(Released in the UK under license through EMI / Stateside Records)
That Motown hedged their bets and released two Jerk records one right after the other isn’t too surprising; making money on the back of a faddish craze is a tricky thing, and you can’t blame the company for backing more than one horse in the hope that at least one of these things might catch.
No, the surprise is that, having already had the Contours cut a Jerk record – a natural fit, given that they were Motown’s resident “dance” group in the first place – Motown then tasked Smokey Robinson and the Miracles with doing almost the exact same thing.
The result is a mildly diverting, utterly forgettable piece of fluff, a glorified jam whose only real redeeming feature is giving Smokey a rare opportunity to cut loose on louder, faster material. Otherwise, it’s a total waste of everyone involved, and – not coincidentally – it ends up as the weakest Miracles single to date.
This shares many similarities with the Miracles’ previous “rock out” on a Motown 45, the equally forgettable You’re So Fine And Sweet (Spike Whited, the Miracles’ touring drummer who co-wrote that song, even pitches in with another songwriting contribution here, as if to emphasise the connection) – but that was a B-side, a diversion, an excuse to show off a side of the group the non-concertgoing public didn’t often get to hear.
This, on the other hand, is a banner single from one of Motown’s banner acts, in a year when Smokey had already given away to other people such killer songs as My Guy, The Way You Do The Things You Do, Better Late Than Never, You’re My Remedy, and Who You Gonna Run To (and with My Girl still to come); and even the Miracles themselves had come up with the goods during the year, Smokey turning in beautiful performances on both sides of the glass with I Like It Like That and Would I Love You. Compared to any of those, Come On Do The Jerk is an unfunny joke.
Essentially, if the lovely That Day When She Needed Me is the Contours pretending to be the Miracles, then Come On Do The Jerk is the Miracles pretending to be the Contours, and coming off very much second best.
Now, I’m not against the idea of musical genii making lunkheaded dance music, and this would be forgivable – cause for celebration, even – if it was a good dance record, but it’s not. Smokey sounds self-conscious, almost as though he’s embarrassed to be doing this, and the track’s energy level never really gets up to the Miracles’ own previous rockers like Shop Around or Mickey’s Monkey, never mind the best of the Contours.
Indeed, The record is actually relatively sedate from a vocal perspective, and it’s revealing to note that in a year’s time, the Miracles would write the far superior Going To A Go-Go as a direct replacement for the ageing Mickey’s Monkey in their live sets – clearly, Come On Do The Jerk was never up to the job.
It’s just not something I really envisage ever coming back to. I don’t know whether this was ever included in any Miracles “Greatest Hits”-type collection, but they’d have to have scraped the barrel pretty damned seriously before this would be among the best available material to choose from – maybe it might find a place on Even More of The Best of the Miracles, Volume 6 or something, if everything else had already been used up. It’s not very good, is what I’m saying.
It’s got a catchy little hook, and I can imagine it’s probably quite good fun when you’re drunk, but otherwise there’s really nothing to see here. A waste of the talents of everyone involved, wafer-thin and surprisingly ill-suited to its lead singer; even Smokey isn’t taking this seriously, so there’s really no reason we should bother.
MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
(I’ve had MY say, now it’s your turn. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment, or click the thumbs at the bottom there. Dissent is encouraged!)
You’re reading Motown Junkies, an attempt to review every Motown A- and B-side ever released. Click on the “previous” and “next” buttons below to go back and forth through the catalogue, or visit the Master Index for a full list of reviews so far.
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“That Day When She Needed Me”
“Baby Don’t You Go”