B-side of Way Over There
The original version of this song had come out six months previously on the flip side of the Miracles’ previous single, the hastily-withdrawn The Feeling Is So Fine. Robinson and Gordy both liked the song, and so it was dusted off, re-recorded and pressed into service as the B-side of the following single, Way Over There.
The first version wasn’t really up to much – a pretty but straightforward doo-wop ballad, with Smokey hitting a bewildering series of high notes against a warm, fuzzy backing as the Miracles provided some of their most enveloping harmonies. This version is somehow even fuzzier, and the recording is again poor, once more suffering noticeable levels of distortion on high notes at the top of Smokey’s range, which is unfortunately where he spends much of the song.
The new recording makes everything softer, lusher and more hypnotic; the liner notes to The Complete Motown Singles: Volume 1 describe it as “dreamlike”, and that’s partly apt, since it’s almost a lullaby.
When the time came to release a Miracles album in June 1961, it was the first version (rather than this re-recording) that ended up being used on the LP, Hi, We’re The Miracles. A shame, because this is better than the first version, but I still don’t think there’s actually very much song going on underneath all the harmonising and vocal pyrotechnics. Pretty, though.
* Confusingly, Way Over There was released with the same Tamla catalogue number as The Feeling Is So Fine, meaning that the two distinct versions of (You Can) Depend On Me appeared as B-sides to two different Miracles singles, but both versions share the same catalogue number. Supposedly, these (rather frequent) catalogue cock-ups were to do with the ad-hoc, disorganised nature of Motown’s earliest days, and stopped once Barney Ales got involved and tidied up the marketing and inventory side of things – but it’s hard to shake the feeling they might have been doing this solely to drive collectors crazy some fifty years later. You gits.
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!)
Motown Junkies has reviewed other Motown versions of this song:
- The Miracles (original recording) (September 1959)
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“Way Over There”
“Yes, No, Maybe So”