B-side of First I Look At The Purse
(Written by Clarence Paul)
B-side of First I Look At The Purse
(Released in the UK under license through EMI / Tamla Motown)
In some ways a continuation of what we heard on the A-side, the daffy First I Look At The Purse, and in other ways the complete polar opposite: for better or worse, lyrically, musically and historically, Searching For A Girl is the sound of the Contours of old.
Recorded back in 1962 (and sounding even older), this is a throwback to another time: the Contours as heard on this side had since effectively split up, lead singer Billy Gordon (again in fine raspy voice here) “reforming” the group with an all-new line-up of Contours as heard on the other side (eventually joined by former member Sylvester Potts, to balance the numbers a bit). But on this side, these guys are still the great dancers who cut raw, slightly shambolic, slightly stumbling blues rock on the side; Searching For A Girl was recorded after the group had hit the big time with Do You Love Me, and there’s a confident swagger about it, but also a lumpy roughness which doesn’t quite work the way it’s meant to.
So. A man who’s Searching For A Girl – just like the guy in First I Look At The Purse, I suppose, but this narrator is out for love rather than money:
I’m searching for a girl
That’s gonna love me
She don’t have to be pretty
She don’t have to be smart
But got to be pure at heart
- and even stranger, he’s already in a relationship.
It starts out in ripping fashion, a turbocharged dancer in the style of It Must Be Love, Billy Gordon tearing into his current partner in a second-person rant, culminating in a threat to leave (“I’m gonna walk right out that door / And I ain’t comin’ back no more”)… and then the whole song collapses in on itself, stumbling a bit as we go through a complete change of pace and rhythm and the song devolves into a midtempo blues rock cycle, not unlike those we heard from the Merced Blue Notes a few months ago.
(Actually, if I may digress a moment, it reminds me a bit of The Godfather Part II, the way it keeps cutting between what are effectively two different storylines – the harsh buzz of the verses and then the much mellower atmosphere of the chorus; hell followed by heaven.)
Because almost the entire second half of the song is taken up with an extended chorus section, it can feel as though the whole record only really consists of just the chorus (Searching for a girl / Who’s gonna love me / Searching for a girl…) repeated over and over again like some weird Polynesian chant. Which is a shame, because it’s the less interesting of the two half-songs on display here; it gets dull pretty fast, and even without it being stretched into an extended and unnecessary coda, it’d be hard to escape the feeling this has all been done already.
But this is a museum piece, an artefact, something plucked from the vaults solely because the lyrics are superficially similar. It has no relevance to the future of the Contours; whilst it’s not bad or offensive, its lack of momentum means it’s just sort of there, a fun but forgettable bit of filler.
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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“First I Look At The Purse”
“The Tracks Of My Tears”