B-side of Back To School Again
(Written by Earl McDaniel and Mickey Stevenson)
After the horrors of the A-side, Back To School Again, an incompetent novelty pop song that ranks comfortably among the worst Motown releases of 1963, I wasn’t looking forward to this at all – it’s called Pig Knuckles, for Christ’s sake – but this is actually a massive, massive improvement over the topside.
An organ-heavy instrumental 12-bar blues jam featuring plenty of horns and big freeform solos for trumpet and guitar, this is positively groovy. Very much in line with what Booker T. and the MG’s were doing over at Stax/Volt at around this time, the organ and guitar in particular are a real pleasure, all the better for being so unexpected.
It perhaps feels too short – it’s actually almost three minutes long, though it doesn’t feel like it – and it’s really just a glorified jam session, but it’s highly entertaining by those standards. Even the out-of-tune trumpet, so horribly, jarringly off-key on the A-side when trying to fit into that song’s naff uptempo rhythm, is used extremely judiciously here, its bum notes giving the effect of a coruscating jazz solo.
All in all, a very pleasant surprise. I won’t say this is as good as the A-side is poor, because for that to be true this would have to be one of the greatest records in Motown history, but I will say it’s both highly listenable and a huge improvement.
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!)
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