B-side of Don’t Feel Sorry For Me
(Written by Jimmy Ruffin)
Based around a “spelling out” gimmick (“H is for the heart that I gave to you / E is for ever, ever true / A is for always, always I think of you, I think of you”) which gets tired almost straight away, wears thin after a couple of lines and then begins to seriously grate around the start of the second verse, it’s a real understatement for me to say this is a much weaker song than Don’t Feel Sorry For Me; this is a straight-down-the-line doo-wop with little to commend it. Even Ruffin’s voice, so natural and expressive on the A-side, so full of potential, is just a dismal off-key caterwaul here.
(A caterwaul, incidentally, for which there’s no excuse; Ruffin wasn’t as young as some of his Motown vocalist brethren, being on the cusp of turning 22 as this single was released, and he had plenty of singing experience with his family group and more recently around Detroit. I’m going harder on Jimmy here because I know – hell, we all know – that he could do so much better, even at that time. The A-side proves it.)
Possibly the record might have been improved by a fuller backing, which would have covered a multitude of sins in Ruffin’s naff delivery. Instead, producer Raynoma Liles Gordy (“Miss Ray”), the musical director of Motown’s short-lived Miracle subsidiary, chose to strip back the band for this B-side (the band who had sounded so engaging and full of beans – and Beans – on the sax-laden A-side… hmm, what an obscure joke), and she further made the questionable call not to use any backing vocals at all.
The result is a sparse bit of third-rate pedestrian doo-wop filler which would have been rejected by Motown’s Quality Control meetings had it been recorded even a year later. It doesn’t sound tense, raw, intimate, minimal, low-key, or any of the other adjectives usually applied to pared-down recordings; it just sounds awful. Avoid.
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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“Don’t Feel Sorry For Me”
“Don’t Let Him Shop Around”