Tamla RecordsTamla T 54051 (B), November 1961

B-side of Small Sad Sam

(Written by Robert Gordy)

Label scan kindly provided by Lars “LG” Nilsson - www.seabear.se.  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!The first Motown single by “Bob Kayli” (a.k.a. Robert Gordy, youngest brother of Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr), Small Sad Sam, a dismal cover of a parody of a third naff record, had been an embarrassing failure on both an artistic and commercial level. This B-side, the first Motown record to feature a writing credit for Robert himself, is much better than the A-side.

For a start, it’s not comedy, which is an instant and merciful relief. Instead, it’s an earnest, R&B and blues-inflected cha-cha, which works in practice much better than it sounds in theory. It’s light-hearted, sure, but without ever trying to be funny.

Secondly, it features a much stronger lead vocal; “Kayli” is much more in his element here, delivering his bluesy croon in a competent tenor, rather than aping a white spoken-word comedian.

Thirdly, nobody sounds embarrassed to be doing this. The Supremes again show up on backing vocals, but unlike the A-side (where they were wholly wasted), they’re at least given something to do here, and give it a passable go. The band is on better form as well, with some piano flourishes played with abandon, and maracas shaken throughout.

This shouldn’t be taken as a wholehearted recommendation – it’s not great, not by any means – but it’s nice enough. Nowhere near as bad (or as cringeworthy) as the A-side, at any rate.



(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 Bob Kayli? Click for more.)

Bob Kayli
“Small Sad Sam”
Don McKenzie
“Whose Heart (Are You Gonna Break Now)”