Groovy, Sexy & Soulful Part 58 Motown Edition

Diana Ross
Enjoy this Motown edition of ‘Groovy, sexy and soulful’!

“Mary Wells, was -- aside perhaps from the Miracles -- the artist most responsible for moving Motown from its noisier rock & roll beginnings into a smoother, more sophisticated soul sound. She had a lot of help in doing so from Smokey Robinson, who produced and wrote her biggest hits, including 1962's Top Ten single 'You Beat Me to the Punch' (which he co-wrote with Ronnie White of the Miracles). Robinson has said that he wanted to give soul music a calypso Caribbean feel on some of Wells' early hits, and 'You Beat Me to the Punch' is a good example of this, particularly in the bongo part. The soft yet sustaining tones of the vibraphones were also used extremely effectively, particularly at the part where the music stopped at the end of the verses, only for a vibe tinkle to be joined by Wells as she went back into the chorus. Robinson's production and the backup male vocals did a great deal to add to the quality of the record, but didn't overwhelm the importance of Wells' vocals, which projected a shy but captivating sensuality. In 'You Beat Me to the Punch', she excelled at personifying the feminine vulnerability of a woman with her eye on a guy, only to be taken aback to find that he wanted her at least as much as she did him.” (Quote: Allmusic.om)

Canadian singer-songwriter R. Dean Taylor is one of the most underrated acts ever to record for Motown Records. Although he wrote lots of chart-topping singles, like 'Love child' for The Sumpremes, his own single 'Gotta see Jane' received no promotion in the US. It was picked up in Europe and it became a hit in the Netherlands and the UK. After his American top 5 smash 'Indiana wants me' in 1970, 'Gotta see Jane' reached #67 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971, 4 years after its original release.

By far the best version of 'Don't leave me this way' is the one that Thelma Houston sang on Motown. Her vocals and the funky, almost neurotic bass from Henri Davis (who also played on 'Love hangover' from Diana Ross) make it a song about lust and desire, rather than love and sadness. That's also the difference between disco and soul in a nutshell. Thelma Houston obviously turns the soul song from Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes (sung by Teddy Pendergrass) into a sing-along (gay) disco anthem.

Tracklist:

Willie Hutch – In And Out (1982)
G.C. Cameron – You're What's Missing In My Life (1977)
Syreeta – Your Kiss Is Sweet (1974)
Dazz Band – Everyday Love (1982)
Smokey Robinson – Virgin Man (1974)
Platinum Hook – Gotta Find A Woman (1978)
Diana Ross ‎– Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To) (1975)
Marvin Gaye – Dark Side Of The World (1969)
The Jackson 5 ‎– Whatever You Got, I Want (1974)
The Vows – Tell Me (1965)
Brenda Holloway – How Many Times Did You Mean It? (1965)
Carolyn Crawford – Keep Stepping (Never Look Back) (1965)
Eddie Kendricks – Shoeshine Boy (1975)
Mary Wells – You Beat Me To The Punch (1962)
The Supremes – Nothing But Heartaches (1965)
Edwin Starr – Headline News (1966)
Tommy Good – Baby I Miss You (1964)
The Four Tops – Can’t Help Myself (1965)
The Undisputed Truth – Law Of The Land (1974)
The Temptations – Witchcraft (For Your Love) (1964)
R. Dean Taylor – Gotta See Jane (1968)
Leon Ware – Share Your Love (1976)
Thelma Houston – Don't Leave Me This Way (1976)


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