More Bobby Darin than Bobby Breen, this is a full-on show tune, a mock standard with Broadway practically tattooed all over its heavily pancaked face. And there in the spotlight is Bobby the former child star, in top hat and tails, backed up by a Busby Berkeley chorus line, clearly having the time of his life.
Oh, he’s no star turn any more, our Bobby; nearing forty, and appearing on his second and last Motown 45, his voice is reedy and nasal, adding a slightly queasy quality to his ad-libbed asides (ooh! yeah! sugar! mmm! darlin’! ahh!) that does the song no favours at all. But gosh darn it, he’s just having so much fun out there, living out scenes from some alternate 1956 where he was wowing the crowds every night in Las Vegas; it can’t help but carry you along, at least some of the way.
This is an absolutely note-perfect pastiche of a standard, as accurate as anything Motown would ever achieve – for good and ill. Published by Motown’s pseudo-standards arm, Stein and Van Stock, its writers (Motown boss Berry Gordy and his brother Bob Kayli) adopting the pseudonyms “Martin and Kay”, everything about You’re Just Like You is an appeal to white MOR audiences, the sort of audiences who might have lapped this stuff up ten years previously.
This could absolutely have come from some long-forgotten stage show hovering just outside the range of public consciousness – the show that was playing down the road the night The King and I opened in New York, or something. Except for Bobby, that is, whose voice simply isn’t strong enough for him to have won the part in this theoretical show – so instead, it sounds like a dapper crooner’s cover of a well-known standard, which is of course exactly what its writers were going for.
It’s a good song, too; the big, string-laden chorus, all finger-snaps, horns and high kicks, is engaging, Bobby’s voice swooping woozily around the scale before delivering an almost spoken hook-line, complete with half-laugh.
It’s a strong tune, eminently whistleable, the sort of thing to be sung in a hundred thousand showers nationwide as Bobby delivers his paean of everlasting love.
Absolutely nothing to do with Motown at all, but one still has to applaud the sheer effort that went into getting all of the details of this pastiche so spot-on. Quite what audiences in 1964 made of this – epecially when they could just as easily buy LPs of the real thing – is another matter, but you’ve got to admire the craftsmanship.
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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“Cold As Usual”
“Here Comes That Heartache”
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