B-side of Say You
Before we begin, I’d like to wish all Motown Junkies readers a Happy New Year. 1965 has been the first Motown year where it’s actually taken us longer than a year to cover twelve months’ worth of Motown singles, and I promise I’ll try and speed up a bit during 2014!
This is a rather pretty way to begin, anyway. It’s more like the early-Sixties Miracles than the mid-Sixties Monitors, Richard Street doing a fair approximation of Smokey Robinson both in his soft voice and his tongue-rolling phrasing. Almost determined to be modest, its horizons deliberately kept low, it’s still a sweet little bit of doo-wop loveliness, ladled out unexpectedly on the back of a superb calling-card single; a throwback to the days when Motown felt they needed to showcase their new artists’ versatility by using both sides of a 45 to the full.
It’s packed with memorable moments; despite the opening, which threatens a fanfare, this is a resolutely small-scale drama, full of instances of kitchen-sink yearning (both lyrically and musically) that make it almost impossible to dislike. The flourishes both of strings and backing vocals, the passages of genuine unexpected musical invention, hint at further moments of beauty just off-screen; even the moments that come over as a bit ropey at first blush, Street reaching for notes he can’t quite nail at this unfamiliar pace (or songwriting quirks like the staccato shout of Making up! at 1:45) have won me over more and more as I keep listening to it.
The best part, though, is the middle eight, a gorgeous pause for thought, male and female backing vocals surrounding Street like a curtain; it’s a moment which the Smokey of 1963 would have been proud to have written (take a bow, Staunton and Walker):
When you’re alone
All on your own
It’s a sad, sad situation
The dreams you shared
Vanish in air
Leaving you alone and blue…
Really rather lovely, and exactly the sort of thing I hoped to find when I started writing this blog. Here’s to many more of them.
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.
(Or maybe you’re only interested in The Monitors? Click for more.)
“I Can’t Believe You Love Me”
|Motown Junkies presents the finest Motown cuts, big hits and hard to find classics.
Listen to all past episodes here.