(“The neglected one”)
Formed at the tail-end of 1963, initially to promote West Coast artists and California-recorded material (shades of MoWest almost a decade later), VIP Records shared a broad musical philosophy with the “Big Three” Motown labels (Tamla, Motown and Gordy), but ended up as the neglected stepchild of the Motown family, a remainder bin for records Motown didn’t know what to do with.
As a result, the VIP roster ended up full of lesser-known acts, many of them white pop and rock signings, and the VIP discography is accordingly stacked with under-promoted non-hits that Motown wasn’t likely to dedicate much sales and marketing effort to breaking. It was said that if your record came out on VIP, it was a clear indicator of how much of a priority your career was (or, more accurately, wasn’t) with the Motown top brass. Rarely has a label name seemed more ironic; in Motown’s eyes, VIP artists were anything but VIPs.
Which isn’t to say that the VIP catalogue is necessarily inferior to its better-funded, better-promoted, more-famous label brethren. The likes of the Velvelettes, Chris Clark, the Elgins, R. Dean Taylor, the Spinners, Chuck Jackson and the Monitors all cut some excellent sides for VIP, and the label served a useful purpose for releasing some splendid underappreciated gems which couldn’t get over the Tamla/Motown/Gordy quality control (i.e. “predicted hit/sales potential”) threshold. Perhaps as a result of this necessary “pressure valve” role, VIP lasted well into the early Seventies as other Motown subsidiary labels fell by the wayside.
For the first couple of years, VIP singles came out with an incredibly naff-looking cheap yellow label which just screamed “budget”, before a considerably smarter and much more professional-looking orange/white/brown design took over in the mid-Sixties.
The first VIP single release was Patrice Holloway’s Stevie in December 1963. Fittingly, only a few copies were pressed before the single’s release was cancelled. VIP went on to put out nearly sixty singles before the label’s final release, the perhaps appropriately-titled Feel Like Givin’ Up by Posse, in February 1972.
Here’s a list of the VIP Records singles that have been covered on Motown Junkies so far.
VIP RECORDS: SINGLES DISCOGRAPHY (1963-65)
- PATRICE HOLLOWAY: Stevie (3) / (He Is) The Boy Of My Dreams (2) (VIP 25001, December 1963)
- THE SERENADERS: If Your Heart Says Yes (2) / I’ll Cry Tomorrow (4) (VIP 25002, January 1964)
- JOANNE & THE TRIANGLES: After The Showers Come Flowers (4) / Don’t Be A Cry Baby (4) (VIP 25003, February 1964)
- THE HORNETS: Give Me A Kiss (1) / She’s My Baby (3) (VIP 25004, February 1964)
- R. DEAN TAYLOR: My Lady Bug Stay Away From That Beatle (4) / Poor Girl (5) (VIP 25005, unreleased)
- THE ANDANTES: Like A Nightmare (5) / If You Were Mine (6) (VIP 25006, March 1964)
- OMA HEARD: Lifetime Man (4) / Mr. Lonely Heart (7) (VIP 25008, September 1964)
- THE VELVELETTES: Needle In A Haystack (6) / Should I Tell Them (5) (VIP 25007, September 1964)
- MICKEY McCULLERS: Who You Gonna Run To (7) / Same Old Story (4) (VIP 25009, October 1964)
- THE MAJESTICS: Hello Love (6) / The Further You Look, The Less You See (5) (VIP 25010, unreleased)
- THE HEADLINERS: Tonight’s The Night (3) / You’re Bad News (2) (VIP 25011, October 1964)
- RAY ODDIS: Randy, the Newspaper Boy (1) / Happy Ghoul Tide (1) (VIP 25012, November 1964)
- THE VELVELETTES: He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin’ / Throw A Farewell Kiss (8) (VIP 25013, December 1964)
- THE DOWNBEATS: Do You Know What I’m Talkin’ About (5) / You Say You Love Me (4) (VIP 25007*, unreleased)
- HATTIE LITTLES: Conscience I’m Guilty (7) / You Got Me Worried (7) (VIP 25015, unreleased)
- THE VELVELETTES: Lonely Lonely Girl Am I / I’m The Exception To The Rule (7) (VIP 25017, May 1965)
- THE VOWS: Buttered Popcorn (3) / Tell Me (5) (VIP 25016, May 1965)
- THE LEWIS SISTERS: He’s An Oddball (4) / By Some Chance (2) (VIP 25018, May 1965)
- DANNY DAY: This Time Last Summer (2) / Please Don’t Turn The Lights Out (4) (VIP 25019, June 1965)
- DORSEY BURNETTE: Why Break My Heart (Just To Run Around) (6) / They’re Only Words (4) (VIP 25020, unreleased)
- RICHARD ANTHONY: I Don’t Know What To Do (5) / What Now My Love (1) (VIP 25022, August 1965)
- LITTLE LISA: Hang On Bill (3) / Puppet On A String (2) (VIP 25023, August 1965)
- THE LEWIS SISTERS: You Need Me (4) / Moonlight On The Beach (6) (VIP 25024, August 1965)
- THE HEADLINERS: We Call It Fun (3) / Voodoo Plan (4) (VIP 25026, October 1965)
- THE DALTON BOYS: I’ve Been Cheated (3) / Take My Hand (3) (VIP 25025, unreleased)
- THE DALTON BOYS: I’ve Been Cheated (3) / Something’s Bothering You (5) (VIP 25025, October 1965)
- R. DEAN TAYLOR: Let’s Go Somewhere (1) / Poor Girl (5) (VIP 25027, October 1965)
- THE MONITORS: Say You (8) / All For Someone (6) (VIP 25028, November 1965)
- THE VELVELETTES: A Bird In The Hand (Is Worth Two In The Bush) (8) / Since You’ve Been Loving Me (9) (VIP 25030, November 1965)
- CHRIS CLARK: Do Right Baby Do Right (9) / Don’t Be Too Long (3) (VIP 25031, December 1965)
- THE ELGINS: Put Yourself In My Place (7) / Darling Baby (8) (VIP 25029, December 1965)
* This catalogue number was already used for the Velvelettes’ Needle In A Haystack and thus seems unlikely, especially as there is no VIP 25014
(Click a song title to read a full review of that side. NB: The coloured numbers after each title indicate the highly subjective mark out of ten I gave that song on the day I happened to write about it. They weren’t intended to be taken too seriously.)