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TamlaTamla T 54030 (B), September 1960

B-side of What Makes You Love Him
and Who’s The Fool

(Written by Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson)


Scan kindly provided by Gordon Frewin, reproduced by arrangement.  All label scans come from visitor contributions - if you'd like to send me a scan I don't have, please e-mail it to me at fosse8@gmail.com!Motown’s very own blues man, Singin’ Sammy Ward, had turned in a smoother-than-usual 4am loungecore blues for his Tamla début single What Makes You Love Him; the tension on that side is palpable at times, as Ward seems to be hankering to ratchet up the intensity and break out of the commercial straitjacket and into one of his trademark sore-throated near-screams.

Here on the flip, perhaps in return for having mostly kept it tucked away throughout the A-side, he gets to indulge in a full-on raw blues shakedown.

Easily louder and rougher than the previous most raucous Motown rocker – Barrett Strong’s surprisingly unrestrained Money (That’s What I Want) – this starts out as if it’s going to be a continuation of the more genteel A-side before an unstoppable barrel-roll of pounding piano and thudding drums crashes in, the Funk Brothers clearly revelling in being let off the leash for once. The backing track goads Ward on, sending his voice off to the outer fringes of fierce, screaming blues.

(Certainly beyond the outer fringes of the shoddy, makeshift recording equipment in Hitsville’s Studio A at the time; Ward’s vocals frequently cause noticeable distortion as he hits the highest, loudest notes. The microphone set-up apparently just wasn’t up to the job of capturing such a frantic, loud performance).

There’s always the nagging feeling that everyone on the record was having more fun making it than you are actually listening to it – but not by very much. It’s good to let your hair down once in a while.

The success of this rollicking blues number may have influenced Berry Gordy’s decision to replace the original A-side, What Makes You Love Him, with a harder (but still radio-friendly) blues, Who’s The Fool. It turned out to be the right call; the new plug side ended up being a Top 30 R&B hit.

MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT

6/10

(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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Singin’ Sammy Ward
“What Makes You Love Him”
Singin’ Sammy Ward
“Who’s The Fool”