B-side of Jamie
B-side of Jamie
(Released in the UK under license through Fontana Records)
Ah yes. This is much more like it.
The pedestrian pop of the A-side Jamie had propelled Eddie Holland to the pop Top 30 first time out on his return to Motown, but this – the first time Eddie sang a song which sported a writing credit by his little brother Brian – is a whole different proposition, a dramatic, lolloping midtempo R&B ballad featuring some of Brian Holland’s trademark unusual chords as well as one of Motown’s first prominent brass parts.
It’s also strikingly better than the A-side. The backing track is almost country and western in its 4/4 guitar and 6/8 drum patterns, but the maturing Funk Brothers nail all their marks in one of the most professional musical performances Motown had yet seen, a precursor of the time when such perfectionism would be de rigeur at Hitsville sessions.
Meanwhile, Holland is on spectacular vocal form, belting home a cold open totally acapella for a few seconds before the band track starts up, and then delivering the simple lyric with a plaintive, desperate tone, hitting a series of ambitious long high notes. The Jackie Wilson comparisons are easy to make, but that was never a bad thing. All the while, lush layers of female backing singers and a series of unexpected (but somehow perfectly needed) horn flourishes in the chorus combine to wrap him in a quite beautiful little tune. Check out the effect at 1:35, when the backing vocals take up the main vocal line for a one-off shot at the chorus, mixing pop and opera styles all at once, before the brass section comes back in, coming on like a parping bandstand brass band – and yet, again, not incongruous as might be expected.
Choose me, I’m a winner, Eddie exhorts us at 2:01, and you wouldn’t doubt him for a second.
Never commercial enough to be a single, there’s no arguing with the decision to make this the B-side, but it’s so far out in front of Jamie it’s not even funny. A clear statement of intent, both from the singer – who had slogged through two years of flops at United Artists without ever hinting he had this sort of performance in him – and from the writers, each of whom was making a real name for themselves. Quite superb.
MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
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