The first volume of Ace/Kent’s series dedicated to the male artists of Motown was entitled Satisfaction Guaranteed – but that title would be equally apt for the recent release One Track Mind: More Motown Guys, a second disc of rarities from the Sound of Young America. With 16 previously unissued cuts among this collection’s 24 tracks, it proves that the treasures of the Motown vault are far from exhausted. This is also one volume sure to keep your foot tapping and your body moving, with each track selected for maximum danceability!
Many of the label’s heaviest hitters are here, natch: The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Miracles, Edwin Starr and Marvin Gaye among them. The Temps’ “I’d Rather Forget,” written by William Stevenson and Ivy Jo Hunter (who’s also heard on his 1966 demo “Where Are You,” intended for Chris Clark) is an outtake from the Gettin’ Ready LP and boasts a typically sweet Eddie Kendricks lead. Eddie also gets a moment in the sun on the delightfully rhythmic “I Got Heaven Right Here on Earth,” later re-recorded with David Ruffin out front. Jimmy Ruffin, older brother of David, gets a slot here with his hard-driving cover of “The In Crowd,” intended for his 1969 Ruff ‘n’ Ready LP. Jimmy’s vocal and the rhythm arrangement are uniformly strong, but the track still feels as if it needs a bit of brass embellishment for a bit more oomph.
The Tops get “Can’t Stop This Feelin’,” from the songwriters James Dean, William Weatherspoon and Marilyn McLeod. It has all the hallmarks of a Tops hit, much as The Miracles’ “My Oh My What a Groove” (another apt title for this entire collection) is pure, irresistible early period Smokey. Mr. Robinson didn’t write “I’ve Gotta Find Myself (A True Love),” but his sensual stamp is all over the soulful and sleek Dave Hamilton melody. Marvin Gaye brings his youthfully silky vocals to Ed Cobb’s “The Touch of Venus” in slightly breakneck fashion; he’s also in full-out dance mode as he brings the party on the happy, brassy “Do You Wanna Go with Me.” Of course, the answer would have been yes!
The Eddie Holland/Norman Whitfield “The Boy from Crosstown” was one of those “my love is on the other side of the tracks” songs that proliferated in the ’60s. Keith Hughes’ always-edifying liner notes inform us that Whitfield tried placing the song with The Marvelettes and The Velvelettes, not to mention The Supremes. He finally got it placed with Gladys Knight and the Pips – and also recorded it with a gender alteration on Edwin Starr, as heard on One Track Mind. Based on its airing here, the raspy funk man’s impassioned 1968 version deserved a better fate – but happily, it’s off the shelf after nearly 50 years. Even better is Starr’s ebullient “Head Over Heels in Love with You, Baby,” gilded with Johnny Bristol’s horns and strings.
The Spinners attained their greatest success after decamping Detroit for Philadelphia and replacing their lead singer, but the group certainly left Gordy’s label with a rich legacy of music. They’re represented by two tracks on One Track Mind. “Tell Me How to Forget a True Love” appeared in Johnny Bristol’s version on Satisfaction Guaranteed; here is an even higher-octane version of the Bristol/William Stevenson song from 1966-1967, with a killer string arrangement. (Bristol himself sings “Kissing in the Shadows” here in his own pleasant, light voice, supported by cooing background girls.) 1966’s “Imagination is Running Wild,” Leon Ware’s earliest Motown copyright, is another driving and melodic number that makes one wonder why the group so rarely caught chart fire at Gordy’s label.
Frank Wilson was better known as a producer-songwriter than as an artist, but achieved notoriety on the northern soul scene for 1965’s “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do),” an original 45 of which once fetched over £25,000 (!). His stomping “I’ll Be Satisfied” is also tailor-made for a northern soul all-nighter; though cut in his home of Los Angeles with co-producer Marc Gordon, it nails the Funk Brothers’ Detroit sound. (The Detroit crew has a special spotlight here, as well. As a special treat, an instrumental mix of Brenda Holloway’s “Think It Over (Before You Break My Heart)” has been included, spotlighting the stunning strings and pounding piano of the Funk Brothers’ track sans vocals.)
Back in 2011, Ace anthologized the 1964-1971 recordings of Marv Johnson, the very first artist heard on a Motown single with “Come to Me” b/w “Whisper” on Tamla 101. Now, the compilers have dug back to the early part of Johnson’s Motown tenure, and “One Track Mind” – which lends its title to this compilation – shows that Marv definitely had what it takes! Like Marv, The Monitors have had a previous Ace/Kent volume dedicated to them. 2011’s Say You! anthologized the group’s released material with a healthy selection of unreleased material. But there’s still more. “Wish I Didn’t Love You So,” with a pleading lead from Richard Street, didn’t make the cut for that volume, but is easily the equal of the material there. Another track has been rescued from The Fantastic Four, subjects of Ace’s 2015 The Lost Motown Album. Lead singer James Epps gives his all on “I’m Here Now That You Need Me,” also recorded by J.J. Barnes and Dennis Edwards, but alas, the other members of the Four were never added to the track.
There are some artists here, too, only known to the most dedicated Motown connoisseurs: The Hit Pack, with the questioning ditty “Didn’t I,” from 1965; Choker Campbell’s Big Band with a swaggering 1964 instrumental cover of The Impressions’ “It’s All Right”; Sammy Ward’s “That Won’t Do” (an embryonic production by Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier before The Motown Sound had crystallized); and pianist-bandleader Richard “Popcorn” Wylie’s “Goose Wobbling Time,” a rockin’ boogie-woogie rarity from 1960-1961 built around a kooky would-be dance craze.
Wylie’s exhortation to “Wobble here, wobble there, wobble everywhere” might not have caught on (it couldn’t have helped that the track was never released!) but there’s plenty to get you wobbling on One Track Mind: More Motown Guys. It’s available now from Ace/Kent at the links below!
- I’ll Be Satisfied – Frank Wilson
- Where Are You – Ivy Jo
- One Track Mind – Marv Johnson
- Tell Me How to Forget a True Love – The Spinners
- The Girl from Crosstown – Edwin Starr
- Think It Over (Before You Break My Heart) – Earl Van Dyke and The Soul Brothers
- I’d Rather Forget – The Temptations
- Imagination is Running Wild – The Spinners
- The In Crowd – Jimmy Ruffin
- Wish I Didn’t Love You So – The Monitors
- I’m Here Now That You Need Me – The Fantastic Four
- Can’t Stop This Feelin’ – The Four Tops
- My Oh My What a Groove – The Miracles
- I Got Heaven Right Here on Earth – The Temptations
- The Touch of Venus – Marvin Gaye
- Head Over Heels in Love with You Baby – Edwin Starr
- Heart to Heart – Earl Van Dyke and The Soul Brothers
- Didn’t I – The Hit Pack
- Do You Wanna Go with Me – Marvin Gaye
- I’ve Gotta Find Myself (A True Love) – The Miracles
- It’s All Right – Choker Campbell’s Big Band
- Kissing in the Shadows – Johnny Bristol
- That Won’t Do – Sammy Ward
- Goose Wobbling Time – Popcorn Wylie
All tracks mono.
All tracks previously unissued except Tracks 13, 19 & 23 previously issued digitally on Motown Unreleased 1963; Tracks 15, 17 & 21 previously issued digitally on Motown Unreleased 1964; and Tracks 14 & 18 previously issued digitally on Motown Unreleased 1965