Friday, June 27, 2014


In a company dominated at its start by male producers, writers and performers, Mary Wells was the first woman to burst out, and was in fact the company's biggest star from '62 to '64.  A smooth singer with far more maturity than the girl group Supremes, Wells could sing about having "two lovers and I'm not ashamed", and make it a Top Ten hit.  She became Marvin Gaye's first duet partner, and finally the company's #1 seller in 1964 with My Guy.

But all was not wells, as Berry Gordy started to favour The Supremes after they finally hit with Where Did Our Love Go.  Wells grew jealous and distrustful, and launched a suit for more earnings, and ultimately, to be released from her contract.  20th Century Fox thought she'd remain a huge star, and offered her a fortune.  It was a bad move all around, as Wells couldn't find the Motown magic elsewhere.  She became one of the company's list of casualties, which is perhaps longer than its star survivors, and died of cancer in 1992.

This set captures the Motown highlights, a very strong greatest hits, lead by Top 10 entries You Beat Me To The Punch, The One Who Really Loves You, Two Lovers, and of course, My Guy.  Like all Motowners, the secondary singles are where the magic lies now, the big ones having been overplayed on every soundtrack and TV show.  What's Easy For Two Is So Hard For One barely scraped into the Top 30, but has a classic Smokey Robinson lyric and a happy swing to it.  And Your Old Stand By has some old R n' B grit in it, not often heard from the slick Motown studios.  Although this collection is licensed to a secondary label, the sound quality is excellent, better than many other Motown collections I've heard, and at 14 cuts it fills the bill for your Wells needs.

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