B-side of Tonight’s The Night
The Headliners are certainly a difficult bunch to pin down, at any rate. While the A-side Tonight’s The Night sounded like a bumbled synthesis of Earl Van Dyke and Marvin Gaye, this B-side (incorrectly listed as the top side in many discographies) sounds more like a bumbled synthesis of Louie Louie, Twist And Shout and Eddie Floyd.
As with Tonight’s The Night, it’s let down by ropey vocals and a lack of oomph. An interesting experiment, combining an attempt at the British Invasion sound with a garage approach and banks of Muscle Shoals style horns, it’s nothing special as a song but it could have worked as a concept piece. Instead, it breaks down in several places, the lead vocal is flat and boring, the harmonies are weak, and the whole thing again just makes you want to skip to the end.
It’s good to see Motown trying out new ideas, and in more capable hands this might have made for a neat little B-side. Here, it starts out well enough, a drum roll, twanging bass and tambourine signalling the beginning of something good (before the demo-esque lead vocal strikes up!), but by the time we’re halfway through, the vocal and instrumental mistakes have started to mount up, the production is weak (individual parts are muffled and muddy, and the sound levels keep dropping and spiking), and the whole thing is just wearying, to the point I almost stopped this before it had finished because I’d got sick of it.
(Knowing as I now do that the Headliners were a self-contained band with their own guitarist, bass player, pianist etc., I’d originally written “no mistaking the musicians on this side for the legendary Motown house band, that’s for sure!”, except – as alert reader 144man points out below – this was originally intended for the Miracles, and the backing track was cut long before any of the Headliners got anywhere near it. So if these are the Funk Brothers, perhaps they were just having a spectacularly off day. Certainly it says a lot that this track went from being earmarked for one of Motown’s top groups, to being used as a B-side for a little-known newly-signed group of raggedy-sounding white boys. Penny for Smokey’s thoughts when he was first presented with it. But anyway.)
None of the individual elements of this (the song, the vocals, the band) is completely awful, just mediocre, but somehow when they’re all put together they amount to less than the sum of their parts. I’m not often physically worn out by trying to listen to a record turned up loud, but this one managed it, and I don’t particularly want to hear it again. Sorry, lads.
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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“Tonight’s The Night”
“Too Many Fish In The Sea”
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