Part 6 of my search for The 10 Most Exciting Records...Ever! covers Motown and R&B/Soul songs released from the mid 60s through the mid 70s.
15. “When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes” – Supremes (December 1963)
I liked the Primettes. I liked the early Supremes. After they started calling themselves Diana Ross & the Supremes and pandering to middle class white audiences, I started tuning out. "Lovelight," one of the Supremes' early career Motown singles, is also one of their best.
14. “A Lady’s Man” – Volcanos (November 1966)
Arctic Records, one of the major players on the 1960s Philadelphia music scene, was owned by Jimmy Bishop, program director of WDAS radio. Records on the Arctic imprint were distributed by Jamie/Guyden. J/G used its Jamie label to release doo-wop, pop and folk rock singles including "The Pied Piper" by Crispian St. Peters and the big Dell favorite "Let's Get Lost on a Country Road" by the Kit Kats. Jamie/Guyden also established the Phil-LA of Soul label to release 45s in the r&b and soul categories.
The Volcanos, recording on Arctic, had a regional hit with "Storm Warning," but the group knocked me out with a subsequent release entitled "A Lady's Man," a song I first came to know by watching Jerry Blavat’s Discophonic Scene. I vividly recall that awesome sight as Jerry’s sensational dancers formed a big boss line and got busy to this badass soul stormer. "A Lady’s Man" exemplifies the bolder, funkier style of r&b that was emerging in the mid 60s and gaining widespread favor over traditional sweet soul.
The Volcanos successfully reinvented themselves in the 70s and became the Trammps, one of the most popular acts of the disco era. "Disco Inferno" became the group’s signature song and biggest hit, but I preferred their earlier disco-era recordings, "Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart," "Pray All You Sinners" and "Hold Back The Night."
13. “Stubborn Kind of Fellow” – Marvin Gaye (October 1962)
Early on, Marvin Gaye grew restless. A consistent hitmaker for Motown, Marvin became increasingly discontent with the direction his career was headed. Following his heart, Marvin abandoned love songs and recorded serious music that addressed social issues. Then came another turn in the road with "Sexual Healing," followed by gunfire and his untimely death. Let's rewind to happier times and listen to Marvin's first hit song and my Pick to Click as his most exciting, "Stubborn Kind of Fellow."
12. "Up the Ladder to the Roof" - Supremes (March 1970)
When "Up the Ladder to the Roof" started playing on the radio in March of 1970, I knew that it was time for me to Meet the Supremes all over again. The new and improved Supremes lineup featured Jean Terrell in place of Diana Ross who had left the group to pursue a solo recording career and make movies. Three of the songs released by Jean and the Supremes are among my all time favorites including the buoyant "Up the Ladder," a song that got the 70s decade started on an optimistic note.
11. “Nathan Jones” – Supremes (May 1971)
When oldies stations play ad nauseam the same handful of million sellers by the Diana Ross-led Supremes, I cringe and my soul cries "Stop! in the name of heaven!" Not so with songs like "Nathan Jones," released in the spring of 1971 by the new Supremes. With psychedelic overtones, an irresistible beat and soulful, street wise, girl group harmony, "Nathan Jones" has a fresh sound that I never get tired of hearing. The new Supremes group also put some much needed fun and pizzazz back into Motown music. For two years, Motown had hammered away at social themes with songs like "Love Child," "I'm Livin' in Shame," "Run Away Child, Runnin' Wild," "Don't Let the Joneses Get You Down," "Ball of Confusion," "War," and "Stop the War Now." Overdosed on bleak message music I eagerly embraced the bright new sound of the Supremes.
Don't touch that dial! My countdown of the most exciting soul sounds continues in my next post.
Have a Shady day!