(Written by Mark Barkan and Ben Raleigh)
The absolute weakest vocal of Bobby Breen’s Motown career – piping, thin, wavering, nasal, in places so bad as to be just plain laughable. Bobby enunciates every syllable in a weird, tremulous voice, landing somewhere between Roy Orbison and Boris Pickett & the Crypt Kickers, except not as good as that sounds. A real 2 out of 10 job looming here.
But just as with Bobby’s previous B-side Better Late Than Never, this one has another absolutely killer hook – in this case, a soaring chorus anchored by a wordless, skyscraping vocal refrain, a seven-syllable run of Oh-oh-oh-ohs backed by an angelic chorus of backing vocals. It’s a riff of such epic brilliance, it deserves to have been lifted for use on a much better record than this one.
There’s a good lyric, too; anguished lost-love stuff, a potential sequel to Better Late Than Never, Bobby’s narrator unable to move on from a disastrously ended relationship because he keeps running into reminders of his ex every time he’s about to make some progress:
Going to a party
With all my friends
And I’m having fun
Then someone just happens
To speak your name
My laughing’s over and done…
Here comes that heartache!
It’s affecting and well-judged, if absolutely terribly sung. As with Better Late Than Never, it’s a character study about a crushed, somewhat obsessed man; the difference here is that we’re told he’s trying to move on, rather than clinging to the hope of getting back together. (Although there is a really raw bit near the end when he just “happens” to walk down her street – hmmm, really? – and wonders whether she’s feeling as lonely as he is, only to see her come out of her front door arm-in-arm with her new boyfriend. Ouch.)
Ultimately, though, it’s that hook that makes the song. The liner notes to The Complete Motown Singles: Volume 4 compare it to Steve Alaimo’s Every Day I Have To Cry Some, and I can see what they mean, but it’s not really comparable beyond a vague similarity in the tune; Steve uses it as the bread-and-butter of the verses, while Bobby’s record, which has that tune sung by an operatic chorus (and sometimes has Bobby himself joining in call-and-response style with a two bar delay) makes it the centrepiece of something that’s reaching much higher.
Certainly Motown must have been taken with it; the single’s picture sleeve (above), previously a rare honour but now a sign of Motown’s new-found largesse in the wake of My Guy flying off shelves all over the world, features a different side of the record on each side of the sleeve, Here Comes That Heartache given equal weight with You’re Just Like You.
Unfortunately for Bobby, neither side captured the public’s imagination, and his Motown career was through. After a few more brushes with the showbiz world in the mid-Sixties, including being featured on the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (he’s visible over George Harrison’s shoulder, right next to Marlene Dietrich, if anyone’s looking for him), Bobby moved to Florida and settled down into a new career in talent management, where he seems to have done very well for himself. Bravo.
A decent (if schlocky) song, a really bad performance, a record ending up somewhere in the middle. Not especially good, but absolutely worth hearing.
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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“You’re Just Like You”
“Try It Baby”
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