b/w Don’t Leave Me
(Written by Henry Lumpkin and Carolyn Strong)
The excellently-named Henry Lumpkin had to wait over a year for a follow-up to his first Motown single, I’ve Got A Notion, released in January of 1961; in the meantime, he’d been co-opted into a short-lived new vocal trio, “Hank, Gino & Bob”, with Gino Parks and Satintone Robert Bateman, but that plan had been scrapped before their debut single Blibberin’ Blabbin’ Blues, now credited to Parks solo, saw a release. The extremely early, out-of-sequence Motown catalogue number on this single suggests it was originally planned for release much earlier than January 1962.
It’s a shame Henry’s Motown career never really got off the ground; as mentioned previously, his physique (described by Parks as “hefty” in the liner notes to The Complete Motown Singles: Volume 2) might have been an obstacle to solo superstardom in an increasingly image-driven business, or perhaps there just wasn’t room for another teenage R&B singer-songwriter in the Motown stable at the time for Lumpkin to receive a proper promotional push. Whatever the reason, he certainly had the raw materials for success.
The company clearly thought so, not only giving him a second solo single release, but also letting him do it with his own song. The result: a bluesy, slinky R&B number, much in the vein of the stuff later cut by Shorty Long for the Soul Records subsidiary.
Henry gives it 100%, turning in a raw-throated blues delivery over a less intense, more pop-flavoured R&B rhythm bed (and some rollicking Nawlins boogie-woogie tack piano thrown in for good measure), letting loose with a full-on howl when the music calls for it.
Lumpkin’s lyrics are good fun, too. A particular highlight comes when he starts riffing on the lyrics of Jack and Jill Went Up The Hill (no, really), and adds a sandpaper-rough postscript – She picked him up, and set him right / I said, ah, now she’s lovin’ him day and night – but the whole thing is worthy of a smile or two, especially when he changes the “woman” in the title to “lover” (“He’s like a book without a cover / He’s like a child without a mother / Now that’s a man / Oh that’s a man / Without a lover”).
Once again, the record wasn’t a success, and once again Motown weren’t deterred; there was never a Henry Lumpkin LP, but another single did see the light of day later in the year.
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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“I’m Yours, You’re Mine”
“Don’t Leave Me”