter on keyboards, James Jamerson on bass, Uriel Jones on drums, Joe Messina on guitar, Earl Van Dyke on keyboards, Marvin Tarplin on guitar, Robert White on guitar and  Eddie Willis.

The song was also covered by the likes of Karen Carpenter, Phil Collins, Sheena Easton (who scored a #65 chart hit with it in1986) and Bonnie Pointer. It was also cut by The Temptations for their 1967 album In A Mellow Mood.

The flip of today’s double A-sided single climbed up to the #9 position on the pop charts and rose to #2 on the R&B charts in 1966. The song was also written by Holland-Dozier-Holland and is a dead ringer for The Supremes hit “You Can’t Hurry Love” which they also wrote.

The track was also on The Vandellas’ Watchout! album and featured pretty much the same musicians as “Jimmy Mack,” except Betty Kelly sings background vocals instead of Annette Beard. The group also cut a Spanish version of the song under the title “Yo Necesito De Tu Amor.”

Edited: November 6th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/21/13 – “We Can Work It Out” by Stevie Wonder

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “We Can Work It Out” by Stevie Wonder

He was no longer little…but he was not yet big either…

By 1970, Stevie Wonder had grown restless with the constraints that Motown Records put upon his creativity. Rather than continue to create commercial fodder that was sure to climb the charts, Wonder wanted to dig deeper by addressing social concerns with his music, and exploring different instrumentation on his records. On his 1970 album Signed, Sealed & Delivered, he began to spread his musical wings and display a newfound maturity in his songwriting and his singing, particularly on songs like “I Can’t Let Heaven Walk Away,” “Something To Say” and “Never Had A Dream Come True.”

Sure, he still had the ability to give Motown what they wanted, but Wonder craved more control over his recordings, and for this album he wrote or co-wrote seven of the tracks and received full production credit for the first time. (In reality, he actually only produced two of the tracks and co-produced three more.)

Along with the hit title track (#1 R&B, #3 Pop), the album also featured the singles “Heaven Help Us All” (#9 Pop), “Never Had a Dream Come True” (#11 R&B) and Wonder’s cover of The Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out” (#13 Pop). Wonder’s version of the Beatles classic announces its intention right from the get-go with one of the most succinct and exciting organ intros ever to grace the Motown label. From there, it’s a non-stop soul fest compete with Wonder’s exuberant lead vocals over funky harmonica riffing flying around the mix. The recording earned Wonder his second Grammy Award nomination, for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, while the album hit #25 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart and also climbed to the #7 spot on the R&B Albums chart.

The song was credited to Lennon and McCartney; however the lyrics were primarily written by McCartney and were about his relationship with then girlfriend Jane Asher. The Beatles’ recorded it during the sessions for Rubber Soul, and released it as one side of a double A-sided single with “Day Tripper” on the flip.

Wonder’s version was heard playing over the closing credits of the 2005 film Kicking And Screaming. He also performed his version of the song at The White House to honor Paul McCartney in 2010 when McCartney was awarded the Gershwin Prize by the Library of Congress.

While the release of “Signed, Sealed & Delivered” was a somewhat tentative step toward full-blown maturity and artistic control on vinyl, it did bring Wonder one step closer creating world class albums like Music Of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness’ First Finale and Songs In The Key Of Life.

Edited: September 20th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 7/15/13

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Sail Away” by Bobby Darin

By 1972, Bobby Darin was long past his “Splish-Splash” rock ‘n’ roll beginnings and the supper club success that followed. He’d moved from his successful home at Atco records to the new confines of Capitol records where the supper club hits began to dry up.

The late ‘60s was a turbulent time in our country and, especially in Darin’s life. He was deeply dedicated to supporting Bobby Kennedy in his 1968 bid for the presidency, and was present at the Ambassador Hotel the night he was assassinated.

Shortly thereafter, he was told that the girl he thought was his sister was actually his mother, and that he’d been brought up by his grandparents and not his parents. If you find this scenario confusing, you can imagine how much it blew Darin’s mind, sending him into seclusion.

With his personal issues as a backdrop, Darin launched his own Direction Record label in 1969 whose goal was to release records with messages that reflected his political views and supported the direction he thought the country should be going in. During his live shows of the time he refused to take requests for “Mack The Knife” and his other hits, choosing to perform his own original folk songs. Needless to say, his Direction Records period turned Darin’s career in the wrong direction…

Darin’s health was also failing. As a child, he suffered from rheumatic fever which severely weakened his heart muscle, making him see his whole career as a race against time. He underwent surgery in 1971 in an effort to improve his condition.

During the early 1970s, Motown Records was also in transition, moving its headquarters away from Detroit to California where Berry Gordy was directing Diana Ross in the film Lady Sings The Blues. Darin signed with the label in 1970 with the hope of moving in a more soulful direction to revive his career, and was also soon back on TV again hosting The Bobby Darin Amusement Co. variety show on NBC.

Motown recorded Darin in concert for a planned and then shelved album release called Live At The Desert Inn and instead chose to release two non-LP Motown singles (including a cover of Bob Dylan’s “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” released as a B-side). In 1972, the label released his eponymously titled debut album for Motown featuring several original tunes, as well as some well-chosen covers including Cat Stevens’ “Hard Headed Woman,”  and Randy Newman’s “Sail Away” (today’s Song Of The Day), which were both coupled together for a single release that ultimately failed to chart.  A second single, “Average People” b/w “Something in Her Love” met a similar fate as did the album, which quickly faded into obscurity.

The album was the last Bobby Darin record to be released during his lifetime. In 1973, Darin contracted sepsis after a dental visit that weakened his system, sending him into the hospital where he underwent two surgeries to repair both artificial heart valves. He died during surgery on December 20th 1973 at the age of 37.

Edited: July 14th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 6/25/13

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Simple Game” by The Four Tops (with The Moody Blues)

Today’s Song Of The Day could have only happened in that strange and mystical place where the worlds of The Moody Blues and The Four Tops intersect.

“Simple Game” was originally the B-side to the Moody Blues’ 1967 single “Ride My See-Saw.” The song was written by Michael Pinder, and didn’t appear on a Moody Blues album until the two record compilation This Is The Moody Blues in 1972.

Moody Blues’ producer Tony Clark went to see the Tops in England and approached them with a demo of the song. The group didn’t know who Clark was, but liked the song and agreed to record it in England with Clark producing. The track was recorded on May 5, 1970, and The Four Tops’ backing band on this record was none other than an uncredited Moody Blues!

Two other tracks were recorded during the session with The Moody Blues backing, including “You Stole My Love” (another Moody Blues tune co-written by Tony Clark and Justin Hayward) and “So Deep Within You.” Neither track saw a U.S. release until The Four Tops box set Fourever in 2001; however “So Deep Within You” was used as the B-side to today’s Song Of The Day in England.

The single was arranged by Arthur Greenslade who had much success arranging hits for Dusty Springfield and Tom Jones. It climbed to #34 on the R&B charts and #90 on the pop charts, but did much better in England where “Simple Game” was a #3 hit single.

Strange bedfellows make great music, indeed!

Edited: June 24th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 6/14/13

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Creepin’” by Stevie Wonder

Today’s Song Of The Day is from Stevie Wonder’s 1974 album Fulfillingness’ First Finale which was released shortly after a car accident that almost took his life, making the album an all-the-more-important part of his canon. While on tour in North Carolina in August of 1973, Wonder’s car smashed into the back of a logging truck, and the bed of the truck crashed into the windshield of his car. Wonder suffered head injuries that left him in a coma for four days. He also partially lost his sense of smell and temporarily lost his sense of taste.

The brush with death had a great impact on the tone of the album, bringing a renewed spirituality and an awareness of his mortality to the lyrics. During the first interview he gave at the hospital several days after the accident, Wonder had this to say: “I was unconscious, and that for a few days, I was definitely in a much better spiritual place that made me aware of a lot of things that concern my life and my future, and what I have to do to reach another higher ground.”

At the time of its release, Fulfillingness’ was seen as somewhat of a disappointment following nearly-perfect records like Innervisions and Talking Book. It also didn’t help that his next record was 1976′s Songs In The Key Of Life which was a critically acclaimed double album, leading most people to gloss over this record.

However, upon closer inspection, Fulfillingness’ is a first rate collection of songs that finds Stevie Wonder in transition, but still stands mighty tall amongst his other releases. And any album that can sport classics like “Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away,” “You Haven’t Done Nothin’,” “It Ain’t No Use,” “Boogie On Reggae Woman,” “They Won’t Go When I Go” and “Please Don’t Go” betters most of the records on the musical landscape circa 1974.

Like on his previous albums, Wonder played almost all of the instruments here, enlisting  first class help from Michael Sembello on guitar, Sneaky Pete Kleinow on pedal steel,  James Jamerson and Reggie McBride on bass, and on background vocals The Jackson 5, Minnie Riperton, Deniece Williams, Paul Anka, Syreeta Wright, The Persuasions, Shirley Brewer and Jim Gilstrap.

The album was his first to top the Billboard album charts and it spawned two big singles including the funky “Boogie on Reggae Woman” (#1 R&B/#3 Pop) and his indictment of the Nixon administration, “You Haven’t Done Nothin’” (#1 R&B/#1 Pop) featuring background vocals by the Jackson 5. It also won three Grammy Awards for Best Male Pop Vocal, Best Male Rhythm and Blues Vocal Performance (for “Boogie On Reggae Woman”), and Album of the Year.

When it comes to a vibe, today’s Song Of The Day has it all: dreamy atmosphere, lush melody and deeply romantic lyrics. The song features Wonder on lead and background vocals, Fender Rhodes, harmonica, drums, Moog bass and T.O.N.T.O. synthesizer. Crucially, the vibe comes down to the T.O.N.T.O. (The Original New Timbral Orchestra) synthesizer that was the first and largest multitimbral polyphonic analog synthesizer in the world. It was brought into the fray by Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff and used on Wonder’s three previous albums. The female background vocals on the track were supplied by Minnie Riperton, and the song was also covered by Luther Vandross and Kenny Rankin.

Bottom line: the run of records Stevie Wonder released from 1971′s Music Of My Mind through 1976′s Songs In The Key Of Life are an essential part to any comprehensive music collection!

Well, it seems that Stevie Wonder’s recording of “Creepin’” has been blockedon YouTube by thought police (or is that the thoughtless police) at the record companies. So if you have Spotify or this Stevie Wonder album, I recommend that you cue it up and enjoy it while reading this…and if you don’t have it, buy it immediately…and you can thank me later.

Edited: June 13th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 5/30/13

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Dancing Machine” by The Jackson 5

They were growing up…and the world liked their Jacksons young.

By 1973, The Jackson 5 were becoming somewhat of a spent force around Motown. It had been a few years since the group scored a bona-fide top ten hit, and there was plenty of dissatisfaction to go around.

Brother Michael was no longer the pint-sized dynamo that he once was. He was now a pimply 15 years old geek with a much deeper voice. Motown had been grooming him as a solo star much to the detriment of his singing brothers, and between 1971 and 1973 he scored several substantial solo hits including the top five smash “Got To Be There,” “Ben” which was a chart topping hit about a rat from the movie Willard, a cover of the Bobby Day hit “Rockin’ Robin” which climbed to the #2 position on the charts and “I Wanna Be Where You Are,” which went to #16 on the pop charts and #2 on the rhythm and blues charts.

Meanwhile, some of the other brothers were also branching out. Jermaine released a solo record in 1972 that included a cover of the Shep & The Limelites’ hit “Daddy’s Home” which rose up to the top ten of the charts, and Jackie also released solo record the following year. All of this activity was beginning to play on the dynamic within the group in negative ways.

What the group collectively craved most was more control over what they recorded, and more involvement in the making of their records. While they were writing, producing and playing songs in their home studio, Motown wouldn’t let them play on their own records insisting that they use the Motown house band, The Funk Brothers, or The Wrecking Crew (for West Coast sessions). Not only that, they were only allowed to record songs that were chosen for them by “The Corporation.”

Changes needed to be made, and it was within this atmosphere of disillusion that the group’s father and manager, Joe Jackson began to look for a new record deal for his charges.

The group’s 1973 album, GIT: Get It Together, was the first Jackson 5 album to feature lead vocals by each brother.  The album also found the group dipping their collective toes into disco waters by segueing all the songs together in order to provide a non-stop mix of music for dancing.

By far, the best song of the album is today’s Song Of The Day, “Dancing Machine.” The song was an “automatic, systematic” call to the dance floor featuring syncopated funky rhythms and terrific vocal interplay between Michael and the rest of the group who traded off lead vocal lines and sang backup on the track. It was also one of the first songs that Michael employed the vocal hiccup that would end up being one of his lasting trademarks.

Like “Billy Jean” and the moonwalk, “Dancing Machine” also benefitted by an accompanying dance move which helped propel it up the charts.  When the group appeared on Soul Train to promote the album, Michael Jackson was seen doing the robot dance resulting in a spectacle that left fans wanting more.

The song was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1975 for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, but lost out to Rufus’s hit “Tell Me Something Good.” While the other seven tracks on the record were less commercial, the title track was a moderate hit that charted at #28 on the singles charts, and “Hum Along and Dance” became a popular favorite in the group’s live act.

Shortly after the release of the album, the group found themselves riding high in the charts again as background vocalists on Stevie Wonder’s 1974 single “You Haven’t Done Nothin’” from his album Fulfillingness’ First Finale.

The group signed with CBS/Epic Records in 1975 and had to change their name to The Jacksons, since Motown owned the rights to the Jackson 5 name. Jermaine chose to stay on at Motown since he was married to Berry Gordy’s daughter, and was replaced by the youngest Jackson brother, Randy.

While the group’s commercial prospects at CBS weren’t much better, Michael eventually scored a huge hit with the 1979 album Off the Wall, and then came Thriller and The Victory Tour, and Jackson mania swept the world again…

Edited: May 29th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 2/16/13

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Only A Lonely Man Would Know” by Marvin Gaye

The Marvin Gaye albums What’s Going On, Let’s Get It On and Here, My Dear are considered to be his finest by fans and critics alike, and it would be hard to argue the contrary with what’s in the grooves. But it mystifies me that the critics fail to mention the album M.P.G. in the same breath as the others.

M.P.G. came out in April of 1969, and was one of Marvin Gaye’s last records before he took the control of his career away from Motown, and began calling the shots himself. That said, M.P.G. (for Marvin Pentz Gaye, not miles per gallon) was his most consistent release up to that point. It was also his first solo record to make the top 40 of the Billboard Pop album charts, peaking at #33, mainly due to the singles “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby” (#1 R&B/#4 Pop), originally recorded by The Temptations, and “That’s The Way Love Is” (#2 R&B/#7 Pop), also a remake originally recorded by The Isley Brothers.

But it’s the lesser known songs on the album, that are equally as good as the singles, like “It’s A Bitter Pill To Swallow,” “More Than A Heart Can Stand,” “Seek And You Shall Find,” “The End Of Our Road” (a cover of a Gladys Knight & The Pips song) and today’s Song Of The Day, elevating this record head and shoulders taller than the rest of his sixties output.

Of course, much of the Motown magic comes from The Funk Brothers, Motown’s ace studio band, who backed so many artists on their albums, including this one. While there are no musician credits on the record, one can guess that the band was made up of some, or all, of the following musicians: Johnny Griffith and Earl Van Dyke on piano; James Jamerson and Bob Babbitt on bass; Benny “Papa Zita” Benjamin, Uriel Jones and Richard “Pistol” Allen on drums; Robert White, Eddie Willis, Dennis Coffey and Joe Messina (guitar); Paul Riser on trombone; Jack Ashford on percussion; Jack Brokensha on vibraphone and marimba; and Eddie “Bongo” Brown on percussion. Background vocals were undoubtedly provided by The Andantes: Marlene Barrow, Jackie Hicks and Louvain Demps.

And then there’s marvelous Marvin. Plaintive, soulful, emotive, spiritual, seductive, dark and moody…all wrapped up into song, like no one that came before him, and none that have come since.

Edited: February 16th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 5/7/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Keep On Truckin’” by Eddie Kendricks from the 1973 album “Eddie Kendricks”

Originally a member of The Primes (to the Supremes’ Primettes), Kendricks possessed one of the most soulful voices in the group that would later be renamed The Temptations. His angelic falsetto voice climbed the charts numerous times on such classics as “Just My Imagination,” “My Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg,” “Get Ready” and dozens of others too numerous to mention here. He left the Tempts to go solo in 1971 topping the charts in 1973 with this classic that ushered in the era of Disco. This is the long album version of the song for maximum boogie pleasure!

Edited: May 6th, 2012

Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – 3/19/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Got A Job” by The Miracles

Before there was The Miracles, before there was Berry Gordy and before there was Motown, a talented singer and aspiring songwriter named William Robinson formed a group called The Matadors. The Matadors consisted of Bobby Rogers, Ronnie White, Warren Moore, and Claudette Rogers. They met a hungry promoter named Berry Gordy who had his first taste of success by writing the Jackie Wilson hit “Reet Petite.” The Matadors auditioned for Gordy who liked the group, especially their lead singer. When Williams told Gordy that he could write songs, the two sat down and wrote an answer record to The Silhouettes’ 1958 hit “Get A Job.” Gordy thought the name, The Matadors, was far to masculine for a group that featured a vocalist like William Robinson and also a female vocalist, so he changed their name to The Miracles. Gordy negotiated a release of the record on the independent End record label in 1958 and it became a minor hit. With the money earned from the hit record, Gordy went on to found the Motown record label making Robinson the vice-president…so you may say that both Gordy and Smokey Robinson (as he became known) “Got A Job” with the release of the record of the same name.

Edited: March 18th, 2012

Song Of The Day – 6/13/11

Song Of The Day – “There He Is (At My Door)” by The Vells

The Vells featured a secretary from Motown who was asked to fill in at a session for an absent Mary Wells. That gave Martha Reeves her big break that led to singing background on Marvin Gaye’s “Pride And Joy” and eventually to this early recording from 1962. The following year, the newly-named Martha & The Vandellas scored with “(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave.”

Edited: June 13th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 1/7/11

Song Of The Day – “When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You” by Marvin Gaye

This one comes from one of the most emotionally devastating records ever recorded, the 1978 divorce album “Here, My Dear.” During the 1970s, Gaye laid his soul bare for all to partake in on behalf of the world with his 1971 masterpiece “What’s Going On.” In 1974, he took us to the erotic zone with one of the most sexual albums ever released, “Let’s Get It On.” But nothing would prepare fans for the four sides of “Here, My Dear.” Stemming from the painful proceedings that led to his divorce from Motown head Berry Gordy’s daughter Anna, Gaye was court-ordered to part with royalties from his next album release as a form of alimony. Rather than record a chart-topping collection of fun-filled soulful hits, he delivered a musically intricate, play-by-play of his marriage, infidelities and all, with nothing left to the imagination. Anna Gaye considered suing Gaye for invasion of privacy upon its release. In retrospect, the record stands as one of Gaye’s very best. From pain comes great art once again!

Edited: January 7th, 2011