B-side of My Baby Gave Me Another Chance
B-side of My Daily Prayer
(Re-used as B-side for cancelled single)
All these bad reviews (you look at the Master Index, and see that for the last couple of weeks I haven’t given out any marks above five out of ten, meaning that – based on my humble opinions – Motown has been below .500 for fourteen reviews), might give the impression that the company was in a kind of slump in the spring of 1963. In fact, this is a bit misleading; the time period in which all of these sub-par records and jazz or comedy asides were released actually only covers a little over a fortnight, a gap in the release schedules that Motown filled with a bunch of stuff they apparently had just lying around in their cupboards.
The début Motown single from Forties and Fifties piano star Amos Milburn certainly falls into that category. Both sides of the record were recorded in 1962, drawn from his upcoming LP Return of the Blues Boss. Half of the album consists of covers and well-meaning pastiches of his early-Fifties hits, the other half is made up of attempts to update Amos’ sound for the Sixties by giving him a series of downtempo romantic ballads. The A-side, My Baby Gave Me Another Chance, was one of the former; this is one of the latter.
Originally penned by rockabilly hero Johnny Powers, who was touting for work as a Motown songwriter (as well as an artist – the liner notes to The Complete Motown Singles: Volume 3 mention that Powers harboured hopes of recording this himself, which ultimately never came about), and polished up by two more experienced Hitsville writers (Milburn’s “regular” assigned writer/producer at Motown, Clarence Paul, and an early contribution from the great Lamont Dozier, who apparently also played drums on the track!), this is an interesting experiment in transforming Amos Milburn from blues man to balladeer heart-throb.
Whether it’s successful is open to debate. Amos’ voice is resoundingly ill-suited to this kind of material, trying to swap his former barrelling boogie-woogie style and instead delivering his lines in a lazy drawl (with more than a hint of Louis Armstrong) that sounds like the tape got slowed down in places.
Still, his delivery remains deep, rich and intriguing, perhaps more so than if he’d been better suited to the song. The tune itself is pretty enough, with the band doing some good work (Robert White on guitar gives a fine series of high, jangling riffs, as he had for the A-side, and Dozier’s drums are surprisingly well-judged), while the Andantes’ backing vocals are beguiling, and actually draw attention away from Milburn himself.
The lyrics continue the theme of forgiveness and reconciliation from the A-side, but this time it’s a plea for Amos’ ex to take him back, rather than a poem of grateful thanks for her having done so. DJs seem to have found the contrite approach and more contemporary style of the B-side preferable to the topside, to the point that this was apparently the side they chose to play.
Motown must have been wise to this. The song is the opening track on the Return of the Blues Boss album, and the LP sleeve (left) bears the legend “Included in this album, the hit single I’LL MAKE IT UP TO YOU SOMEHOW“, in enormous yellow letters taking up almost a quarter of the front cover, while the nominal A-side My Baby Gave Me Another Chance doesn’t even warrant a mention among the other tracks named at the bottom of the sleeve. On the back cover, there are some lengthy sleevenotes eulogising Milburn and his talents –
– some of which is worth quoting, actually: “A past master of his own unique style of ‘singin’ the blues’, Amos Milburn tells a bitter tale of blue reminiscence. His is a cry in the night – the shadow songs of lonely love that echo in the fragments of broken hearts everywhere. No other artist has ever been able to capture in word and in song the truth of love’s distress, as has Amos Milburn. This album is his first for Motown in their effort to obtain the finest artists for the record buying public.” –
– and accordingly, I’ll Make It Up To You Somehow receives special mention, the notes claiming it “deserves particular mention for its interpretation, the fact that it’s been released as a single, and the brilliant backing provided by the Andantes” (that credit for the most unsung of Motown’s heroines is especially surprising!), but My Baby Gave Me Another Chance goes without mention, just another track in the middle of Side 2.
Regardless of what Motown would have liked to happen, this record did not, in fact, hit the charts. Amos would have no further singles released during his time at Motown, but this song was slated as a B-side for a cancelled follow-up release, Berry Gordy clearly convinced it had more commercial potential than was ultimately the case. Still, it’s a highly interesting diversion, and a bold attempt at trying something new; the result is a pretty, if not earth-shattering record, and should be applauded for its pluck if not its greatness.
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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“My Baby Gave Me Another Chance”
“Don’t Let Her Be Your Baby”