Hrmm. Right. Well.
Not to be confused with surf rockers Nick & the Jaguars, who had one Motown single released back in 1959, these are pedestrian doo-woppers Lee & the Leopards, who had one Motown single released here in 1962.
Neither group’s records were all that good, mind you.
“Lee” was Lee Henry Moore, I’m reliably informed by the liner notes to The Complete Motown Singles: Volume 2, but the identities of the Leopards remain a mystery; the only one to have been positively identified so far is Prentiss Anderson, a Memphis-based singer who was briefly in William Bell’s group the Del-Rios, who also had a record out on Stax in 1962 (Just Across The Street), presumably not featuring a moonlighting Prentiss Anderson. Is anyone still following this?
Anyway, this song was apparently brought to Motown by Moore for a one-off deal, “polished” by some senior Motown writers (Brian Holland and Mickey Stevenson, by now two of the label’s best writing talents; Stevenson was also tapped to become Motown’s A&R director at this time). Once recorded, the song was later covered by both the Supremes and Brenda Holloway; not only that, it was actually one of a tiny handful of Motown records leased by another label for re-issue on their own imprint, being re-released on Laurie Records (left) in late 1963.
I have no idea what all those people saw in this record, because it’s baffling to me that anyone would be so interested in a dated, thin doo-wop dancer, another failed Motown attempt to re-do the Marcels’ Blue Moon and about half as charming.
It opens with a stumbling take-off of the scat bass intro from Blue Moon, which doesn’t quite scan right, forcing the bass singer (whoever he is) to clumsily skip two beats halfway through (“Bom-bom-bom / Mack-a-tack-a-tack-come-right-back / To the pa-lace / My love, bom-bom-bom”), which is hardly promising – but then things take an entirely unexpected turn. Rather than continuing in the fast-paced R&B vein of the anticipated Marcels rip-off, instead there’s a jarring tempo change and what sounds like an entirely different record kicks in, discarding the intro carelessly and launching instead into a midtempo schmaltzy pop ballad.
It sounds like another bid for the favour of white radio, more than anything else, calculated not to offend or excite too much – both in the vocalist’s soulless diction, and in the safe, wet direction the song seems to have wandered into, pulling back from the brink of joyful abandon and into a much blander place. As you’ve probably gathered from my dismissive tone, I don’t care for it.
The raucous vocal riff from the intro strikes up again for the chorus, jarring with the gentler, MOR style of the first verse and leading to an ungainly and uncomfortable gluing-together of two different songs, neither of them wholly compatible with the other and neither of them satisfying. The second verse is a little better, a little more alive, sounding as though it’s sung by a different lead vocalist than had taken the soporific first verse, but it’s still not fantastic.
There’s no meat to it, which makes me wonder why Motown were keen to cut it again on two more artists – it’s not as though it gives a vocalist room to really express themselves, show off their technique, or to put their own creative stamp on the song. It’s not even as if anyone could wring an emotional punch out of the lyrics, which are based around a half-joke – roughly paraphrasing, I’ll treat you like a queen, so come to my house, which will then be your palace – and don’t develop the idea any further.
This was the first and only release for Moore’s Leopards on Motown, though they had a further single out in 1964, Don’t Press Your Luck on Fortune.
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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“All The Love I’ve Got”
|Lee & The Leopards
“Trying To Make It”