(Written by Clarence Paul)
It’s unlikely the Temptations would ever have cut a record as “the Pirates” were it not for the unusual rush-release circumstances surrounding the A-side, a cover of Nolan Strong’s Mind Over Matter (I’m Gonna Make You Mine), and so it’s unclear where this B-side came from; the most plausible story is that it was a Temptations cut that had either been rejected or held back for a future release, and thus happened to be available when a B-side was needed for the Pirates 7″.
Whatever the story, I’m really glad this found a release slot somewhere, because it’s wholly excellent.
It’s much smoother than the A-side, in every sense. Probably because the group actually had some time to work on this recording, the vocal performances are much better; Paul Williams on lead gives some of his best work yet, while the rest of the Temptations provide the sort of enveloping, dreamlike backing they’d later become famous for.
It’s all in the service of a cracking tune, too, a bouncy, slow-tempo bit of heavy doo-wop inflected rock and roll that just seems to start up and then never come back down again, with an extended bridge in place of a chorus. And what a bridge – the group repeating the words Love you till I die over and over again, gospel style, anchoring the record, keeping things chugging along steadily while Paul goes wild over the top. A lot of these early Temptations records don’t really sound like the group who made them would go on to conquer America, but this one does.
It’s really good.
Supposedly, once Nolan Strong’s record had become a hit, removing the Pirates’ entire raison d’être, this single was flipped over and I’ll Love You Till I Die became the lead side. If that’s true, it’s completely deserved; this would have made a super Temptations single in its own right, and absolutely doesn’t deserve to lie forgotten as a B-side to a cash-in record under a novelty name. Quite possibly the best thing ever to be released on Mel-o-dy Records, and rather splendid to boot.
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!)
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 The Temptations? Click for more.)
“Mind Over Matter (I’m Gonna Make You Mine)”
|Little Stevie Wonder & Clarence Paul
“Little Water Boy”