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Motown RecordsMotown M 1064 (B), August 1964

B-side of My Smile Is Just A Frown (Turned Upside Down)

(Written by Carolyn Crawford)


Scan kindly provided by '144man'.  All label scans come from visitor contributions - if you'd like to send me a scan I don't have, please e-mail it to me at fosse8@gmail.com!I’ve got to stop being surprised by this sort of thing.

Regular readers will hopefully by now know that this is my own personal evaluation of the Motown legacy, and that I understand it’ll likely differ in some key respects from their own, and that no two people’s versions of this exercise will end up the same. Nonetheless, there have been a few times when I’ve apparently ruffled feathers by lauding something widely-panned, and there have been rather more times when I’ve seen (or heard) nothing particularly special in a song and reviewed it accordingly, only to discover it’s someone’s cherished all-time favourite. And I walk into these things every time.

At least with this one I can pre-emptively defend myself, having had a tip-off; a comment on the entry for the A-side here, My Smile Is Just A Frown (Turned Upside Down), from a very well-respected contributor (who I hope won’t mind me shoving him into the spotlight!), opined that this B-side was a 10/10, and “couldn’t have been better”. I’m really glad of this, because it’s always good to be reminded of just how subjective this whole exercise really is – it’s not only a case of one man’s meat being another man’s poison, but a stark underlined reminder – for me more than you, dear reader – that these reviews are simply the highly subjective opinions of one Motown junkie, and your mileage, as always, may vary considerably. As I used to say in the early days, if any review of mine (good or bad), or any dissenting comment in the ensuing discussion, sends a reader to seek out a song for the first time they might otherwise have ignored, well, my work here is done.

Oh, right, I’ll Come Running. Well, it’s quite nice, but I find it both meandering and sloppy.

14-year-old Carolyn Crawford was a writer as well as a singer – she’d penned her Motown début single Forget About Me – and the label were clearly still comfortable with her bringing her own material to the table almost a year later. But this is a vibe and a riff in search of a song.

It’s atmospheric, no question; the jaunty stabs of piano/organ play nicely against the stuttering, hissy rhythm track and Carolyn’s soaring vocal (once again, you’d never guess she was fourteen on this evidence). Carolyn shows off her power and control right from the opening line in the song’s biggest hook, a loud, leaping, repeated extended third note – Give me-a-lil’ TIIIIIIIIIIME to think it over – that’s recalled throughout the song to pleasing effect.

But the big strong voice on those extended notes sounds in marked contrast to the out-of-breath bark she uses on other lines, forcing in as many words per bar as will possibly fit; the effect is much closer to the shrill, unintelligible bits of Forget About Me than the impossibly cool A-side.

There aren’t any more really good ideas in play afterwards. The song loses both direction and steam after barely thirty seconds; that jauntily pounded piano keeps on going like a tape loop and Carolyn keeps kicking up to make the big notes, but nothing much else happens structure-wise (there’s a rudimentary middle eight that’s essentially another verse with a key change, but that’s about it).

The result, for me anyway, was that it got quite boring before it was finished – a pity, because Carolyn is trying so very hard, and I feel guilty for ragging on a defenceless teenage talent, but I can’t get away from the feeling that this is the work of an immature songwriter. I’ll Come Running has run out of ideas after half a minute, but keeps on ploughing the same determined furrow for another two regardless.

I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT

3/10

(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.

(Or maybe you’re only interested in Carolyn Crawford? Click for more.)

Carolyn Crawford
“My Smile Is Just A Frown (Turned Upside Down)”
Kim Weston
“Looking For The Right Guy”

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