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  1. #1

    LA tracks you wish were cut in Detroit!

    Inspired by one of the comments in the Least favorite Marvin thread, I thought I’d broaden on the topic of songs recorded with LA musicians that would have been better had they’d been with the Funk Brothers instead.

    One song that comes to mind is The Miracles “You Neglect Me”. Smokey cheated Pistol Allen and James Jamerson out of a stellar performance. After the job they did on Give Her Up and Baby, Baby Don’t Cry, I don’t know why he’d track what otherwise is a superb ballad with LA musicians

    Other examples include the Temptations and Supremes cover of “Funky Broadway”! Seriously? A band whose name is in the title of the song wasn’t qualified to play on it? Others that I can think of include...

    Coney Island by Martha & the Vandellas ( might of been released with the Funks)

    Don’t Stop Now by the Originals
    Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone by the Supremes
    Come Spy With Me by Smokey and the Miracles
    Several of the Four Tops songs from “Soul Spin” and “Now”

  2. I like this topic. It really has always bugged me that quite a few songs on The Miracles' "Time Out" were recorded in L.A. and those are the weakest songs on the LP. When Smokey produced "You Neglect Me" for Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, he used the Funk Brothers and it was a really good tune. I wished Smokey had just used the same track for his version.

    "Come Spy With Me" actually works pretty well, to my ears. One of those rare times when an outside production came off pretty well.

    I first heard the Supremes' version of "Shake" on the video for that Ready, Steady, Go Dusty Springfield/Motown special. The Funk Brothers played that tune like a cat playing all kinds of tricks on a defenseless mouse. I bought the Supremes' Sam Cook tribute album just because of that. When I heard all the tunes were produce with L.A. session players, it was like someone hacked the floor out from under me. It's an alright album, but I was just really expecting the Funk Brothers signature sound.

  3. Over the years I developed the feeling most at Motown took the Funk Brothers for granted. I wondered just how many of the artists really appreciated the unique sound The Funks gave their songs. Of all the artists, I think really Martha Reeves is one of the few, if not the only one who felt that special groove from those guys and had a huge amount of appreciation for what they did.

  4. #4
    Exactly. That's why I feel Martha is Motown's best ambassador. She embodies the real soul, and the sound of the place.

    To me, the 'Motown Sound' in almost every instance applied only to the recordings where the band track was recorded at Hitsville, even if the vocals were indeed recorded elsewhere.

    I've never understood why Smokey Robinson said they could get the sound anywhere.
    You can hear the difference....

    Brenda Holloway recorded many tracks, but I don't fully appreciate the majority of them because the musicians were not recorded at Hitsville. She might as well have been recording for any other label.....

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by jboy88 View Post
    Inspired by one of the comments in the Least favorite Marvin thread, I thought I’d broaden on the topic of songs recorded with LA musicians that would have been better had they’d been with the Funk Brothers instead.
    Good question JBoy: for me;

    "More Love"-Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
    "Love Is Here And Now You're Gone" & [most of] Supremes A Go-Go-The Supremes
    "Every Little Bit Hurts"-Brenda Holloway
    Last edited by Motown Eddie; 02-15-2019 at 08:26 AM.

  6. #6
    agree with Motown Eddie...

    also, I'm Ready For Love - Martha Reeves & The Vandellas

  7. #7
    As much as I love Frank Wilson's Do I Love You I wish it had been recorded in Detroit. Also, as it seems that FW was not destined to be a singer at Motown, I think the song should have been cut by the Four Tops as Levi would have killed the spoken type of phraseology of song.

    I agree, as above, regarding The Supremes A Go Go. The album would have been even better with the strong Detroit sound on those LA tracks.

    We'll Be Satisfied by Marvin and Tammi would have been stronger if cut in Detroit.

    Wonderful Baby by the Four Tops is an interesting case. The unreleased versions of the song sound like they were recorded in Detroit but the released version on the Reach Out album must have been cut at LA by the sound of it.

    Brenda Holloway deserved Detroit backing tracks!

  8. Quote Originally Posted by rovereab View Post
    Wonderful Baby by the Four Tops is an interesting case. The unreleased versions of the song sound like they were recorded in Detroit but the released version on the Reach Out album must have been cut at LA by the sound of it.


    According to DFMC: All versions of Wonderful Baby were done in Detroit. The released version was cut at Hitsville and GW studios, October 28, 1966
    ; recorded Hitsville-GW, completed 28-Oct-66; produced by Smokey Robinson, Warren Moore; [v2]
    Last edited by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance; 02-15-2019 at 10:55 AM.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post


    According to DFMC: All versions of Wonderful Baby were done in Detroit. The released version was cut at Hitsville and GW studios, October 28, 1966
    ; recorded Hitsville-GW, completed 28-Oct-66; produced by Smokey Robinson, Warren Moore; [v2]
    That's very interesting as the drums sound so different to Detroit and very much like LA, e.g. the drum rolls and fill ins.

  10. Quote Originally Posted by rovereab View Post
    That's very interesting as the drums sound so different to Detroit and very much like LA, e.g. the drum rolls and fill ins.
    I know what you mean. That one always threw me off too. It doesn't really have a characteristic Detroit sound at all, especially the drums. I don't know if Smokey was specifically trying for a different sound and working to NOT get that Detroit sound and maybe used a different drummer.

  11. Quote Originally Posted by westgrandboulevard View Post
    Exactly. That's why I feel Martha is Motown's best ambassador. She embodies the real soul, and the sound of the place.
    So true. I don't recall reading other artists really saying much specifically about the Funk Brothers.

    Quote Originally Posted by westgrandboulevard View Post
    I've never understood why Smokey Robinson said they could get the sound anywhere.
    You can hear the difference....

    Ugggg. I read that comment too and I was only 16 and knew that was utter nonsense. This may be where I first started wondering just how much the Funks were appreciated by the Motowners themselves. I'll admit, an L.A. production here and there fooled me, but for the most part, as soon as I heard something not recorded in Detroit I knew something was weird. Case in point, when I heard "Seek And You Shall Find" on the Isley Brothers "This Old Heart" album, it stuck out like a VERY sore thumb! (only later did I find it was done in N.Y.)
    Last edited by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance; 02-15-2019 at 11:31 AM.

  12. #12
    But "Seek And You Shall Find" is fabulous just as it is. Ditto "I'm Ready For Love".

    I love the sound of The Funks, but New York and L.A. can also sound great.

  13. #13
    Every Little Bit Hurts

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by rovereab View Post
    That's very interesting as the drums sound so different to Detroit and very much like LA, e.g. the drum rolls and fill ins.
    Interesting as you mention the drums and someone mentioned the Vandellas song "Im Ready For Love"...No way do those drum fills toward the end sound anything like a Funk Brothers drum pattern by any of the Detroit guys (probably Earl Palmer or Hal Blaine), and the bassline on that song (clicky with little syncopation) is something Jamerson NEVER would have played (definitely not the "Funk Machine")... Now...Wiki lists the song as having been recorded at Hitsville, however I just don't hear that track as a Funk Brothers track. My guess is that the track was cut in Los Angeles, shipped back to Detroit and the vocals done at Hitsville...It was produced by HDH...
    Last edited by StuBass1; 02-15-2019 at 02:02 PM.

  15. Quote Originally Posted by Sotosound View Post
    But "Seek And You Shall Find" is fabulous just as it is. Ditto "I'm Ready For Love".

    I love the sound of The Funks, but New York and L.A. can also sound great.
    Yeah, "Seek" is good, but when I was first listening to that album, after a steady stream of the HDH/Detroit sound, that last song sounded so DIFFERENT that it was just kind of jarring to me at the time.

  16. #16
    Interesting. I was only in my teens when I first heard it and I had no preconceptions. I just liked the sound, especially the hot trumpet. The Isleys sound, however, like the vocals were cut in Detroit, and maybe that’s all that I needed back then.

  17. #17
    Marvin's 'When I Feel The Need' and 'Love Starved Heart' are L.A cuts that I am not keen on, and think would have been much better with the Funks on them!

    Over the years, I've grown to like the L.A cut tracks a lot more (lots of unreleased cuts have of course surfaced), especially when the same core musicians are on them.

    I always like Earl Palmers drumming.

    I thought he did a great job on 'Do I Love You', 'I'm Ready for Love', and 'You've Made Me So Very Happy', to name but a few.

    Cheers

    Paul

  18. #18
    I disagree about "Love Is Here And Now You're Gone". I think HDH were trying to achieve a quasi-Beach Boys' sound, therefore LA musicians were appropriate. The Supremes' track that would have benefitted from the Funk Brothers was "In And Out of Love".

  19. #19
    144man,

    'In & Out of Love" is another L.A cut rhythm track I like.

    But I agree, it would be interesting to hear a Funk Brothers cut version of it.

    Btw, I seem to recall reading that HDH were supposed to have cut 'The Happening' in L.A initially, but were not happy with the track.

    Cheers

    Paul

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by bradburger View Post
    144man,

    'In & Out of Love" is another L.A cut rhythm track I like.

    But I agree, it would be interesting to hear a Funk Brothers cut version of it.

    Btw, I seem to recall reading that HDH were supposed to have cut 'The Happening' in L.A initially, but were not happy with the track.

    Cheers

    Paul
    Both versions of "The Happening" were cut in Detroit. I'm not sure where people got the story that the first version was done in LA.

    There is a Funk Brothers track for "In And Out Of Love" in the vaults. It was cut in the same session as "Reflections" and "The Happening."

  21. There is one song that really surprised me in that I liked the L.A. version much more than the Detroit version: "Chained" I'm ready to face the barrage of stones sure to come my way on this. Marvin Gaye's was the first version I heard and I thought it was great. Then I heard Paul Petersen's version, and it just really knocked me on my a**. The piano intro was enough to grab me but then that bass came in and Kicked The Door In. I just honestly was blown away by how much I liked it more than Marvin's. The L.A. version has a serious groove that won't let up. The horns and overall arrangement to me reminded me of Billy Preston's "Will It Go 'Round In Circles" years before he even recorded it. To this day, I'll still play Paul's version over Marvin's.

    Let the stoning begin.
    Last edited by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance; 02-16-2019 at 03:32 AM. Reason: spelling

  22. #22
    I don't have a dog in this hunt, but I will say that L.A had some seriously good musicians doing Motown sessions. However, I remember Dennis Coffey telling me, after returning to Michigan, having lived in L.A. a few years, upon doing his first Detroit horn session..."Those guys play like they mean it."

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by bradsupremes View Post
    Both versions of "The Happening" were cut in Detroit. I'm not sure where people got the story that the first version was done in LA.

    There is a Funk Brothers track for "In And Out Of Love" in the vaults. It was cut in the same session as "Reflections" and "The Happening."
    hopefully it will appear on the REFLECTIONS expanded cd. would love to hear that!

  24. #24
    i would say most of the SUPREMES A GO GO album needed the funk brothers. it came off rather bland to me.

  25. Quote Originally Posted by daviddh View Post
    i would say most of the SUPREMES A GO GO album needed the funk brothers. it came off rather bland to me.
    I got my A GO GO album in the 80s when Motown was re-releasing their albums. I heard those LA tracks and honestly thought they pulled the same thing they had done with the Motown Remembers Marvin Gaye album. I thought they had gone and replaced Funk Brother tracks with newly recorded overdubs. I only thought that because the LA tracks sounded fairly generic compared to the Detroit tracks. Then I learned all those WERE the original tracks.

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    There is one song that really surprised me in that I liked the L.A. version much more than the Detroit version: "Chained" I'm ready to face the barrage of stones sure to come my way on this. Marvin Gaye's was the first version I heard and I thought it was great. Then I heard Paul Petersen's version, and it just really knocked me on my a**. The piano intro was enough to grab me but then that bass came in and Kicked The Door In. I just honestly was blown away by how much I liked it more than Marvin's. The L.A. version has a serious groove that won't let up. The horns and overall arrangement to me reminded me of Billy Preston's "Will It Go 'Round In Circles" years before he even recorded it. To this day, I'll still play Paul's version over Marvin's.

    Let the stoning begin.
    I agree about the track for Paul Petersen’s version of “Chained” (albeit, Marvin’s version was better IMO). If this were a favorite LA thread, it would definitely make the list. As would “Forever Came Today” and “I’m Ready For Love”. The Wrecking Crew came in handy when it came to the more MOR productions.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    I like this topic. It really has always bugged me that quite a few songs on The Miracles' "Time Out" were recorded in L.A. and those are the weakest songs on the LP. When Smokey produced "You Neglect Me" for Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, he used the Funk Brothers and it was a really good tune. I wished Smokey had just used the same track for his version.

    "Come Spy With Me" actually works pretty well, to my ears. One of those rare times when an outside production came off pretty well.

    I first heard the Supremes' version of "Shake" on the video for that Ready, Steady, Go Dusty Springfield/Motown special. The Funk Brothers played that tune like a cat playing all kinds of tricks on a defenseless mouse. I bought the Supremes' Sam Cook tribute album just because of that. When I heard all the tunes were produce with L.A. session players, it was like someone hacked the floor out from under me. It's an alright album, but I was just really expecting the Funk Brothers signature sound.
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    I agree. "Come Spy With Me" is one of my favourite Miracles, and Motown cuts. I never even guessed it was recorded in L.A. It has the overall Motown Detroit sound. I didn't listen carefully to hear if I could recognise specific players, like Jamerson, Pistol, Benny, or Messina or White, or whoever, because its overall sound was quite good.
    Last edited by robb_k; 02-17-2019 at 02:40 PM.

  28. Quote Originally Posted by robb_k View Post
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    I agree. "Come Spy With Me" is one of my favourite Miracles, and Motown cuts. I never even guessed it was recorded in L.A. It has the overall Motown Detroit sound. I didn't listen carefully to hear if I could recognise specific players, like Jamerson, Pistol, Benny, or Messina or White, or whoever, because its overall sound was quite good.
    I just wish that one had a higher profile. Long time ago a station in Chicago played during their Saturday night "Dusties" program. Even better, a local station here played it yesterday amongst a LOT of forgotten and obscure Motown songs.

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