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  1. #1

    Martha on MoWest

    in her book, as the Vandellas were breaking up, Martha mentions she had the opportunity to fly out west in to meet with some band about being the vocalist (can't remember the band's name offhand). She talks about a lot of drug use going on, some really creepy crazy things, etc. obviously it didn't work out

    But i've often wondered about what might have been with her. of course everyone was always going to be in Diana's shadow. but had martha stayed and switched labels internally, what might have occurred?

    this was i think right around the time Thelma signed. Would martha maybe have been the lead choice for solo female on the label? would a more California sound have given some new life to Martha's career?

  2. #2
    Wasn’t Syreeta also on MoWest for a time?

  3. #3
    Indeed she was Luke, as was Blinky.

  4. #4
    I don't think it would have made much of a difference to Martha's solo career. MoWest turned out as a 'whatever' and, like it or not, any female singer on any Motown would indeed remain in the shadow of Diana's beauty, talent, ambition, and love from the public that continues to this day. Martha made excellent lps on other labels that I still love to listen to; we all wish they had sold better.

  5. #5
    her MCA album is incredible. so wish she'd had an opportunity to continue to develop that approach and sounds through the mid 70s.

    I do wonder if they'd have signed Thelma is Martha was on that label. and while this might be a stretch, then what if Martha had received Don't Leave Me This Way?

    i can actually hear martha doing a lot of the tracks that were featured on the Thelma greatest hits cd from the 90s. maybe not the disco ones as much but certainly the earlier stuff

    And i also could hear Martha doing the Sunshower album.

  6. #6
    Motown's music departments that were now run by Ewart Abner didn't promote any act signed to MoWest. Motown was not the label it was in the '60s. It wouldn't have worked. I think a post-Motown Martha Reeves could've been a hit had better promotion and Martha's work habits at the time had been different. Martha moved to California and got lost in the drug-heavy activity there. Had she not moved back to Detroit and became a born again Baptist, we'd be talking about Martha in past tense right now.

  7. #7
    One day, Harry Balk called me into his office. He had a proposal for me. How would I like to revive Martha's career? I remember having one meeting with Martha and then things go blank. Maybe the imminent closing of Detroit started and things fell apart. I had some good ideas though.

  8. #8
    very cool ralph!!

    remember was some of the general musical direction you were thinking?

    one thing that has always puzzled me is the difference in her tone and vocal qualities from her later motown work to MCA. by the late 60s, she was getting a little crazy with her vibrato. still rather present on Black Magic but not quite as overwhelming as some previous lps. then by MCA it seems to get less pronounced.

    i do love the more rock and roll approach in the MCA album

  9. #9
    I thought "Whole Lotta Love " by Led Zepplin had strong possibilities if I "Motowned" it up a bit.

  10. #10
    Hmm... Martha had the kind of voice to easily do rock music. But then again, after hearing Tina's cover, I can't imagine Martha singing it but it would've been interesting!

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by ralpht View Post
    I thought "Whole Lotta Love " by Led Zepplin had strong possibilities if I "Motowned" it up a bit.
    Ralph, I could hear Martha singing that and perhaps some Neil Young tunes like Bettye LaVette eventually did. Do you recall any other potential songs for Martha during that time? Martha could Rock when she wanted to.

  12. #12
    I think with that particular song, I was more interested in building a solid track for her. Marv, that is about as far as it got until....... and I just don't remember how it stopped.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by ralpht View Post
    I think with that particular song, I was more interested in building a solid track for her. Marv, that is about as far as it got until....... and I just don't remember how it stopped.
    I know it's been a while. Some days I wished that another company had replaced Motown in Detroit after they moved out West. So much greatness that was still there.

  14. #14
    Tina's vocal on Whole Lotta Love is very good...however, the dragged out Vanilla Fudge arrangement ruined that one for me. When I saw the line up of classic rock songs on side 1 of that Acid Queen LP I was very excited. when I played the LP I was extremely disappointed.....Baby Get It On w/Ike is the LPs best cut

  15. #15
    gman: I think what I had in mind for the song would have worked.

  16. #16
    Marv, for a short while there was a possibility that Motown would leave me in charge of a Detroit operation. Differences between me and the L.A. people sunk that possibility.

  17. #17
    I don't think that Martha Reeves on the MoWest label would've happened at all. Unfortunately, B.G. was ready to let Martha go at the end of her contract (after the cocaine use in '71 which led to her nervous breakdown & 10 day hospital stay).


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Ralph Terrana

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