B-side of Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart
Motown’s first vocal group, the Satintones, ended their career with a whimper rather than a bang; the A-side, a lacklustre R&B remake of Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart, was markedly inferior to their best material, while this B-side – co-written by three of the group along with friend Brian Holland – has a definite air of barrel-scraping about it.
Indeed, if it couldn’t have been definitively proved otherwise, you’d swear this was literally the last Satintones tape left in the vault, dusted off because Motown desperately needed to fill out the B-side of this final single. (In fact, there was plenty of material in the can – enough material for an entire Satintones LP was recorded, but the proposed album was never even sequenced for release, let alone actually issued.)
Opening with a disarmingly off-key rendition of “faded letter”, this is an ominous, slow, pounding ballad with a Latin rhythm pattern; the percussion is all reverberating kettle-drums and tambourines shaken like maracas, with echo-laden detuned piano and strange bursts of backing vocals throughout. More of a sketch than a song, the only Satintones side with a lead vocal sung by Sammy Mack* (and sung ably enough, but hardly a patch on the group’s usual leads Jim Ellis or Vernon Williams), it’s an interesting exercise and no more; inconsequential to the point of pointlessness.
A dispiriting note on which to end a fine career.
* Edit: Now that all of the Satintones’ vault material has finally been released on the excellent 2010 CD compilation The Satintones Sing!, this entry needed a little update; according to the liner notes to that compilation, it’s not Sammy Mack at all, and this was an error on the part of the compilers of The Complete Motown Singles: Volume 1; supposedly, it’s actually Vernon Williams after all. But it sure doesn’t sound like any of Vernon’s other vocals to me, so… who knows, really?
MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
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“Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart”