B-side of What Good Am I Without You
B-side of What Good Am I Without You
(Released in the UK under license through EMI / Stateside Records)
First things first, and before we get into talking about this record, a round of applause for regular contributor Damecia on her recent graduation. Congratulations from everyone at Motown Junkies!
And now that I’m done embarrassing people, back to the records. It’s nice we had some good news to start with, because the song isn’t up to much. This is a totally different experience to the sassy A-side, What Good Am I Without You; both songs were written with Mary Wells, not Kim Weston, in mind, but the difference is that this one sounds like it.
But I Want You Round is unique among all these duets, in that it wasn’t actually written for Marvin Gaye either – it made its first appearance back in 1963 as a speculative, let’s-see-what-happens internal demo, sung by Mary and her favoured writer-producer, Smokey Robinson. It wasn’t a success on any level – the song’s a plodding dirge, and Robinson and Wells just don’t have complementary voices – and so it went back on the shelf until Mary found herself a more compatible duet partner.
Ironically, by the time it was dusted off, with a new band track recorded, Miss Wells was already long gone from Motown, and never got to sing it with Marvin. Unlike the A-side, Kim Weston’s late substitute appearance isn’t exactly a seamless replacement; her part sounds oddly tacked-on, so much so that if you’d (wrongly) been told this was recorded by Mary and then Motown had Kim overdub her parts, you’d have no problem believing it.
Unlike the A-side (this is becoming a theme, isn’t it?), our two leads don’t alternate lines, instead opting for a two-handed dual-tracked approach. They’re unrecognisable as themselves – the murky blend of vocals gives the impression of a mediocre new singing group – though it’s not without its charm, Marvin occasionally endearingly catching a note in his throat, Kim occasionally bouncing unexpectedly up the scale to hit the word ROUND! at the end of the refrain that serves as a chorus.
It’s just so very boring. Pretty in places, but boring. I Want You Round ends up being flat and bland and sticky everywhere What Good Am I Without You was bouncy and bluesy and ballsy, and as such it’s poorly suited to our new would-be star pairing. One of Motown’s biggest personalities and one of Motown’s biggest voices, and they’re utterly wasted on this thin little sketch, a failed proof of concept intended for two entirely different people; nobody sounds like they’re having a good time here, nobody’s being allowed to do what they do best. It’s like giving Cézanne a paint by numbers and some chunky crayons.
We tend to think of Marvin and Kim as having been a successful pairing, because of the fine LP they eventually cut together and the ever-enduring Top 20 hit that album spawned. In fact, they only released two singles together; this one scraped into the Cash Box R&B Top 30 (having hit an underwhelming #61 Pop), and the next one wouldn’t come along for nearly two and a half years. On the strength of the A-side, that’s a terrible pity, a crying shame, a great loss to popular music; on the strength of this B-side, meh, not so much.
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.
|Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston
“What Good Am I Without You”
“Who You Gonna Run To”
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