(Written by George Kerr and Sidney Barnes)
Asinine pop pap, produced by Berry Gordy’s then-wife Raynoma Liles Gordy, “Miss Ray” herself. Fittingly for VIP Records, already becoming a low-profile label in the Motown system, a depository for shunting weird outlying stock, a home for family favours, business deals, material cut by people hundreds or even thousands of miles away from Detroit… the new Miracle Records, and only two releases old.
The Serenaders’ handful of cuts were the first fruits of Motown’s East Coast office in New York City’s Brill Building, mirroring the West Coast efforts taking place in Los Angeles as Motown became a true nationwide concern. Miss Ray, who presided over operations in New York, auditioned this grizzled veteran group of Fifties NYC doo-woppers and produced their one and only Motown release. The liner notes to The Complete Motown Singles: Volume 4 note the group split up after this single, and further note the supposed popularity of some of the unreleased demos they also cut for Motown, none of which I’ve ever knowingly listened to. Band members George Kerr and Sidney Barnes, who between them wrote this record, became more valuable to Motown as songwriters than performers.
Oh yes, the record itself. It’s not completely awful, but it is very cheesy in its attempts to marry old-school doo-wop, new-school R&B (of the type championed by Frankie Valli, that is) and white pop-rock. It’s also offensively simplistic; “Let the lit-tle girl go!” is the message – if you’re not 100% sure, male listener, if you have any doubts whatsoever that you can’t do better, then drop her! “Her” being a cipher who doesn’t get a say in the matter. Or a personality.
As if unsure of the material, both the band and the singers pile on with undue effort and energy, and the poor production leaves this an uncoordinated, noisy mess, an attempt at a Brill Building pop record gone badly awry as bucketfuls of bad ideas are sloshed on top with no care for whether they work or not.
A shoddy, dated record, and poorly-sung and recorded to boot; not exactly the bottom of the barrel, but you can certainly see it from here.
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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