"It almost seems funny, but the tougher the life of this person, the more it is bordered with barricades imposed by society, politics, a tough existence, the more the Moon will drive the imagination and the need to create in the world a small world that is only his, in which he is free to read, write, paint, travel, believe that true values are not lost by gathering around him intellectuals, artists, people of style and class"
The Sapphires “Our Love Is Everywhere” (ABC-Paramount 10590-B, 1964)
Sometimes it helps to not start too big. It leaves the door open for larger successes down the road, and to establish a beach head reputation of talent for some singers. It *almost* worked that way for The Sapphires as their “Who Do You Love” got to the middle of the Top 40 during the spring of ‘64.
The momentum crashed for some bizarre reason as they left the tiny Swan imprint and landed at ABC-Paramount. Once again it proves that there was a precarious balance to strike between a small label that could nurture and put their full supports behind your talents and a large label that you might get lost in the mechanics of recording, promotion and touring.
That’s the situation The Sapphires found themselves in as Summer leaked into Fall of 1965. It would take their first effort from 1965 and ditching the male background vocals to return them to some semblance of chart fortune.
Although their descent from being the toast of the Top 5 during late 1962 into 1963 seemed like eons ago by the middle of 1964, The Orlons were still ready, able and willing to try again, and again.
Legendary in their ability to cover material, their LPs chockful of the current hit parade songs are a great study in how to own a song that isn’t your own. After 4 years of blending their own originals with covers, they were consummate pros at breathing new life into old songs.
So, given their Top 20 knock out success with their cover of Gary US Bonds’s “Not Me” the previous year, it’s surprising this killer update of “Heartbreak Hotel” didn’t get the A-side status when released halfway through 1964. Proven before that a good cover has long legs, this should have been the song that reversed their chart slide into oblivion.
The Shirelles “Thank You, Baby” (Scepter 1278, Pop #63, 1964)
Well, this was awkward. As you might/might not know, The Shirelles and The Supremes were on the same Dick Clark Caravan of Stars Tour during the summer of 1964. Their trajectories as groups couldn’t be any further apart however. As The Supremes were ascending to the top, The Shirelles were on the road while they were in a artistic and contractual quagmire.
All the more interesting is that each groups singles as they went on tour were about negotiating the end of relationships. While “Where Did Our Love Go?” symbolized a perfect sense of bewilderment, apparently the straightforward sarcastic tone of this Shirelles single didn’t exactly set listeners ears alight.
Weirdly the more mournful B-side “Doomsday” is more close in theme to “Where Did Our Love Go” if we’re making cross comparisons. What we do have is one of the contributions of group member Beverly Lee making a prominent 45 rpm A-side debut; and a return to the group giving a shot at writing their own material once again.
Before Gamble solidified his partnership with Huff, he spent his days in Philadelphia recording, writing and producing for a bevy of folks on a number of labels.
This sleepy spec of judgement was the second single release by the obscure Marva Lee. Allthough other more uptempo side is far more favored nowadays, for a Sunday Afternoon as the dog legs of summer stretch in, I find this side far more satisfying and appropriate.
Irma Thomas “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)” (Imperial 66041 Pop #52, 1964)
Support your Soul Survivors y’all. Tonight’s love goes out to Irma Thomas, who, at 73 still tours extensively and might be coming to a town near you. In a remarkable recording and performing career that spans 55 years, her voice has not aged or weathered. Surprising to me is the amount of shading and nuance, long a rich part of her recorded performances is even more present in her live performances.
So in that spirit of highlighting the subtle, sophisticated way she seeks out speech and sonic patterns, I bring you her moderate chart entry follow up to her Pop breakthrough. “Anyone” is perhaps her most insular, personal sounding recording of her Imperial Years, sounding more like a sung recital of a diary entry. In the powers of her vocal acting here, she brings you into her intimate world and you wouldn’t really realize she’s trying to sell you a record.
The Blossoms “So Much Love” (1968, Unreleased. From So Much Love, A Darlene Love Anthology, 2008)
*Happy Birthday Darlene Love*
Ultimate recognition comes late in life, and Darlene Love is receiving it in spades this year. Too bad I have no clue what her actual age is, because like a typical Leo, a few different birth years are floating around on the internet. Anyone want to verify whether 1938 or 1941 is reality?
In a secular recording career that ticks past 55 years at this point, Darlene actually was one of the most prominent voices you kind of, sort of knew in 60’s popular music. Whether it be Crystals hits with her lead voice or being one of the Shinding regulars, she wasn’t wanting for attention.
What she might have wanted was a hit record under her or her groups (The Blossoms) name. However that proved to be the hardest task as for whatever reason, with plenty of exposure, they couldn’t capture record buyers the same way they captivated fans. Enter this song far more associated with Dusty In Memphis, but recorded but unreleased by Darlene, Fanita and Jean the same year.
Tammi Terrell “You Ain’t Living ‘Til You’re Lovin’ (1967, Unreleased. From Come On And See Me: The Complete Solo Recordings, 2010)
So it came up in conversation last night, in a week of conversations where the phone call would oddly drop when this subject came up. I finally made it through that conversation to that moment of honesty, and it’s pretty much summed up with this solo-come duet that Tammi Terrell recorded.
This particular effort was one of the clear examples of Tammi laying down a complete lead by herself, the addition of Marvin came later (if you compare the duet version, it’s pretty obvious that it’s not a re-record of Tammi’s lead). This is an apt metaphor for said conversation, gotta lay down what you have and hear who heeds your call, right?
Anyways, to this, the last day of Mars in Libra be one of the last that I fly solo. Sappy I know, sometimes the music hits me in a personal way, y’all. And here’s hoping as the year slides past the mid point, 2014 brings you all the love you need for livin’ as well.
Chuck Jackson “I Need You” (Wand 179, Pop #75, 1965)
*Happy Belated Birthday Chuck Jackson*
Former Del-Viking and Prince of early 60’s uptown soul Chuck Jackson celebrated birthday #77 yesterday. Although he didn’t release the biggest of chart entries through his multi-decade recording career, he did craft some of the finest efforts in terms of R&B Crooners during the 1960’s.
Most overlooked is his run of moderate hits from 1964 through 1966. More attention (deservedly) goes in this period to his duets with Maxine Brown, but his solo output, much of which made moderate entry ways into the Billboard Hot 100, is also worth a listen.
Although his success wasn’t top flight, the material and the writing/production teams that worked with him were. So here we find his first chart entry of ‘65 being from the pens of Goffin & King. This hymnal of an R&B song deserved more attention than it got then, so here’s hoping a digital spin or two gives it a signal boost 50 years on.
Patrice Holloway “Lucky, My Boy” (Capitol 5680-B, 1966)
Luck be a Holloway tonight. The sisters of Watts spent a large part of the mid 60’s moonlighting for other labels along with having deals with major labels; Brenda with Motown of course, and Patrice with Capitol. I guess it was lucky of the both of them to never get caught as they twisted and twiddled from label to label trying out different sounds and sites.
It is worth noting that their big label efforts were extremely glossy top flight efforts, even if they didn’t prove lucky on the Billboard Hot 100 every time. This easy breezy breath of praise composed the B-side of Patrice’s Capitol debut. Although neither side charted, like her sister’s version of "He’s My Kind Of Fellow," it works splendidly on a Midsummer’s Night worthy of dreaming.
Dionne Warwick “(In The) Land Of Make Believe” (From the LP Make Way For Dionne Warwick, 1964)
It wasn’t just the summer of The Supremes breaking through. Indeed, in terms of visibility, the Summer of ‘64 was an amazing time in which not only were African American Women were reeling off hit record after hit record (counter to the normal narrative that it was a full on British Invasion), but it was the first time that the women behind the hits blaring out on Top 40 radio gained a foothold in media visibility, notably television.
Dionne Warwick, in a number of ways was marketed almost like at “One Woman Supreme.” Look no further than the tri-panel photo cover used for her 3rd LP from which this track springs. It was the first time that she was featured rather prominently on her own LP cover, and the tri-panel effect is something Motown copied for two later Supremes LPs.
Meanwhile, her version of this once upon a time Drifters B-side gets a gauzy, dreamy arrangement that’s less ominous (and frankly less laden with stalker undertones as The Drifters version) and more full of healthy fantasy. It’s fair to say that this version was the template that Atlantic sprung forth with when arranging Dusty Springfield’s version in ‘68.