The Temptations third UK Tamla Motown release was another record in the build-up to their own breakthrough to pop stardom. It was another writing and production credit for the talented and prolific Smokey Robinson and his Miracles colleagues.
The title promises much from the people that brought us “My Girl” and “My Guy”, but fails to reach the heights of either of them. If anything it owes more to My Guy than to the Temptations own hit.
In fact, it wasn’t even a case of Motown’s well documented bandwagon hopping with so many sound-alike follow ups to hit records, for Mary Wells hit in the USA had been almost 18 months earlier and the US hit with My Girl had been three records back in their release schedule.
In the UK, neither record would appear on Tamla Motown for some time to come.
This is not the best known of the Miracles catalogue and as the follow-up to The Tracks of My Tears, it simply isn’t a very strong song.
The track was lifted from the Miracles album, Going To A Go Go, although I am not sure whether the single or the album actually came first.
It was written by Smokey and the Miracles, who were becoming a seriously self-contained songwriting and production unit within the Motown stable, in my view outstripping even the Holland-Dozier-Holland Machine at this time. It was logical, therefore, for them to take control of their own output. However,from the evidence in these grooves, the pressure on Smokey and the team to come up with original hits for other artists seems to have led to him using a tried and tested formula song for his own group’s single.
Lyrically, it’s nowhere near Smokey’s best, but we can forgive him when the next single will turn out to be the title track, and timeless classic from that album, Going To A Go Go.
Perhaps this was the record that sealed Marvin Gaye’s place in the top echelons of Motown’s stars. The transition from drummer to artist was complete with this song written by Smokey Robinson and the rest of the Miracles who had stuck pretty closely to the formula set by this team’s previous release, I’ll be Doggone.
He was nowhere near the creative peaks of his 1970’s albums yet, but the foundations had been laid and the concrete set solid with this great single.
The Contours – First I Look At The Purse – TMG 531
This Northern Soul stalwart record has been a fixture since the earliest days of the dance genre, right back to the Mods and before the Northern Soul label had been devised in 1970 by soul music fan, collector, retailer and journalist Dave Godin, who incidentally was also the founder of the Tamla Motown Appreciation Society.
The song was written by Smokey Robinson and his Miracles band-mate Bobby Rogers and is is essentially a comedy song, although for the Northern Soul scene, its appeal lies much more in its driving rhythm from the Funk Brothers.
This song marked a parting of the ways for the Contours as the original lead singer, Billy Gordon left after this single.
When the Tamla Motown label in the UK got their hands on this heartfelt slice of pure soul, they must have had high hopes that it would repeat it’s US Top 40 success where it reached number 17. I share the disappointment that must have been felt in in Hayes, Middlesex, at the EMI headquarters.
This definitive version has the inimitable David Ruffin out front, but listen out for Melvin Franklin’s bass “Oh Yeah” a couple of lines in to the song.
In fact this song has never made an impact here in the UK, despite versions of it by a number of UK and US artists. The Action released their George Martin-produced version in 1966. Luther Vandross covered the song in 1982 album Angie Stone re-recorded it for the Vandross tribute album So Amazing: An All-Star Tribute to Luther Vandross. Also in 2005, the Legion of Mary, fronted by Jerry Garcia released an album containing an instrumental version from a May 22, 1975 concert. On Michael McDonald’s 2003 album, Motown (the first of 2 albums of Motown cover songs), the song was covered as well.
But as part of my project to remember and re-listen to every Tamla Motown single, let’s bring back a few memories.