Our latest collection of 60s Motown magic from the company’s stable of fabulous female talent features many tracks previously available only as digital downloads, and six unreleased in any format. Here’s series mastermind Keith Hughes with some background on those six exclusive unissued titles:
We lead off with ‘This Love I’ve Got’, a great belter originally assigned to Ivy Jo Hunter. His version hasn’t survived (if it was ever cut) but Martha & the Vandellas’ recording is sensational. The key changes are all “apparent”, edging the song upwards to keep the dance floor lively: the track fades in the same key in which it started.
After two singles on VIP, the Lewis Sisters’ recording career with Motown was effectively over, but they continued writing and cutting demos for the company; ‘My World Is Crumbling’ was their penultimate effort. Theirs is the original version of a track now known as a Brenda Holloway classic, thanks to the appearance of her recording on the popular “A Cellarful Of Motownǃ” CD series.
‘Good Good Feeling’ is possibly the last of Brenda Holloway’s 100-plus Motown recordings, about three quarters of which languished in the vaults until relatively recent times. It’s clearly unfinished – strings are shown on the recording sheet, yet are not present on the tape – but nonetheless Brenda gives it her best. Following some anguish over her tracks being passed over so many times, she left the company in 1968 to concentrate on married life.
Mississippi-born blues singer Hattie Littles recorded over 40 sides for Motown, almost all of which were unissued at the time. Although she had only one release, she was a fixture at the company between 1962 and 1964, touring with the Spinners and Marvin Gaye when not busy recording. ‘When I Was In School’ is from the pen of Earl Johnson.
Singing actress Barbara McNair had been with Motown for nearly three years when she cut the only known version of ‘Watching A Plane In The Sky’, an early Tom Baird song. Her time there was coming to an end: she had released two long-players and four singles, but hadn’t scored a hit, and her film career was beginning to take off. She would soon star as Sidney Poitier’s wife in They Call Me Mr Tibbs!, and movie roles don’t come much higher profile than that.
‘In The Neighborhood’, here by Connie Haines, was recorded by numerous Motown artists (sometimes with the alternate ‘On The Avenue’ lyrics) although not released by any of them at the time. Connie joined the company in 1965; she stayed for less than a year, releasing only one single, but did have the distinction of being the first to record ‘For Once In My Life’, one of the company’s most covered songs
1. THIS LOVE I’VE GOT - Martha & The Vandellas
2. NOTHING BUT A FOOL - Gladys Knight & The Pips
3. I’M IN LOVE (AND I KNOW IT) (Alternate Lead) – The Velvelettes
4. GOOD GOOD FEELING - Brenda Holloway
5. I’M SO HELPLESS (WHEN I’M WITH YOU) - Debbie Dean
6. CAN’T FIGURE IT OUT - The Lewis Sisters
7. A LOVE SO DEEP INSIDE - The Velvelettes
8. SHOW ME THE WAY - Gladys Knight & The Pips
9. HOLD ME OH MY DARLING - Ann Bogan
10. I DON’T WANT YOUR PROMISES - LaBrenda Ben
11. DROP IN THE BUCKET - Kim Weston
12. DON’T BE TOO LONG - Anita Knorl
13. IT’S HARD TO WALK AWAY - Martha & The Vandellas
14. STUCK UP - Oma Heard
15. MY DADDY KNOWS BEST - Little Lisa
16. IN TWENTY WORDS OR LESS - LaBrenda Ben
17. WHEN I WAS IN SCHOOL - Hattie Littles
18. KEEP ME - Brenda Holloway
19. NEVER TRUST A MAN - Chris Clark
20. WATCHING A PLANE IN THE SKY - Barbara McNair
21. IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD - Connie Haines
22. MY WORLD IS CRUMBLING - The Lewis Sisters
23. SEND HIM TO ME - Debbie Dean
24. CAN’T WE BE STRANGERS AGAIN - Blinky
25. ALL I COULD DO WAS CRY - Yvonne Fair