(Written by Howard Hausey)
A bracing down-home style honky-tonk workout, probably the most full-on country thing Motown had yet seen fit to release. Pedal steel, banjo, twanging guitars, metronomic double bass, chugging brushed drums, a thick-voiced Southerner drawling over the top with his crew of good ol’ boys; it’s really only missing a fiddle part for the full house.
Once again, though, and just as with the A-side (also written by Mel-o-dy Records stalwart Howard “Crockett” Hausey), the lyrics are an eye-opening let-down, as Dee Mullins presents the wettest, most browbeaten, utterly whipped narrator in the Motown canon to date, limply wresting the crown from Bobby Breen’s How Can We Tell Him; this guy makes Breen’s drippy leading man sound like Marlon Brando.
This is the story of a jilted man trying to persuade his philandering ex to give him another chance. It’s straight out of the Milhouse Van Houten school of relationship advice (“once she sees I’ll do absolutely anything for her, she’s bound to respect me”):
Oh, come on back and be my love again
Even if you have to just pretend
I’ll even let you see him now and then
Just come on back and be my love again…
He’s a winner alright. Form an orderly queue, girls.
It’s psychologically fascinating, but I’m not sure it’s meant to be. Indeed, it’s a mark of how badly written this is, or maybe how badly Mullins sells it, that after several listens I’m still none the wiser as to whether it’s meant to be a funny story about a whiny cuckold, or whether it’s a desperate plea in sober earnest. Are we laughing at him, or cheering him on?
Actually, most likely, we’re switching off. Unlike “Love Makes The World Go ‘Round, But Money Greases The Wheel”, there’s no snappy tune to salvage this, no promising hook; it’s a definite groove, but a straight-ahead, eyes down, power on through kind of groove, with no changes or derivations (even the guitar solo slots neatly into the track and then disappears from view without so much as a drumbeat out of place), and although it stops dead just after two minutes, you get the feeling these guys could carry on ploughing along with it all night given half a chance. Even Mullins, who’d been charismatic enough on the A-side, sounds restless, delivering each line with half an eye on making it to the next one without having to stop for breath.
Not terribly impressive, I’m afraid; once the shock appeal of finding a Motown honky tonk single has worn off, we’re left with a record that’s somehow managed to end up being both strange and boring.
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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“Love Makes The World Go ‘Round, But Money Greases The Wheel”
“I’m Still Loving You”
|Motown Junkies presents the finest Motown cuts, big hits and hard to find classics.
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