One of my favorite various artists record albums of the 1960s was The Motown Sound, Vol. 6.
I bought the 16-track LP because it contained several of the Dell’s greatest hits:
“Don’t Mess with Bill"
‘Going to a Go-Go”
“This Old Heart of Mine”
“Just a Little Misunderstanding”
I was also delighted to find three other excellent songs on the album that were unfamiliar. All three quickly became favorites. These three songs were so good that I wondered why I had never heard them before. When I acquired Joel Whitburn’s Record Research books a few years later and looked up the three songs I was surprised to see how poorly they had performed on the Billboard chart.
One of the gems that I discovered on the album was Tammi Terrell’s “I Can’t Believe You Love Me.” This fine solo effort by Tammi charted in January of 1966 and ran out of steam at #72.
Tammi Terrell bonus track:
Tammi tried again. In the late spring of 1966 she released another soul satisfying single, “Come on and See Me.”
"Come on and See Me" was right in the pocket, yet it also performed poorly on the chart, grinding to a halt at #80 around the 4th of July.
Another great song on The Motown Sound Vol. 6 was "As Long as There is L-O-V-E Love" written and produced by Smokey Robinson and sung by Jimmy Ruffin.
“As Long as There is L-O-V-E Love” turned up on the Billboard Bubbling Under chart on the first day of 1966.
The song bubbled for three weeks and only got to #120 before it fizzled out!
Jimmy Ruffin bonus track:
A major northern soul dance floor filler in the clubs of Great Britain, "He Who Picks a Rose" remained unreleased as a single.
With the same backing arrangement as "I Gotta Find a Way to Get You Back," Jimmy's "Rose" was a bloomin' hit just waiting to happen. Too bad it never hit the streets as a 45. "Gotta Find a Way," meanwhile, was a great slice of Motown recorded by the Temptations, by Tammi Terrell with the Dennis Edwards-led Tempts and by Tammi solo. Here's Tammi's version.
Like the Marvelettes, the Velvelettes were another Motown girl group eclipsed by the Supremes.
The best known Velvelettes record, “Needle in a Haystack,” was also included on my Motown Sound album. Of all the featured songs in this post, "Needle" was the most successful. It climbed the charts in October and November of 1964 and finished at #45. A superb soul song like this one should have gone top 10!
Now let's sample a couple of Velvelettes bonus tracks.
The Velvelettes were an attractive girl group with a wonderful sound and some great material. They should have been a star attraction. Instead, their releases became less and less successful. Case in point: “He Was Really Saying Something” from February 1965, a record that stalled at #64.
Another excellent recording by the Velvelettes was “These Things Will Keep Me Loving You.”
Yet another chart underachiever, "These Things" bubbled under in October of 1966 but never climbed above #102.
What happened? Was the seven word title "These Things Will Keep Me Loving You" too long and cumbersome to allow this fine song to catch on?
Not one of the above Motown masterpieces made it into the top 40. Most didn’t even come close. Why didn’t these songs become hits? Why didn’t these talented artists become superstars?
It is disheartening to realize how many gifted artists failed to achieve the success that they deserved because they weren’t promoted properly; and how many times record company execs ordered black music to be cleaned-up, prettied-up, sanitized and repackaged to make it more palatable to white audiences.
The weasels didn't think that white America could handle the truth! Listen up, mister businessman. When it comes to soul music I take mine black. Hold the vanilla. Give it to me straight. Give me some truth. Give me Linda Jones!
Have a Shady day!
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