B-side of A Love She Can Count On
Like I said, posterity is a funny old game.
The Miracles’ previous single, Happy Landing, had tanked. A rocker very much inspired by Sam Cooke’s Having A Party (which, in turn, owed more than a small debt to the Miracles’ own previous Broken Hearted), Happy Landing had found little favour, but its B-side, You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me – a doo-wop-inflected R&B ballad also inspired by Sam Cooke, this time Bring It On Home To Me – had shot to the top of the R&B charts and sold over a million copies, as DJs flipped the record over. In Britain, You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me was the official A-side.
Fast forward a few months, and Motown issued a soundalike follow-up single, A Love She Can Count On, essentially a refinement of the musical concepts of both Bring It On Home To Me and You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me.
Brilliant though it was, the record didn’t grab audiences the way its predecessor had, scoring a respectable but hardly explosive #21 R&B and #31 pop. Perhaps someone at Motown hoped that, if the fans didn’t go for A Love She Can Count On, then history might repeat itself in negative: that DJs might flip over the Sam Cooke-tinged ballad to get to a more energetic workout on the B-side. Accordingly, the group’s new Tamla LP The Fabulous Miracles was raided for a suitable candidate, and I Can Take A Hint was extracted for use on the flip here.
The ploy didn’t work; DJs didn’t warm to the track, and there would be no double-sided hit this time. (Indeed, in Britain – where You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me had done nothing, despite as much promotional fanfare as Motown’s UK licensee Oriole Records could muster; perhaps the Beatles were the only people to have actually bought a copy – neither side of this single was picked up for release.)
Still, it’s all nice enough, pleasant if unremarkable, a solid “end of Side One” album track, a good B-side but never a single in its own right. Opening with an energetic drum crash and some staccato “Oh! Oh-ba-oh!” backing vocal stabs from the other Miracles, this initially sounds like it’s going to be quicker, tougher and just more vital than it eventually turns out to be; but it loses steam before we get too far in, becoming more of a midtempo number than the rocker we were initially promised.
Interestingly, this song is the biggest collaborative effort on The Fabulous Miracles, with four writers including group member Bobby Rogers and seasoned Motown songwriting hand Janie Bradford, and it was one of the first tracks to be laid down for the new LP. Perhaps as a result of Too Many Cooks syndrome, or Not Warmed Up Yet syndrome, or some other problem, it’s surprisingly anonymous and not really all that memorable. It’s bereft of a catchy tune, or any real hooks in the chorus; it’s all okay, not at all objectionable but never thrilling either. It’s okay.
Strange to think, then, that if Happy Landing had been a big hit, this might have been tabbed as the follow-up single, and A Love She Can Count On might never even have existed. A funny old game, indeed.
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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“A Love She Can Count On”
“I Want A Love I Can See”
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