BABY I’VE GOT IT! MORE MOTOWN GIRLS.
Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls.
Label: Ace Records.
As 1959 dawned, Detroit based songwriter, producer and musical impresario Berry Gordy Jr had already discovered The Miracles and started to build a successful portfolio of recording artists. There was only one problem, what would Berry Gordy Jr do with these talented artists and groups? It was Smokey Robinson the leader of The Miracles that came up with the answer, when he suggested that Berry Gordy Jr found his own record label.
This made sense to Berry Gordy Jr, who borrowed $800 from his family to form his own R&B label.Originally, Berry Gordy Jr planned to call his new label Tammy Records, after a song that had been recorded and released by Debbie Reynolds. However, there was only one problem, someone had beaten Berry Gordy Jr to the punch, and he had to think of a new name for his nascent label. Eventually, Tamla Records was incorporated on January the ‘12th’ 1959, in Detroit, Michigan.
Nine days later, Tamla Records began trading on January the ‘21st’ 1959, and not long after that, Marv Johnson’s single Come to Me was the label’s first release. Tamla Records second release was another single by Marv Johnson, You Got What It Takes, which was released later in 1959 and reached number two in the US R&B charts. This was a huge boost to Tamla Records.
Already Berry Gordy Jr was making plans to expand and had formed the Rayber label which released Wade Jones’ single Insane. However, the ballad failed commercially and is nowadays, one of the rarest singles released by one of Berry Gordy Jr’s labels.
Later in 1959, Berry Gordy Jr’s next label, Motown Records released The Miracles’ single Bad Girl, which was released nationally by Chess Records. Little did Berry Gordy Jr realise that his new label Motown Records would become one of the most successful and iconic soul labels.
In the spring of 1960 Berry Gordy Jr decided to merge his two small labels, and on April the ’14th’ 1960 Tamla Records and Motown Records were merged into one label new company, Motown Record Corporation. Six months later, The Miracles released their single Shop Around nationally on the ‘15th’ of October 1960, which topped the US R&B charts late in the year, and reached number two in the US Billboard 100 in early 1961. By then, Shop Around had become Tamla Records’ first million-selling hit single.
After the success of Shop Around, Berry Gordy Jr started looking for new signings for his labels, and discovered the then unknown Mary Wells, who would go on to enjoy hits with the Smokey Robinson compositions You Beat Me To The Punch and My Guy. Mary Wells became one of many successful female singers and girl groups who blossomed at Motown Records. They’re celebrated on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls, which was recently released by Ace Records.
Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls features twenty-four tracks, and is the long-awaited followup to Love and Affection-More Motown Girls which was released in late-2015. It was an album of rarities, and so is Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls. Fourteen of the songs on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls have never been released before. The other ten tracks were first made available as Motown Unreleased downloads between 2014 and 2017. However, these tracks have never been released on CD, and make their debut on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls.
The best way to describe Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls is a carefully curated compilation of mostly uptempo tracks that were recorded between 1961 and 1969, and features some of Motown’s leading ladies. This includes Mary Wells, Gladys Knight and The Pips, The Marvelettes, Brenda Holloway, Martha and The Vandellas, Rita Wright and Kim Weston. They’re joined by some of the lesser known names that recorded for Motown Records, including Liz Lands, LaBrenda Ben, Thelma Brown, Little Lisa and Yvonne Fair. They all play a part in the Motown Records’ story, which is celebrated on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls.
Not all of the artists on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls wanted to sign to Berry Gordy Jr’s label. Gladys Knight was reluctant to sign to Motown, fearing the group would end up as part of its musical “production line.” Ironically, The Pips who were just backing singers outvoted Gladys Knight and she signed on the dotted line in 1965.
On the ‘19th’ of April 1966 Gladys Knight and The Pips recorded their first song for Motown Records, In My Heart I Know It’s Right, which opens Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls. It’s a melodic horn driven stomper that was produced by Johnny Bristol and Harvey Fuqua, who bring out the best in Gladys Knight as she brings the lyrics to this irresistible stomping dancer to life. Just over a year later, on the ‘11th’ of May 1967, Gladys Knight and The Pips recorded Is This Why (I Gave My Love To You) in Los Angeles with producer Dennis Lussier who penned the song with Debbie Dean. Gladys Knight delivers a hurt filled vocal on this mid tempo hidden gem that never saw the light of day until 2017.
Prolific is the best word to describe the three years Brenda Holloway spent at Motown Records. She recorded 150 songs, albeit some were demos, and many others have never been release. This includes the original mix of Brenda Holloway’s Without Love You Lose A Good Feelin’ which was recorded during May and June of 1966 and produced by William Weatherspoon. He plays his part in a hook-laden dancer that maybe was the one that got away for Brenda Holloway? Her other contribution is Baby I’ve Got It which was recorded on the ‘22nd’ of June 1966 and goes from 0-60 within a few seconds, and is sure to find favour within the Northern Soul scene.
Ashford and Simpson penned and produced It’s Been A Long Time Happenin’ which was the recorded by the Motown house band The Funk Brothers on the ‘29th’ of September 1967. All that remained was for Tammi Terrell to record her vocal. Sadly, on October the ’14th 1967, she collapsed onstage and when she returned home to Virginia was diagnosed with a brain tumour. This was a devastating blow for Tammi Terrell and everyone at Motown Records. With Tammi Terrell unable to record It’s Been A Long Time Happenin’ which was reassigned to Rita Wright. She laid down a heartfelt but urgent vocal on the ‘16th’ of February 1968 which sometimes sounds similar to Diana Ross. However, Rita Wright’s version of It’s Been A Long Time Happenin’ was never released and fifty years later, is heard for the first time on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls.
Between 1963 and 1964 Liz Lands recorded over a 100 songs for Motown Records, including a cover of Frank Wilson’s It’s Crazy Baby. It was produced by Hal Davis and Marc Gordon, and was completed on the ‘25th’ of October 1964. Despite a radio friendly commercial sound, It’s Crazy Baby was never released and is another song that makes its debut Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls.
Ann Bogan was discovered by singer, songwriter and producer Harvey Fuqua singing in a Detroit church, and signed her along with two friends who became Challengers III. They released three singles on the Tri-Phi label, and Ann Bogan also duetted with Harvey Fuqua on the What Can You Do. However, when Harvey Fuqua joined Motown, so did Ann Bogan. She recorded several songs including There Are Things which was written by Gwen Gordy and Harvey Fuqua who took charge of production. Sadly, There Are Things was never released and Ann Bogan’s vocal powerhouse has lain unreleased since it was recorded on the ‘4th’ of April 1963. Maybe it’s the one that got away for Ann Bogan who was obviously a talented singer?
Martha and The Vandellas also feature twice on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls. Their first contribution is I’m Willing To Pay The Price which was penned and produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland on the 3rd’ of April 1963. It’s melodic and catchy with horns replacing the trademark stomping beat on a track that should’ve been released as a single. Very different is Martha and The Vandellas’ other contribution Mr Misery (Let Me Be). This ballad was recorded in 1962 and was produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland. They deploy percussion during the arrangement that sashays along, as Martha and The Vandellas showcase their vocal prowess.
Berry Gordy wrote and produced When Someone’s Good To You for Oma Page. It was recorded on the ‘7th’ of July 1964 with Oma Page delivering a tender, heartfelt vocal while handclaps, harmonies and horns accompany her. However, one can only wonder what the song would’ve sound like with out the handclaps that are omnipresent?
Robert Hamilton wrote and produce I Up And Think Of You for Kim Weston, which they recorded in 1963. It features a sensual and soulful vocal from one of Motown Records’ most talented female vocalists, who sadly, didn’t enjoy the success her talent deserved.
Mary Wells was the first female vocalist to sign for Motown Records, and enjoyed a string of hit singles. However, very little is known about the Berry Gordy penned She Don’t Love You. Neither the date of recoding, nor where it was recorded is known. All that is known is that it was recorded outside Hitsville USA. That was where the slick arrangement with dancing strings and harmonies that accompany Mary Wells on this long-lost hidden gem.
A jazz-tinged piano opens The Marvelettes’ Playboy which is another track where details of the recording are unknown. Just the piano accompanies The Marvelettes who showcase their vocal prowess against an understated arrangement. It’s a similar case on The Marvelettes’ other contribution Sweet Talkin’ Guy, which was recorded during two days in early June 1966. By then, The Chiffons version of Sweet Talkin’ Guy was still in the charts when The Marvelettes recorded this memorable and melodic cover.
Strings sweep and swirl as Barbara McNair’s You’ve Got Possibilities unfolds. It was produced by producer Frank Wilson with Barbara McNair adding a sassy vocal on the ‘24th’ of May 1966. When combined with The Funk Brothers’ backing track the result is one of the highlights of Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls, and song that is unlike much of the music coming out of Hitsville USA at that time.
Closing Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls is So Long which was recorded in Chicago by Kim Weston on the ‘15th’ of January 1964 and finds producer William Stevenson reinventing her as a torch singer. It’s a powerful and poignant song, and very different to the type of music Kim Weston was recording in 1964.
For soul fans or even anyone with even a passing interest in Motown Records, then Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls which was recently released by Ace Records is sure to be of interest to them. It features fourteen previously unreleased songs and ten tracks that were first made available as Motown Unreleased as downloads between 2014 and 2017. However, these tracks have never been released on CD, and make their debut on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls.
It features some of the most successful female singers and girls groups who were signed to Motown Records between 1961 and 1969 when the twenty-four tracks on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls were released. There’s also contributions from artists who didn’t enjoy the same success, and only play a small or walk on part in the Motown story. However, many of these artists had plenty of talent, but didn’t get the break that could’ve transformed their career.
Now over fifty years later, and many of these artists can be heard on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls, which is the long-awaited followup to Love and Affection-More Motown Girls which was released in late-2015. Two-and-half years later and Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls is the latest instalment in Ace Records occasional series and is full of hidden gems from familiar faces and new names which for far too long, have languished in the vaults of Berry Gordy Jr’s iconic soul label.
Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls.
- Posted in: Soul
- Tagged: Ace Records, Baby I've Got It! More Motown Girls, Brenda Holloway, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Kim Weston, LaBrenda Ben, Little Lisa, Liz Lands, Love and Affection-More Motown Girls, Martha and The Vandellas, Mary Wells, Rita Wright, The Marvelettes, Thelma Brown, Yvonne Fair