b/w She’s My Baby
By 1964, Motown was racking up more and more hits, which meant more and more records filling up the release schedules, which meant more and more hits, and so on. That bumper, ever-increasing crop of releases (this is track 24 on The Complete Motown Singles: Volume 4 and we’re still only up to mid-February) included all manner of curios in amongst the classics, with no small amount of opportunistic bandwagon-jumping – of which this is the most egregious example. (Haven’t we grown out of this sort of demeaning cash-in schtick by now? Well, apparently no, we haven’t.)
Give Me A Kiss is a jokey response to the recent hit success of the Beatles. The Hornets were fronted by Motown studio hand Mike Valvano, formerly of Mike and the Modifiers – those paying attention at the back will remark on this as a wise choice, as Valvano’s only previous Motown release as an artist, I Found Myself A Brand New Baby back in the summer of ’62, had also flirted with the Merseybeat sound.
I say it’s a “response” to the Beatles; it’s actually a note-for-note cover of I Want To Hold Your Hand (with the chorus changed ever so slightly in the foolhardy hope of avoiding another Tomorrow and Always-style copyright infringement scandal – Motown was a lot bigger now, meaning there was a lot more to lose). It’s somewhere between a spoof and a rip-off, an embarrassing ode to kissing which spends its entire duration describing the location of the lips –
Below your eyebrows
And right between your ears
There lies the answer
Where all the red appears
Let’s come to grips
I want your lips…
– sung terribly by Valvano, which is already bad enough, but the record then goes plunging off a cliff face into a whole new canyon of badness.
To wit: The song’s called Give Me A Kiss, right? Except that the Hornets never actually sing the word “kiss” – instead, they leave that word blank (“Come on, give me a…” (PAUSE)), and then fill those spaces with them making kissing noises. Yes, I’m serious.
This is just a stupid, stupid record, daffy in the extreme (“Let’s make this scene for Listerine!… My lips are waiting for smoochy souvenirs!”, not to mention rhyming “They do it in Egypt” with “Don’t want to see me jipped”). It’s much less funny than I’m probably making it sound; a complete insult not only to the Beatles themselves (who probably never even found out about this travesty) but to their fans, of whom Motown clearly thought very little if they envisaged shifting lots of copies of Give Me A Kiss to newly-minted Beatle freaks across America. They won’t notice, they’re just screaming girls, right? They’ll buy any old shit. Which is both condescending and flat out wrong, the complete antithesis of Motown’s usual approach to applying the very highest standards to what other, lesser labels considered to be cheap, disposable pop music.
So bad it’s almost physically painful; scarcely funny even on the level of parody, and perhaps fittingly even the laughs to be had at its expense are cheap and short-lived.
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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“She’s My Baby”
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