B-side of Stevie
The B-side to Patrice Holloway’s one and only Motown single. Very much of a pair with the A-side, the patchy Stevie, this turns out to be another tribute song to Little Stevie Wonder, one which again starts out promisingly before ending up as a screechy, unintelligible musical soup.
As a love song to Stevie Wonder (and it definitely is, just as explicitly so as Stevie, incidentally, opening with a backing vocal cheerleader chant of “S! T! E! V-I-E! STEVIE!” before starting up with a naff “spelling” gimmick – “S is for Stevie, the boy of my dreams / T is for the time that comes between…”) it’s considerably more positive than the A-side had been; rather than cursing his name and howling in anguish, Patrice instead counts her blessings that she’s in love with such a super guy. It’s a song pitched for a much younger vocalist than Stevie, which initially works in its favour; where that song had called for 12-year-old Patrice to play the role of a woman maybe twice or three times her age, (He Is) The Boy Of My Dreams is decidedly more kiddie-friendly fare, and it suits her better, at least to begin with.
Sadly, this record shares and multiplies the major flaw of the topside; Patrice starts out well-controlled and charming, but quickly loses that control and ends up shrill and tone-deaf, wailing monotonously as soon as she gets out of the lower reaches of her register. It’s not a bad little song, but it’s so badly performed that it’s actually painful to listen to in places, and that all comes down to the vocalist. Sorry, Patrice.
We know for a fact she got better – she racked up a bunch of excellent sides for Capitol in the mid-Sixties (here’s Love And Desire, which gives its title to Patrice’s upcoming long-awaited anthology CD) as well as providing the voice of Valerie on the Josie and the Pussycats TV show (and singing several leads on the spin-off LP) – but none of that would matter to Motown. The label declined to release anything else on her after this, due to some supposed legal wrangles which kept the rest of her cuts in the vault until the Cellarful of Motown series appeared 40-odd years later. Sadly for Patrice, she’s best remembered by Motown fans as a footnote in the career of her big sister Brenda, a fate she didn’t really deserve but from which this single does nothing to spare her.
So that was 1963 – a super run of singles to close out the year, this little mis-step aside, a new Golden Age by anyone’s standards, and yet things were about to get even better. By the end of 1964, Motown would have gone from a respectable power to a cultural juggernaut, but this had been the most important year so far. Some of Motown’s acts were starting to scale the heights of pop stardom, a couple of them were already up there waving, and we’re getting very near the point where you could pretty much grab any Motown single unheard and be assured of its quality before you’d ever listened to it. A pity for Patrice Holloway that she wasn’t given more time to join in the fun and produce some Motown classics of her own; there aren’t very many more outright duffers left between now and the end of the Sixties, that’s for sure.
MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
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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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