B-side of Live Wire
B-side of Live Wire
(Released in the UK under license through Stateside Records)
In stark contrast to the ballistic fireworks of the A-side Live Wire, this is a slowed-down cover of an old Mary Wells B-side, an old Holland-Dozier-Gorman number (the liner notes to The Complete Motown Singles series again credit Holland-Dozier-Holland, but this is still apparently an error) which the Vandellas had cut back in 1963 for their Come And Get These Memories LP. This turns out to be a thoughtful and well-judged re-imagining of what had been a slightly shapeless, somewhat turgid little song.
The catalyst for the improvement in this new version turns out to be Miss Martha Reeves; she owns the song now, such that Mary Wells’ original version now just sounds “wrong” after hearing Martha’s take. Reeves is the title character – an ex-girlfriend asking for another chance in order to redress a past wrong – and she’s on fine form, to the extent that even a slightly clumsy amd clunky spoken word bit can’t take away from the sincerity of her performance.
There’s a sense of improvement in the band too, the new quasi-calypso arrangement (differing from the original in swapping out horns for strings, and being taken at half-speed) having more than a touch of the early balladry of Paul McCartney’s efforts on the first Beatles albums. The Vandellas, too, are on lovely form, Roz and Annette besting the performances of the Love-Tones from the original; they add superbly to the delicate regret in Martha’s voice.
Still not a great song by any means, but this is just about the best version of it that exists, and that counts for something.
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!)
Motown Junkies has reviewed other Motown versions of this song:
- Mary Wells (July 1962)
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