B-side of Mo Jo Hanna
(Written by Clarence Paul)
The B-side of the last Motown hurrah for the excellently-named Henry Lumpkin is a jaunty, relatively restrained R&B pop number that reminds me of a couple of other records without ever managing to be as good as any of them.
The melody and rhythm in the verses reminds me of the Supremes’ underwhelming second single, the alleged “comedy” effort Buttered Popcorn, whilst the chorus (which features an awkward, poorly-executed change of tempo) has more than a touch of the Isley Brothers’ Shout about it. The whole thing sounds rushed and sloppy; notes are missed, marks are overshot, and there’s a slightly perfunctory and somewhat jarring sax break at 2:10 which threatens to derail proceedings altogether.
The lyrics are simplistic rhyming-dictionary slop, but I do like the conceit behind them – Lumpkin’s narrator, being a rugged, macho Man’s Man, doesn’t want people to see him crying, so every time he feels like bursting into tears, he wills himself instead to burst into song. He commends this approach to everyone – “Tell me that a song is a very good cure for the blues”, he sings, and that strikes a chord. (Kind of reminds me of Stevie Wonder’s magnificent I Gotta Have A Song many years later.)
Otherwise, there’s not much to see here. Lumpkin’s performance isn’t worthy of consideration alongside his better displays, and the band are off form throughout (not just that dreadful sax solo, though that’s the most glaring example). But this sort of record, with its heavy blues inflection, its raw, untutored vocals and instrumentation, and its clumsy attempts at a dancehall sound, was already starting to seem like a relic by Motown standards; by now, the company had fixed its eyes on a different prize, and the pop charts awaited.
* * * * * * * * * *
3 / 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.
(Or maybe you’re only interested in Henry Lumpkin? Click for more.)
“Mo Jo Hanna”