B-side of Good Bye Cruel Love
(Written by Smokey Robinson)
Linda Griner, who went on to have a long and successful recording career away from Motown as “Lyn Roman”, only ever released this pair of sides during her time at Hitsville – but plenty of other artists might be “envious” (ha ha!) of her short Motown stint, as she was taken under the wing of none other than Smokey Robinson, who supposedly wrote and produced an entire album’s worth of material for Linda.
Both sides of this single are a pleasant surprise. This showy ballad is an almost completely overlooked piece in Smokey’s oeuvre, but it’s a fine bit of work, pitched somewhere between Mary Wells’ enormous Strange Love, Little Anthony & the Imperials’ Tears On My Pillow, and just a touch of Patsy Cline’s then-recent hit version of Crazy, all blended together, run through the filter of Smokey Robinson the tunesmith, sanded to a fine gloss, and then treated to a finishing touch courtesy of Smokey Robinson the lyricist.
Throughout the song, Linda’s narrator chides a girl she knows for being – yes! – “envious”, because even though the narrator has a whole bunch of material stuff, she’s still miserable because she’s actually in love with this other girl’s boyfriend, and so the narrator’s actually envious of her. In a neat touch typical of its author, the song is actually sung to the boyfriend rather than the other girl.
This would have made a great single for Mary Wells, if the resounding commercial failure of the aforementioned Strange Love hadn’t put Motown off trying to cut any more big showy ballads on her. In her absence, Linda Griner again does well enough; even if her performance isn’t spectacular or individual, it’s good and strong, and filled with promise. For Motown, though, that promise would go unfulfilled.
There’s no reason this couldn’t have done well in 1963 as an A-side, but the single sank without trace and so radio never really got the chance to flip the record over and find it. A pity; between this and the topside, this is a fine single that really deserved better.
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.
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“Good Bye Cruel Love”
“I Want To Talk About You”