CLASSICS: MOTOWN RARITIES
You know, there are many, many, MANY songs from both MJ & the Jackson 5 that are my favorites. However, I do think “Farewell My Summer Love” had tipped the scale slightly. The song was a live performance released in 1984. The moment I heard the first note, I noticed that Michael’s voice sounded a lot younger than it should. For awhile I thought the 45 was recorded at a slightly higher speed that made him sound that way. Then I found out that the song was actually recorded in 1973, but wasn’t commercially released until 1984. This definitely would have been a major hit, I wonder why they waited 11 years to do it? Probably copyright agreements no doubt. I fond it very interesting that the song did much better in the UK than in the U.S. The song reached only #38 on the U.S. Top 40; but in the UK it hit #7 on their Top 10. I find it fascinating how different parts of the world view each other’s music. I think it should have been much bigger in the U.S. than it was. However, it may have been also true, that the song was overshadowed by the popularity of then “Thriller” album.
“Jimmy Mack,” from Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, was probably one of their most popular hits during their very, very short career together. The song was from the album called “Watchout!” It was released in 1966, under the Gordy label, a subdivision of Motown. It’s a simple and easy song to sing and dance to. It’s about a girl who misses her man, and expresses how much she wants him to come home and see her. Listening to these lyrics, reminds me a lot of those military songs that were popular during the 50s and 60s. The song peaked at number 10 on the Hot 100 Chart, and number 1 on the R&B Charts in 1967. This had to have been a really, REALLY popular song, because I wasn’t even born yet when this song was released, yet I still remembered hearing it on the radio a lot. There’s only one other song from this album I like, and that is called “I’m Ready For Love.” For some reason, the beat of this song reminds me of Diana Ross’s “Can’t Hurry Love.” But then again, Motown music had it’s own distinct sound.
Here is another extremely rare Steve Wonder Song. In 1966, Stevie released a song called “Hey Love,” on the “Down To Earth” album, for Motown Records. Despite the fact that this song only peaked at #90 on the Hot 100 Charts, I feel it’s still a very nice song. Actually the album itself wasn’t one of Stevie’s top albums, but like I said, it’s still an enjoyable album for Stevie fans. Also, let me draw your attention to yet again the same classic I spoke of before. “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down),” written by the late Sonny Bono, and performed by his then wife Cher. This seemed like one of those “go to songs” when artists needs remake something. 😀 I do like his interpretation tho. I would guess that probably the song that became the biggest hit from this album is called “A Place In The Sun.” This peaked at #29, and stayed on the charts for about 4 weeks.
Boy, it seems I’ve been on a Motown kick for the last two-three weeks. Well, I guess why not? They’ve made some awesome music during the time of their reign. Today, I’d like to write about one of my favorite songs from Brenda Holloway called “Every Little Bit Hurts,” released in 1964. This song peaked @ #3 on the R&B charts, and stayed relevant for 14 weeks. This song was HUGE in the early 60s, yet now it’s considered a forgotten gem. I absolutely love the dramatic music composition, and Brenda delivered the emotion of this song superbly. Aretha Franklin recorded a nice version of this song. Well, then again, almost everything Aretha sings was on point back in the day. Alicia Keys also recorded a nice version, however, all I can find is the live version. I know she has a studio version because I saw the video for it. It must be that good o’l copyright license bullsh** shutting Alicia down. It’s a shame cause I really liked her version too. 🙁 On a lighter note, check out Motown: The DVD from Amazon. It’s a DVD of performances from legendary Motown artists, which includes Brenda Holloway.
You know, I have to be honest, I was never really a huge fan of Jermaine Jackson’s music. There were really only 3 songs I liked from him. The first song was called, “Let’s Be Young Tonight,” recorded in 1976 under the Tamla Motown (UK) label. This was one of my top favorite disco songs from that year. Its highest peak was #19 on the R&B charts. Very few disco songs do I consider a romantic song. This record was perfect to play while out on a honeymoon night. Back from that, the only two other songs that came after I really liked were the following, “Let’s Get Serious,” which is a groovy funk type song that peaked @ #9 on the charts; and then there’s “Do What You Do,” another very popular song in 1985 that peaked @ #14. For you Jermaine Jackson fans out there, check out Jermaine Jackson’s – Dynamite Videos on DVD on Amazon.
On the Jackson 5 album titled “ABC,” there is a cute song rarely heard called “2-4-6-8,” released in 1970. It is strange that I don’t remember hearing this one the radio. Maybe it’s because I was only 3 years old when this song came out? But usually you’d continue to hear a major artist’s song off and on at least 3 years once it’s been on the charts. So even at age 6 I’d think I would remember. Not sure… The first time I heard this song, was actually when I was watching their cartoon special called “The Jackson 5ive.” I was so tickled, because it was my first time ever watching a cartoon character really dance. I believe this was the first time I ever saw a “Black” cartoon; and “Fat Albert came soon after. “The Jackson 5ive” was a fun cartoon where all the Jackson characters get in to all kinds of mischief. There were many other big hits from this album such as “I Found That Girl,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save,” and finally “I Don’t Know Why I Love You,” which was originally written and performed by the legendary Stevie Wonder.
The song called “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” was released in November of 1968. Within about two months, the song shot up to #2 on the American Billboard’s Top 100 Charts; and also peaked #3 on UK’s single charts. It’s hard to believe that a song that was once popular as it was, is virtually unheard of by most, if not all the current generation of music lovers. This song was HUGE, not just because it was a hit, but because the song was sung by two of the biggest acts under the Motown label. This was one of my very favorite songs growing up. The song was written by Kenneth Gamble and Jerry Ross, and was originally recorded in 1966, under Mercury Records by Dee Dee Warwick, Dionne Warwick’s sister, and cousin of the late Whitney Houston. Dee Dee’s recording of the song peaked at #13 on the R&B charts.
You know, I’ve always had mixed feelings concerning Diana Ross. It was well known that she was not a very nice person (and probably still the case); not to mention claiming that she was the one who “discovered” the Jackson 5. Sorry to all the Diana Ross fans, but, I never saw her as a talented singer. I mean, not in the sense of Aretha Franklin talent, or Gladys Knight, or even a Chaka Khan. I don’t think her career would have been as successful as it was, had it not been for Barry Gordy. Sorry, just my opinion. But that doesn’t mean I think she didn’t have great music, however, that’s just it, without that great music, her voice was just mediocre to average. I’ve always felt that she was a better actress than she was a singer, and her role as Billie Holiday, in the cult classic movie “Lady Sings The Blues” proves that hands down. The movie grossed over $20M, and her soundtrack album grossed about over $2M, that’s pretty huge for what is in essence a biographical film. Although, to my understanding, the entire soundtrack “Lady Sings The Blues” was a #1 hit; however, one of the most memorable and profound songs from that soundtrack “Good Morning Heartache,” only peaked at #34 and stayed on the charts for 12 weeks in 1973.