B-side of Exodus
(Written by Victor Schertzinger and Johnny Mercer)
The first ever release on Motown’s new specialist jazz subsidiary, Workshop Jazz Records, was parked firmly in the middle of the road. The A-side, Exodus, for all intents and purposes a Pat Boone cover, had hardly set the hep cats abuzz with excitement, and this B-side – another supposedly “jazz” cover of a whitebread standard, this time a song from the 1942 film The Fleet’s In where it had been sung by Dorothy Lamour – is even wetter.
Save a bit of supper-club piano at the start, and a very understated sax break two thirds of the way through, there’s really not a lot of jazz happening here at all, truth be told. It’s a nice easy listening production, handled well by Mickey Stevenson, but – as with the A-side – it was surely a decidedly dangerous tactic, releasing MOR fluff aimed at middle-class whites to launch a new credible jazz offshoot.
The liner notes to The Complete Motown Singles: Volume 2 describe this as “lightly swinging… a fine idea”, but I can only really agree with the first of those assertions. It does swing, very lightly; Hank and Carol give a pleasant dual-handed Forties-inflected vocal delivery, save for a horribly jarring bum note at the end, and the band’s performance is smooth and practised enough that if you close your eyes, you could be back at a supper club somewhere on the Atlantic seaboard circa 1954; but I’d be hard pushed to say how it was a “fine idea”. Indeed, given the panning I handed out to Marvin Gaye’s similarly cheesy Mr Sandman, I can’t in good conscience give any kind of thumbs up to this.
Hank and Carol Diamond supposedly recorded an entire album’s worth of this sort of vaguely not-really-jazz MOR easy listening stuff, but this single was their one and only release of any kind.
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!)
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