b/w Sugar Daddy
Often considered the first “proper” release on the Motown Records label, since the Miracles’ excellent Bad Girl only saw limited numbers pressed before being licensed to Chess for national distribution, My Beloved was the Satintones’ second Motown single and a marked improvement over the previous effort, the comedy doo-wop/R&B of Going To The Hop.
Almost as though the sterling efforts of the Miracles had put the Satintones’ shambolic first outing to shame, this is a resounding riposte; an openly-admitted attempt to emulate the Drifters and There Goes My Baby (and here’s where I’d put the customary YouTube link, except the only YouTube coverage of There Goes My Baby seems to be a terrible 1980s re-record, so… no), this is actually superior to the Drifters’ record, Jim Ellis knocking the lead vocal right out of the park with splendid gusto, his interplay with co-writer Robert Bateman’s superb deep bass some of the best vocal harmony work thus far seen on a Motown record. It is, rather surprisingly, an excellent song.
It did nothing on commercial release, but – as you’ll see if you keep reading this blog – many of the best Motown single recordings were either commercial flops or hidden on B-sides. Or, more often than not, hidden on B-sides of commercial flops.
This one comes in two distinct flavours (both of which, unhelpfully, share a catalogue number): the slightly cheap-sounding, rough and ready original, and a much lusher, more filled-out string-laden arrangement from early 1960 (which the compilers of The Complete Motown Singles: Volume 1 set clearly regard as inferior to the original). Me, I much prefer the “with strings” version; the difference is most apparent in the intro, where I think the original’s shaky, warbly Ondioline organ solo is just blown out of the water by the new version’s majestic string quartet/kettledrum overture, but I think the strings back up the group throughout the record more richly than on the original, giving it a real added impact.
Still, you pays yer money, you takes yer choice. They’re both really good, and show that after the slightly ropey harmonising on the previous Satintones records, 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.
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!)
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“(You Can) Depend On Me” (first version)