Workshop Jazz RecordsUNRELEASED; scheduled for Workshop Jazz 2003 (B), January 1963

B-side of I Want To Talk About You

(Written by Cole Porter)

Another cover of a Forties standard, but rather more upbeat and energetic than the languid A-side, I Want To Talk About You, So In Love provides more of a workout for Paula Greer’s voice, an opportunity to show off her top-end jazz credentials. She doesn’t take her chance.

The band track starts out with vicious, pounded drums, before briefly changing tempo to a more standard swing rhythm for the first chorus just after the one minute mark; it’s a mix of free jazz and more strictly-controlled bebop and swing, and a bit difficult to really get into (the sections are just too short to get a hold on, and it’s never entirely clear what the band are going for).

Paula seems happier with the big band swing bits than the bongo-fury bits (though she gamely gives it a go anyway, howling melismatically over the opening); however, there’s a lengthy acapella section at 1:47 that goes on for over half a minute, where she gets to reprise the chorus all on her own, and it’s the sort of jazz vocal I just can’t get along with.

She’s undeniably got plenty of ability, but the acapella section is a perfect microcosm of what’s wrong with the record. Greer leaves behind any notion of tune or timing and just gives free rein to her voice to provide (I’m guessing) a supposedly unbound expression. Fine, except that – to me – there’s no valid connection between her free excursions around the scale and the emotional punch of the lyrics, which are all about joyous memories and self-debasing subservience, not primal pain (of which more later), so – to me – it’s just a pointless exercise in making a noise. I’m aware that complaining about a jazz vocalist’s caterwauling style being irritating probably marks me down as a “square”, but I’m no jazz aficionado and I just find it annoying.

It’s a pity, because the lyrics – a story of a woman “So In Love” with somebody that she freely admits she’ll put up with any treatment, featuring more than a hint of disturbing masochism (So tease me, and hurt me / Deceive me, desert me / I’m yours ’til I die, so in love with you am I) – give a vocalist plenty to draw upon, but both Greer and the band treat the lyrics as just staging posts for showing off their voice and instruments. A shame.



(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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Paula Greer
“I Want To Talk About You”
Mary Wells
“Laughing Boy”