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Tamla RecordsTamla T 54071 (B), August 1962

B-side of Someday Pretty Baby

(Written by Janie Bradford and Richard “Popcorn” Wylie)


Scan kindly provided by Gordon Frewin.  All label scans come from visitor contributions - if you'd like to send me a scan I don't have, please e-mail it to me at fosse8@gmail.com!A much slower, somewhat more traditional blues than the midtempo A-side Someday Pretty Baby, this B-side – a conscious attempt by its writers, Hitsville receptionist Janie Bradford and her regular writing partner of the time “Popcorn” Wylie, to try their hand at the blues – sat in the can for nine months before finding its way into stores, by which time Wylie had left the company.

Not to be confused with Gladys Knight and the Pips’ Seventies hit single of the same name, this one is a plea for commitment from the narrator’s his wavering girlfriend. The band gives another excellent performance, a strong, almost morose minor-key blues, but done with an unmistakeably contemporary R&B flavour; if it’s not as commercial or accessible as the A-side (which itself was hardly likely to trouble the pop chart compilers), it’s still enjoyable stuff. I’ll leave any arguments over “authenticity” for more hardcore blues fans than me.

The lyrics are trite in places (You tell me the truth, then you tell me a lie / First you say “hello”, and then you say “goodbye”), perhaps belying the writers’ R&B/pop backgrounds (again, this isn’t an authenticity thing, just an observation), although there is a fantastic verse in the middle (“Got a sign on my window, says “full-time employment” / The work is dirty, and there’s full-time enjoyment / You gotta stay on the pace to please the boss / Seven days a week, not a Sunday off…”) that raises a smile.

Sammy, though, leaves absolutely nothing behind, wearing his heart on his sleeve, shouting and even screaming his delivery in places to the point you can hear the pain in his throat. As always, he’s mesmerising.

The ending is the best bit, first a call-and-response part at 2:05 – I don’t want nobody’s (No!) / I don’t want nobody’s (No!) – with Sammy screaming his throat raw on the third pass, followed by a melismatic finalé in which Ward, clearly exhausted and with his voice now shot, nonetheless manages to stretch the words “part time love” over nearly sixteen seconds and about fifty syllables, presumably before collapsing in a heap on the floor. The vulnerability in his spent voice is especially touching, giving a slightly different slant to the butch machismo of the earlier lyrics: any indifference is a sham, he really wants the girl.

Not as good as the A-side, but it’s quality stuff and plenty of fun nonetheless, as well as a reminder that Motown in 1962 still hadn’t given up on the blues.

MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT

7/10

(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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Singin’ Sammy Ward
“Someday Pretty Baby”
Hattie Littles
“Your Love Is Wonderful”