Motown M 1024 (B), February 1962
B-side of The One Who Really Loves You
(Written by Berry Gordy)
Unlike the glorious A-side The One Who Really Loves You, a brand-new bespoke creation provided by Smokey Robinson which sounds like a huge leap forward for Mary Wells, this B-side – a pleasing but thin confection written and produced by Motown boss Berry Gordy Jr. – was a remaindered album track from Mary’s first LP, Bye Bye Baby I Don’t Want To Take A Chance, recorded the best part of a year (and a musical lifetime) ago.
As a result, while it’s quite charming, it’s immediately recognisable as an earlier artefact. Mary, so captivating and mature on the A-side, sounds really, really unsure of herself, both in terms of the way she sells the song’s storyline (just like on the A-side, her character is worried about her bloke upping sticks and leaving, but she sounds less than confident that this would be a bad move on her part) and in terms of her voice, which is markedly less accomplished here.
Indeed, Mary’s voice is at once the most interesting and also the weakest thing about this record; high, wavering, off-key (but seemingly on purpose – she sings in a sort of rigid minor-key register, in time with the backing but nowhere near it in tune), it’s certainly arresting, but also slightly grating.
A sweet little song, the band turn in a nice performance (the brass break at 1:28 is especially charming), but it’s really very slight, and by the time of its release Mary Wells had definitely already moved on to bigger things and better material.
Bafflingly, in 1965, after Mary had left Motown for good, the label reissued this single (with the same catalogue number) but with I’m Gonna Stay as the A-side. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t sell.
MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
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“The One Who Really Loves You”
“Your Baby’s Back”