Weird (which I wholeheartedly approve of), but also faintly rubbish (which I don’t). (4)
If the stellar, never-to-be-recaptured magic of their début single had been something of a quirk, a statistical oddity if not an outright fluke, then in many ways the Marvelettes’ story really begins right here. (6)
A disappointing waste of both a good song and a good vocalist, paired together wholly inappropriately and satisfying no-one. (3)
Ultimately, it’s not terrible, but the Marvelettes had come down from a whole different level to get here.
Despite initial appearances to the contrary, there’s not much to report going on here song-wise.
Motown’s first white vocal group; on this evidence, they were also pretty ordinary singers compared to some of their Motown labelmates, even if they were above average by the not-terribly-high standards of white Sixties doo-wop groups.
A clear statement of intent, both from the singer – who had slogged through two years of flops at United Artists without ever hinting he had this sort of performance in him – and from the writers, each of whom was making a real name for themselves. Quite superb. (8)
An interesting exercise and no more; inconsequential to the point of pointlessness. [...click title to read more]
A disappointingly straightforward rocker with little to commend it; opening with an unexpected guitar solo, it quickly settles into a shuffling R&B/blues-influenced groove and then fails to go anywhere at all. [...click title to read more]
Not a patch on the A-side, and Wanda’s incredibly high pitched falsetto vocals are actually painful to listen to in places.
This is just about as good as any pop record that had ever been made up to that point, and while it would still be years before Motown approached anywhere near this level of quality on every release, it’s still an essential inclusion in any Motown best-of shortlist. In a word: marvellous. (10)
It’s an indicator of where the HDH stable would eventually ply its trade: knocking out a straight pop song with a strong hook and effortless charm, but twisted ever so slightly so that the tune grabs the ear and forms the beginning of an involuntary smile.
This is the last great doo-wop record, a fitting monument to a dying art as well as a superb single in its own right, and the fact that it was only released because Motown were sued into withdrawing a third-rate Shirelles knock-off is one of the luckiest of all the label’s lucky scrapes with history.
Neither engaging or likeable, this is one of the most thoroughly forgettable of all Motown B-sides, making it especially ironic that it ended up being used three times. Poor.
The flip of Raynoma Liles Gordy (“Miss Ray”)’s only Motown single is a strange affair; having turned in a charming if slightly technically-challenged lead vocal on the plug side, here she offers up a keyboard “solo” on a brief, thin instrumental. (I’m assuming the keyboard part is hers, there’s no indication in the liner notes as to who played what).
It seems to be intended as a gentle bit of comedy, but Strong delivers it deadpan and without flair so that it falls flat on its arse, preachy and unfunny. Unusual for all that songwriting talent to miss the mark so comprehensively; a case of too many cooks, perhaps. (3)
You could easily picture this having made the pop Top 30 in 1961; instead, sadly, it sank without trace, and its performer joined the ever-growing ranks of Motown chart flop acts. Lumpkin, at least, would be given a further chance to prove himself. (7)
One of the bottom five worst Motown records of all time, the best thing you can say about Hold Me Tight is that at least Gordy had the balls to admit his mistake in releasing it in the first place, and acted quickly to put this terrible record out of its misery. (1)
After the slightly ropey harmonising on the previous Satintones records, this one shows that these guys really could do tight harmonies and complicated arrangements after all. Rather unexpectedly, this turns out to be one of the best ’59/’60 Motown singles, all the more welcome for being a surprise. (9)