B-side of Since I Lost My Baby
B-side of Since I Lost My Baby
(Released in the UK under license via EMI / Tamla Motown)
I’ve written before about how, in many ways, I’m both uniquely qualified and also uniquely UN-qualified to be doing this at all. I’m too young, and what’s more I wasn’t raised with this music in my life; when I heard most of these songs for the first time, I had no idea which ones were the big hits, which ones were the forgotten classics, which ones were beloved, and which ones were met with disdain.
For a fine example, look no further than You’ve Got To Earn It, one of the best cases which shows me up for the newbie I am. I had this pegged as a slightly laboured reworking of The Way You Do The Things You Do, a throwback to an earlier time – the sort of thing that might have made quite a good follow-up single back in the spring of 1964, but with the Temptations having moved on so spectacularly and so fast, this – a retread of the same lyrical and musical themes from the big hit – was obsolete before it was born, ending up relegated to a throwaway B-side (almost literally, since it sat on the shelves for a full twelve months before being rescued for release here and subsequently on The Temptin’ Temptations album).
And yet… What I had pegged as an open-and-shut case of likeable filler – mildly diverting, inoffensive, hardly something to linger upon – appears instead to be a long-standing cult fan favourite. It appears on the box set, it appears on best-of compilations, and when the group’s Lost and Found rarities and out-takes anthology was released, well, not only did the compilers unearth a tighter, poppier re-recording from a few months later, but the entire set was titled You’ve Got To Earn It. There’s even a Seventies Stax cover by the Staple Singers. And that’s before I get into the comments here on Motown Junkies which have talked about this as a lost classic of sorts.
This is going to be another one of those times when I upset everyone, isn’t it?
Look, I get this. Although it’s a bit clumsy in its execution (that later version, bouncier and slicker, works better for me), this one has plenty going for it. It’s funny, in the sweet, knowingly corny style of The Way You Do The Things You Do and (to a lesser extent) It’s Growing, Smokey Robinson (here paired with a new name for the blog, the great Cornelius Grant) again packing the lyrics with self-consciously goofy rhyme schemes, Eddie Kendricks again selling the lead vocal with just the right mix of silly and serious to stop the thing collapsing around him, carrying it off with considerable charm. It’s even got a couple of catchy hooks in there – the call-and response chanting in the verses is wonderful:
To get fire from a match
You got to strike it
(Strike it! Strike it! Strike it! Strike it!)
To get the feeling from a kiss
You got to like it
(Like it! Like it! Like it! Like it!)
…and the middle eight, strongly reminiscent of the Don’t call a doctor, a nurse is worse breakdown from the Marvelettes’ You’re My Remedy and featuring a ripping sax solo, is particularly striking:
You’ve got to treat me kind
All the time
Throw the other guys right out of your mind, yeah!
… But it’s redundant. It’s very, very similar to, but nowhere near as good as, The Way You Do The Things You Do; it’s a pale imitation at best, lacking the thrills of the big hit, and by the summer of 1965 its time had surely passed. Its being exhumed now – and having its rough edges and its jokey, heavily lampshaded artifice contrasted with the perfect, open, honest beauty of Since I Lost My Baby, not to mention My Girl – must have been done solely in an attempt to connect past and present, remind people of the Temptations’ more playful, energetic side, but instead all it really does is highlight how out of time and place this record has become.
I do like it. Indeed, there’s not really anything wrong with it at all, it’s absolutely fine as far as pleasingly diverting B-sides go. It’s just the widespread admiration that baffles me. Would I jump up to turn it off? Of course not. Would I pick it out as some sort of highlight? Not in a million years.
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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“Since I Lost My Baby”
“I’ll Always Love You”