B-side of Because I Love Her
The Valadiers were Motown’s first white vocal group, signed during the last days of the golden age of doo-wop, and only remembered for their first release, the #89 smash hit (Greetings) This Is Uncle Sam, later covered to far better effect by the Monitors. The A-side of this record, Because I Love Her, the group’s second Motown single, was an adequate, uninspiring cover of an old Eddie Holland song. Perhaps that lack of “oomph” was a result of taking the group out of their doo-wop comfort zone, though, because this – a straightforward late-Fifties doo-wop ballad with more strictly defined group harmony parts – is roughly twenty times better than the A-side, as well as being by far the best thing the Valadiers ever recorded.
That’s not to say it’s a great record, or anything, but it’s a fine go at making a great record. It’s alive, certainly, and it’s enjoyable to listen to.
Like all great doo-wop ballads, it’s a piano-led piece in 6/8 time, featuring arpeggios and based around a standard set of chords (often called the Fifties Progression), meaning that it initially sounds like a thousand other similar records off the street-corner production line. However, what sets this one apart is a clever arrangement – the basic skeleton masked by some warm, rich electric guitar and judicious use of horns – and a cracking chorus, courtesy of the first appearance on a Motown label of a writing credit for the great Clarence Paul. He’d go on to achieve fame and fortune writing and producing for the young Stevie Wonder, but this (co-produced by Paul with Andre Williams) was his Motown starting point.
Lyrically, this is a direct sequel to (Greetings) This Is Uncle Sam; having accepted his fate, our drafted narrator begs his girl to stay true to him While (He’s) Away – shades of Marvin Gaye’s sweet little vignette Soldier’s Plea – and, well, that’s pretty much it. But lead singer Stuart Avig sells it with something at least approaching passion, and the chorus blooms into life with a throaty, committed delivery quite unlike anything seen on Valadiers records in the past – Just keep my picture / On the wall / And oh, please, please don’t give it to no-one at all – which makes one overlook the poor scansion.
It’s still not particularly amazing, but it is a fine little pop record, and I stand by the assertion the Valadiers never bettered it.
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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“Because I Love Her”
|Little Stevie Wonder
“I Call It Pretty Music But The Old People Call It The Blues (Part 1)”