Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Oh, Those Marvelous Marvelettes!

"You can tell who the pioneers are by the arrows in their backs" - GAIL DAVIES, country music performer/producer

The conventions of a 1960's Motortown Revue concert didn't particularly translate well into a 33 1/3 RPM record album. But for all its seemingly primative recording techniques and sound quality, they do manage to capture at the least a scintilla of the dynamicism and excitement these live concerts generated. Case in point was the Marvelettes. While their peers were content to sway in the background, the Marvelettes had a dymanic, high-energy stage act that set them apart (that was, until Cholly Atkins cleaned it up, toned them down and overtamed them in an effort to keep them 'feminine'). Watch this clip from a 1963 performance of the group performing a medley of their hits at the legendary Apollo theatre in New York City, cultimating with their performance of "Locking Up My Heart," if you need proof.

The Marvelettes outlasted their contemporaries on the music charts and produced an impressive body of work. Not only has it documented the evolution of Motown in the Sixties, they game us some of its most enduring and underrated classics: "Don't Mess With Bill," "Too Many Fish in the Sea," "I'll Keep Holding On," "The Hunter Gets Captured By the Game," "Beechwood 4-5789," and their signature tune, "Please Mr. Postman." They also were blessed with having two of the best lead singers in the genre: Gladys Horton and Wanda Young. Now why they haven't been inducted yet in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame is anybody's guess.

Photo Credits: Motown Archives

Perhaps Martha Reeves best summarized the group's impact within Motown when she told their biographer Marc Taylor, "The Marvelettes paved the way for the Supremes...everybody. If they haven't worked, we wouldn't have worked."

So how about it? Let's see the Marvelettes inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame...where they rightfully belong!

Disclosure: I am making this video available in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This is being distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

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