B-side of Shake Sherrie
(Written by Berry Gordy)
B-side of Shake Sherrie
(Released in the UK under license through Oriole Records)
As with the A-side, Shake Sherrie, this is a fairly brazen attempt by Motown boss Berry Gordy to recreate the success of the Contours’ previous single, their big-selling chart breakthrough hit Do You Love Me.
Listening to the two sides of this single, it seems plausible that Gordy had two different ideas on how to follow up the big hit, and wrote two “soundalike sequels”, each containing some, but not all, of the main ingredients – different ingredients – from Do You Love Me. Putting them both on the same single, he hedged his bets; if the DJs didn’t go for the A-side, maybe they’d flip the record over and make You Better Get In Line a hit instead.
This side borrows a few features from Do You Love Me that the A-side had ditched (the spoken-word intro, the exact same tempo, the aaah-ahhh-ahhh harmonies) and adds an even more generous helping of Twist And Shout for good measure.
What Gordy added with one hand, though, he took away with the other: the urgency and fun of the big hit is almost completely absent here, as Billy Gordon fails to inject his would-be raucous shouted lead with any enthusiasm, and the other Contours simply go through the motions, sounding thoroughly bored. (I can totally picture them grimacing on-stage, forcing themselves to “have fun and go wild” with this song on the 18th straight night of a package tour). The shoehorned-in recitation of the names of six different dance crazes tacked on at the end is done without love or interest, as if this group wasn’t Motown’s most daring, electrifying live act, as if these guys really couldn’t dance. Check out the listless group shout of “Hully Gully!” at 2:38 – could they possibly sound any more fed up?
The result, while it’s not completely awful, is almost totally pointless. Thin, weak, bored-sounding “dance music” that – fatally – doesn’t ever make you want to get up and dance, this is both an artistic misfire and a commercial misjudgment.
MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
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