#9 R&B, #23 Pop
The young and Marvelous Marvelettes started out with the typical pop/Brill Building Girl Group sound but matured into a groovy (yes I said groovy) Motown sound during their tenure at the label. Unlike Martha & The Vandellas and The Supremes, these young ladies would split leads between Gladys Horton (top row left) and Wanda Young (bottom row left) — both dynamos on vocals!
This group, that started out as a quintet formed to enter an Inkster, Michigan High School talent contest in 1960, is actually my favorite Motown Girl Group. Heck — even The Beatles loved them so much they covered their 1961 #1 hit “Please Mr. Postman,” (which incidentally was Motown’s first #1 song EVER!) so I am not alone in my assessment.
From the frisky “Locking Up My Heart” to the funky “Don’t Mess With Bill” these girls were awesome yet underrated and underutilized at Motown. Of course we all know why don’t we — but I better not get started on that favoritism thing because my blood pressure will sky-rocket. (LOL)
I often wonder what Motown would have been like had all of the glorious talent that was under contract had been given the chance to blossom and grow in their art like young Primettes/Supremes. I know it is not prudent to dwell in the past but I just can’t help but wonder about this on occasion. There truly must have been something in the water in Michigan that produced the talented teens.
It was very hard to narrow down a song selection from this group but I had to pick something so I went with this beautiful mid-tempo ballad composed by the late great Van McCoy. Does anyone reading remember when the Michael Evans character from TV’s “Good Times” not only sang a cover of this song in a talent show but had actually recorded it for an album that was released at about the same time? A little cross promotion going on with the actor’s singing and acting career.
More Trivia you ask?
When the Marvelettes were on tour in 1962, Florence Ballard of the Supremes, filled in for a pregnant Wanda Young.