December 14, 2014
The short instrumental intro to “My Guy” is still instantly recognizable if you are of a certain age.
Mary Wells was the first artist to enter a recording studio for the legendary Motown label. Her single “The One Who Really Loves You” was the first top 10 hit in Motown history. And on May 16, 1964, her “My Guy” was the first number one song for the label where it remained for two weeks.
Her time with Motown was short. She signed at age 17 and left when she was 21 due to a disagreement over royalties. She would never again enjoy the success she had with Motown.
She passed away in 1992 from cancer leaving behind one of the signature non-British songs of the mid-1960’s.
April 12, 2013
Sometimes Mary Wells, 1943-1992, just slides under the radar when one thinks about the Motown label but she was one of its shining stars during its early days. She was signed to Motown at the age of 17. She was the first artist to record a top ten hit and was the first to reach number one with “My Guy,” which was her signature tune.
She would release three top ten singles during 1963. The second of the three, “You Beat Me To The Punch,” was issued during the late summer and peaked at number nine on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Hot 100. It also topped the Rhythm & Blues Chart.
She would chart 13 Pop Chart singles, 1961-1964, before leaving the label. She would chart ten more singles for various labels, 1965-1965 and would pass away from throat cancer in 1992.
June 29, 2012
The Miracles formed at Northern High School in Detroit during 1955. The original group consisted of lead singer Smokey Robinson, Emerson Rogers, Bobby Rogers, Ronnie White, and Bobby Moore. Emmerson Rogers left before their first hit and was replaced by Robinson’s future wife, Claudette Rogers.
The Miracles, with and without Smokey Robinson as the front man, would place 46 singles on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart, 1959-1975.
“The Tracks Of My Tears” was one of the group’s and Robinson’s signature songs. Released during the early summer of 1965, it rose to number 16 on the BILLBOARD Pop Chart.
After leaving the Miracles Robinson embarked on a aolo career that has lasted down to the present day.
June 27, 2012
“Since I Lost My Baby” may not be one of the best known songs by The Temptations or one of their biggest hits but it was one of their best.
David Ruffin supplied one of the better vocal performances of his career to the Smokey Robinson penned lyrics. Robinson produced the track and added strings and a thumping bass that were smooth and tough at the same time.
Released during the late summer of 1965, it rose to number 17 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart. A song well-worth finding.
May 2, 2012
During the 1960s the Motown label was primarily known for its smooth soul music that bordered on pop. Every once in awhile, however, they would move in a raw rhythm & blues direction.
Enter the Contours; Billy Gordon, Billy Hoggs, Joe Billingslea, Sylvester Potts, Huey Davis, and Hubert Johnson who were anything but smooth.
“Do You Love Me” was a a grtty R&B screamer that was catchy enough to stay in you mind for days. Released during the summer of 1962, it topped the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Rhythm & Blues Chart and peaked at number three on the Pop Charts.
Proving that a good song is always a good song, it was included in the 1988 movie, DIRTY DANCING. Released as a single it re-entered the Pop Charts and peaked at number 11.
April 26, 2012
Levi Stubbs, Renaldo Benson, Lawrence Payton, and Abdul “Duke: Fakir performed and recorded together as the Four Tops with any changes in personnel for close to 50 years.
The Motown label liked to control the material their artists released and had a formula they used many times in the srudio. “Reach Out I’ll Be There” was one of the few songs that managed to escape that formula.
The legendary songwriting team of Holland-Donzier-Holland enlisted the Four Tops to record one of their best creations. The song just assaults the senses and uses a counter-melody to push the song along and the rhythm section sounds like a symphony. Through it all Levi Stubbs lead vocal floats above the harmonies.
Released during the summer of 1966, it spend two weeks as the number one song on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.
It remains one of the best single releases in American music history.
April 24, 2012
“I Heard It Through The Grapevine” is one of the classic songs in American music history and one of the best singles ever to reach the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.
In just over three minutes there are horns, female backing voices, some strings, and a bass/drum foundation which all suppot Gaye’s, gritty at times and silky at others, vocals.
The lyrics are a painful journey in the search for personal truth and Marvin Gaye’s vocal provides just the right emotion.
It first reached the BILLBOARD Chart, November 23, 1968, and ultimately would spend seven weeks in the number one position. It was the number two song of the year, (Hey Jude by The Beatles was number one), but ranked as the number six biggest hit of the decade.
An essential listening experience.