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Gordy RecordsUNRELEASED – scheduled for Gordy 7004 (B), June 1962

B-side of Back In My Arms

(Written by Andre Williams, Clarence Paul and Mickey Stevenson)


Neither side of Mississippi blues singer Hattie Littles’ ill-fated, never-released début Motown single was written especially for her. This B-side, produced by the label’s newest hotshot writer/producer recruit, Clarence Paul, the man who’d brought Hattie to Motown in the first place, had originally – bafflingly – been given to Debbie Dean, the label’s first white female solo act.

That bit of trivia boggles the mind, because in the early Sixties Debbie Dean was usually given inoffensive material to appeal to white audiences, stuff that suburban white kids could play without offending their parents; this, as rendered by Hattie Littles and the Motown house band, is a raucous, fast-paced R&B/blues workout, with heavy touches of Forties and Fifties bebop, and featuring minor-key gospel and doo-wop harmonies from the backing vocalists in a faintly eerie melody; it’s a record which features Hattie almost screaming the lyrics in places, a record which breaks down into a full-on jazz instrumental jam at 1:29.

I have no idea what the hell Debbie Dean would have done with this, though her version never made it past Quality Control and was quietly shelved; Hattie Littles at least fared a little better, getting as far as having this single slated for release before it was pulled.

Interesting, fast-paced fun, too slight to be a single in its own right, but a good opportunity for singer and band to let their hair down; I’m just very intrigued to know what it sounded like before Hattie got to record it.

VERDICT

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6 / 10

(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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Hattie Littles
“Back In My Arms”
Gino Parks
“Fire”