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  1. #1

    Velvelettes "One Door Closes"

    This thread is really mainly to ask our Velvelettes #1 Fan, John Lester, about the Ian Levine produced Velvelettes album. I was listening to a couple of the Ian Levine videos of the Velvelettes' hits, and it struck me that these seem to be the first of the Levine productions I've heard that really sound as if they're nearly as good as the originals. Even the backgrounds don't seem to have that tedious drum machine and boring arrangements.

    So I am curious, if you've heard the album, is it worth seeking out? I liked a few things that Levine did on the Marvelettes, but even those weren't really worthy of the girls. Just wondering if he might have struck gold with his album on the Velvelettes.

  2. #2
    I was around when they were putting these projects together. I remember when Ian Levine came to Detroit. I met him. Songs that were recorded and produced on Martha & the Vandellas, the Velvelettes, the Marvelettes were not bad at all.

  3. #3
    Well, John would be the expert....but, I own it and I really like it....a lot. I had the LP transferred onto CD as I no longer have a turn table.

  4. #4
    The Velvelettes album was good whereas anything he did with The Marvelettes made me cringe.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by daviddesper View Post
    The Velvelettes album was good whereas anything he did with The Marvelettes made me cringe.
    I agree 100%!

    I will just add that The Velvelettes ONE DOOR CLOSES from Motorcity (10 tracks) was available both as an LP and CD. They has an additional track, “Better Late Than Never” on several Motorcity various artists compilations. It’s also on YouTube!
    Last edited by longtimefan; 01-14-2018 at 01:21 PM.

  6. #6

  7. #7
    Thanks all for the opinions! Wow, some well deserved recognition for the Velvelettes at the time. This had to be before they even had their "best of" CD come out. Much of what Levine produced to me is essentially unlistenable, but this one definitely sounds worth checking out. And if you can judge by the few YT videos available, their voices have held up beautifully and seem only slightly different from their glory days.

    @Marv, I wasn't even aware Levine had recorded some on the Vandellas. I'll have to find some of that material to listen to.

    Thanks again!

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    Thanks all for the opinions! Wow, some well deserved recognition for the Velvelettes at the time. This had to be before they even had their "best of" CD come out. Much of what Levine produced to me is essentially unlistenable, but this one definitely sounds worth checking out. And if you can judge by the few YT videos available, their voices have held up beautifully and seem only slightly different from their glory days.

    @Marv, I wasn't even aware Levine had recorded some on the Vandellas. I'll have to find some of that material to listen to.

    Thanks again!
    I know I shouldn't do this because this thread is about the Velvelettes (who I love!) but here is one track Ian did with the Vandellas that I thought was nice:


  9. #9
    The Velvelettes 12” Singles at Motorcity. I remember feeling that it seemed that Motorcity was very interested in The Velvelettes.

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    Last edited by longtimefan; 01-15-2018 at 01:36 AM.

  10. #10
    I do like some of that Motorcity stuff quite a lot. Credit has to be given to Ian Levine for the whole project as he was able bring us recordings again from many artists from the history of Motown. Not only that we were able to see many of the artists sing live for the first time (in my case). I think Motown history would be a bit poorer without the Motorcity project. The Fantastic Four's "Sidestepping" is one of my faves from that period.

    The Velvelettes recordings then were good because the group still had it. Cal is an excellent singer and all the girls looked amazing in those videos. Again, thanks are due for making them available on YouTube. I'm less sure that The Marvelettes still had what it took by then - not surprising if their recordings don't stand up as well.

    On the down side those electronique and overlong intros aren't always to my taste and that drum sound (which could have been added later) is very irritating. Some tracks are not great but I can forgive all of that for what was achieved in that period which allowed those with talent (be it singing, performing or song-writing) to flourish again when they may have been overlooked somewhat by Motown back in the day.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    I know I shouldn't do this because this thread is about the Velvelettes (who I love!) but here is one track Ian did with the Vandellas that I thought was nice:

    Her voice is great there, and it is a pleasant song. I recognize Rosalind but who is the other Vandella?

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    Her voice is great there, and it is a pleasant song. I recognize Rosalind but who is the other Vandella?
    That's Annette, Kenneth.

  13. #13
    I did like that song by Martha and also I once heard a Motorcity version of Chris Clark's "From Head to Toe" that sounded quite good.

  14. #14
    Some of Bettye Lavette's Motorcity material is good as well.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by johnny_raven View Post
    That's Annette, Kenneth.
    Thanks Johnny!

  16. #16
    I have a number of Ian's productions which I really like...warts and all:
    Carolyn Crawford
    Pat Lewis
    Hattie Littles
    France Nero
    Betty Lavette
    The Velvelettes
    Jean, Scherrie and Lynda
    He recorded Mary Wells, but, this was about the time she was diagnosed
    with throat cancer and Mary wasn't at her best.
    I also like the Marvelettes CD's, though, the releases with Gladys
    as the only original are the best. Wanda was down to about a whisper by
    then. These aren't everyone's cup of tea....but, what I have I enjoy. I know
    he worked with the Andantes and I have a CD someone made for me of
    Three Ounces of Love he may have done?
    Last edited by lakeside; 01-15-2018 at 12:55 PM.

  17. #17
    Like the tracks he recorded on the legends or not....you have to admit, he went all out.
    He didn't stop at 1 or 2 artists, the Motorcity project was envisioned as a "whole" after a few of the Nighmare label issues got some attention. It appears he made every effort
    to find everyone alive, and even gave those barely capable but still somewhat able a chance to record again. if you read trough the youtube threads that accompany his videos, there are a ton of interesting comments. Several of the artists became difficult to work with, and it was a huge expense to coordinate/transport/record. So that's got to be factored into the studio resources budget. The Velvelettes were noted as one of the most still very competent and easiest acts to work with. And they were willing to
    do promo and work. The LP is a extremely listenable one. In retrospect, I like much of
    Ian's work more today than I did when I first got it. I guess I had to get used to and over the "man, this is nothing like the original" feeling. And many of the newly written
    songs are good. Frankie Gaye & Johnny Bristol did some nice tracks there too. It seems there was public interest and support in Ian's project, but getting the nostalgia acts newer tracks moved from club DJ turntables to radio for the broad range comeback wasn't happening.
    Last edited by gman; 01-15-2018 at 02:10 PM.

  18. #18
    He did record just about everyone.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    This thread is really mainly to ask our Velvelettes #1 Fan, John Lester, about the Ian Levine produced Velvelettes album. I was listening to a couple of the Ian Levine videos of the Velvelettes' hits, and it struck me that these seem to be the first of the Levine productions I've heard that really sound as if they're nearly as good as the originals. Even the backgrounds don't seem to have that tedious drum machine and boring arrangements.

    So I am curious, if you've heard the album, is it worth seeking out? I liked a few things that Levine did on the Marvelettes, but even those weren't really worthy of the girls. Just wondering if he might have struck gold with his album on the Velvelettes.
    Hi Kenneth

    You know I really am the wrong person to ask whether to buy it. Of course, I am going to say YES definitely.

    I highly rate the original songs and I would have prefered that Ian left the hits alone. I really wasn't convinced that he improved on the original versions and, in any case, I didn't feel that they needed it.

    I have to say that the artwork on all of the 12" singles was wonderful. In fact, so wonderful, I had to search for mint sleeves for Norma so that she could display them on her wall. :-)

    When I look back at the vast output from Motorcity from all the artists, I thought the Velvelettes did better than most. But then I am biased!

    It's not often I am invited to talk about the Velvelettes...normally I have to impose myself on everone. So thank you Kenneth for allowing me to talk about the ladies.

    And as a final note..the ladies are to perform in the UK at Whitby and Nottingham on September 14 and 15. See you there! :-)

  20. #20
    @boyfromxtown, Thanks John! As I've said before, I imagine it was hard to be a Velvelettes fan seeing as how they were given such short shrift by Motown back in the day. I very much appreciate your perspective and everyone's opinion on the Motorcity album. I will definitely seek it out. Their voices and Levine produced performances of their classic hits are stunning, and it's so fantastic that their God given talents were nurtured and cared for all these years. I feel the same way about Scherrie and Susaye. Their talent remains true to form and you can hardly tell a difference in their voices between then and now. I think it was true of Gladys Horton as well, though unfortunately not Wanda Rogers, as her personal demons truly ruined her beautiful voice.

    Thank you again! I wish I could be there for that concert but I will watch to see if they appear in the Los Angeles area anytime soon.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    @boyfromxtown, Thanks John! As I've said before, I imagine it was hard to be a Velvelettes fan seeing as how they were given such short shrift by Motown back in the day. I very much appreciate your perspective and everyone's opinion on the Motorcity album. I will definitely seek it out. Their voices and Levine produced performances of their classic hits are stunning, and it's so fantastic that their God given talents were nurtured and cared for all these years. I feel the same way about Scherrie and Susaye. Their talent remains true to form and you can hardly tell a difference in their voices between then and now. I think it was true of Gladys Horton as well, though unfortunately not Wanda Rogers, as her personal demons truly ruined her beautiful voice.

    Thank you again! I wish I could be there for that concert but I will watch to see if they appear in the Los Angeles area anytime soon.
    Request that they appear at your local venue. If you have any problems getting in touch with them. You can message me here.

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