(Written by Mickey Stevenson and Barney Ales)
The first chart hit for big-voiced Motown newcomer Kim Weston came courtesy of this fun if thinly-spread bit of bluesy doo-wop inflected R&B, originally slated as the B-side of her début single It Should Have Been Me (and often incorrectly listed as the top side as a result).
Nowhere near as interesting as the A-side, lyrically or musically, this is nonetheless much better suited to Kim’s raw, powerful vocal delivery, and ended up cracking the R&B Top 30 (and hitting #88 pop, a very respectable first-time-out placing for an unknown newcomer).
It really does suit her, though. Her voice is throaty, sassy… just big, really, something which almost overwhelmed the more intricate A-side; here, by contrast, she’s in her element. There’s almost nothing to this song in terms of music or lyrics – a very generic doo-wop/blues jam with minimal instrumentation, and pretty much no chorus to speak of, the most notable feature is a gospel-style backing choir which serves as a subtle reminder to the listener that Kim had originally come from the church. The lyrics are also basic, barely registering in the memory when the A-side had painted such vivid pictures; Kim demands that her man commit to the relationship 100%, no half measures please. What saves it, what pushed it up the charts, is a good match between song and vocalist.
Because Kim was always at her best when the material allowed her to cut loose, as with this record; there was no denying she could really sing. (My favourite Youtube comment for this song simply reads “Dayumn! Girl could sing! Yes indeed, she had PIPES”, which pretty much covers it, I think.) Give her something good to sing about – in this instance, she brings a real palpable sense of “don’t you DARE mess me around, sunshine” which fits the lyrics to a T – wind her up and listen to her go. Her lead vocal here is never less than riveting, culminating in her delivery of the song’s central hook, a weird “Oooh-weeee” that starts each verse, which could have been risible in another’s hands but which works really well here.
It’s good fun, and you can see why radio ate it up, but it doesn’t change the fact that the material itself is wafer-thin, and (for me, at any rate) doesn’t really bear repeated listens, its apparent much-beloved status over the years notwithstanding. Still, it’s an exceptionally well-chosen match of singer and song, even if the world would have to wait a bit longer to see what happened when Kim Weston was given some stronger material that played to her particular strengths.
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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“It Should Have Been Me”
“Locking Up My Heart”