There’s understandably more than a hint of desperation, therefore, surrounding this release. Virtually Motown’s entire A-list songwriting corps of the time was drafted in to craft Strong a hit, including Hitsville receptionist and Money co-writer Janie Bradford, while the title is a misleading attempt to cash in on the success of Barrett’s one and only hit, albeit eighteen months too late.
I say it’s misleading because Money And Me doesn’t really have much in common with Money; actually, in terms of structure at least, it’s much more like the Isley Brothers’ version of Twist And Shout, except that that record didn’t exist yet (indeed, the Top Notes’ original hadn’t even been released by the time Money And Me came out).
There’s also an incongruous Sixties Caribbean feel to it, complete with irritating “popcorn” percussion, which doesn’t seem to fit either the song or Strong’s vocal style and would have been better left out.
Lyrically, it’s actually the complete opposite of the naked venal greed of Money, as Strong’s narrator describes how he managed to piss his fortune away, and delivers a cautionary tale about the evils of filthy lucre and the pitfalls of getting what you wish for. 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.
Ironically, if Motown had released this a year later, it might have done better on the charts, spurred on by the success of Twist And Shout; instead, as was fast becoming Strong’s regular fate, it went nowhere. Strong would be granted one final Motown single, but by now it must have been obvious to all concerned that his days as a top chart act and potential superstar were over.
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.
(Or maybe you’re only interested in Barrett Strong? Click for more.)
“The Only One I Love”
“You Got What It Takes”