The Lozarithm Lens

By lozarithm

Something New

I pre-ordered this 2CD collection some time before Christmas, and it arrived on this day. Mary Wells was Motown's first superstar and was known as the Queen Of Motown after the massive success of My Guy. As with all of their roster of artists, she recorded far more songs than could ever be released, trying out with all the producers they had. Her success was short lived, though, as her first husband, Herman Griffin, persuaded her to leave the label. He was a promoter for Motown until they left, and also one of their back-up singers. Her departure was a shock for Berry Gordy, and it is rumoured that a reason for her lack of subsequent success was that he put pressure on local radio stations not to promote her records. Griffin could have been another cause: he couldn't read or write music but conducted her band while she performed, and upstaged her by performing back flips and somersaults while she sung ballads.

Before she left, The Beatles had stated that Mary Wells was their favorite American singer and invited her to join their UK tour. She was the first Motown artist to appear here. Only two other female singers ever opened for them, a Los Angeles based Motown singer called Brenda Holloway and Jackie DeShannon. After she had left Motown Mary Wells recorded a tribute album, Love Songs To The Beatles.

Beset by ill health, drug problems and a botched suicide attempt, she died prematurely of cancer in 1992.

Half of the songs on this double CD are previously unreleased, the rest being stereo mixes that the label claims are new to CD (although I had several already on a CD on a German Charly-subsidiary label). I'll Be Available, a Smokey Robinson song and production, for example, was intended for a B-side on a single that was shelved with her departure, and turned up on a compilation called Vintage Stock a year or two later. Brenda Holloway, groomed by Berry Gordy as her replacement, later added her own vocal to the backing track for another Motown B-side.


Blip #905
Consecutive Blip #000
Day #1041

TG-1 setting: Super Macro, Magic 'Dramatic' effect

Tuesday 28 August 1962: Whitby Rail Bridge (posted 1 February 2013)
Wednesday 29 August 1962: Camping In Whitby (posted 1 February 2013)
Sunday 2 September 1962: Scarborough (posted 1 February 2013)

Lozarhythm Of The Day:
Warpaint - Billie Holiday (2007)
This is a song about heroin addiction, from which Mary Wells had suffered, though it is dedicated here to Billie Holiday, another casualty. However, I have included it here as a large portion of the song incorporates the lyric of My Guy, which Smokey Robinson wrote for Mary Wells.

One year ago: Still Life With Spotty Mugs

Sign in or get an account to comment.