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Workshop Jazz RecordsWorkshop Jazz 2005 (B), February 1963

B-side of I’mi See You Later

(Written by Johnny Griffith)


Johnny's Workshop Jazz LP, 'Jazz', released in September 1962.I don’t enjoy dishing out beat-downs to records made by Motown legends – a title for which keys man Johnny Griffith, for so long one of the pivotal members of the Motown house band, the Funk Brothers, certainly qualifies – but it can’t be avoided when the fare on offer is shapeless, uninspiring slop like this.

Apparently conceived by its writer and performer as a new jazz standard (there’s another Workshop Jazz cover of this coming up in just a few reviews’ time), this piano instrumental is divided into three distinct sections. We start out with the most inoffensive Fifties supper-club background music, slow and gentle so as not to put the more elderly patrons off their meals; in marked contradiction to the A-side, where he’d bashed seven bells out of his piano, Griffith is remarkably restrained here, only crashing out of control once or twice (I’d chalk it up to boredom, except that the great man wrote this, so that shouldn’t apply).

At around 1:25, the bass and brushed drums kick up a faster, bebop-influenced rhythm, and we get about a minute and a half of Johnny getting progressively more and more out of step with the quietly efficient, metronomic backing (which never misses a beat), hammering the keys more and more intensely, though the effect is never really “raucous” so much as “annoying”. Actually, it comes across as a far less talented pianist struggling to play a piece, rather than a bold experiment in extemporising and free expression.

Finally, just after the three minute mark, the tempo slows to less than half, and the rest of the record is Johnny just playing whatever almost random notes, glisses and crashing chords and dischords he likes, staying just about in sight of the tune, but not giving it much attention.

No fun at all, this feels like it’s never going to end, and it’s got about as much to do with the Motown Sound (the sound that Johnny Griffith himself helped shape) as… well, as any of the glut of other disappointingly tedious Workshop Jazz sides released en masse by Motown at the end of February 1963, apparently solely in an attempt to get on my nerves. Chin up, readers, we’re almost halfway through these now.

MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT

1/10

(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!)


COVERWATCH

Motown Junkies has reviewed other Motown versions of this song:


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 Johnny Griffith Trio? Click for more.)

Johnny Griffith Trio
“I’mi See You Later”
George Bohanon Quartet
“Bobbie”