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  1. #1

    Missed Opportunities with the Marvelettes

    I especially love Gladys' voice. and i like Wanda's a lot too, aside from when she gets too much into her head voice.

    the Pink Album is just an amazing collection. really not a bad track on it. Here I Am is also very strong.

    what do you think are some of the missed opportunities with the group?

    I think Strange I Know was a little too "strange" to be a hit single. After Beechwood they should have issued Locking Up My Heart and NOT done a double sided single. Forever should have been saved as an A side to follow up Locking

    And after Magician, they probably should have gone with Destination Anywhere. I like Here I Am - it's funky cool. But that smokey sound was getting a bit old

    What others songs should have been released? or what other missteps?

  2. #2
    IMO, the single that should have been a major hit was THAT'S HOW HEARTACHES ARE MADE. I just think it is a perfect single in every way. But knowing the turmoil behind the scenes, I can see why the company might not have gotten behind it.

    I particularly think that the SOPHISTICATED SOUL album was very strong, with not a dud track on it. REACHING FOR SOMETHING I CAN'T HAVE might have made a nice US single.

    Re missteps, I have to say I find the final album,THE RETURN OF THE MARVELETTES, to be less than satisfying. There are some good songs on it. But IMO, there are too many remakes. Plus I think Wanda uses her falsetto too much.

  3. #3
    Destination Anywhere was released as a single..it peaked at #63..

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    What others songs should have been released? or what other missteps?
    "Knock On My Door" should've been released. It's a fantastic song with a brilliant performance from The Marvelettes (along with The Andantes) and a musical bridge from the "girl group" sound of their first singles into the emerging Motown Sound. I'm sure it would've been a smash if it had come out in 1963.

  5. #5
    "Reachin' For Something I Can't Have" was a single in the UK, I believe.

    My favorite song from that album is "The Stranger," which I posted a thread about a while ago. A very dark, brooding song about a one night stand isn't something you'd find often on a Motown record. It might have been too downbeat for a hit single, but it has a great vocal by Wanda, and the Marvelettes are definitely on this record in the background though I think augmented by the Andantes. It definitely deserved a better fate than being buried near the end of Side 2!

  6. #6
    I think He Was Really Sayin' Something from the pink album could have been a cross-over hit. I know the Velvelettes' original, but the Marvelettes version is more updated and contemporary mid-Sixties Motown.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jimi LaLumia View Post
    Destination Anywhere was released as a single..it peaked at #63..
    yeah i was meaning it should have followed Magician as single 2 from the lp. not #3. by then the interest in the album was waning

  8. #8
    I think this unreleased GEM should have been released in '64 before Too Many Fish In The Sea.


  9. #9
    yeah Return is not the most satisfying album. we know that it was supposed to be a solo set for Wanda but to have her "launch" a solo career by doing all covers of other songs doesn't seem to be the most inspired approach.

    I think That's How Heartaches is a pretty song but a bit too morose for pop radio. it's just too slow and sing-song.

    I'm a bit surprised they released I'm Gonna Hold On. i like the song and think it's exciting. Ann's voice is a totally new sound for the group so that seems a bit odd that they'd release that. unless they wanted to try and do another dual lead singer set up like when Gladys was there. but the sound was so totally different from anything the girls had recorded recently. maybe this was just too different and out in left field

  10. #10
    One Last Kiss (Before You Leave Me) should have been the follow up single to Don't Mess With Bill.

  11. #11
    I think "Poor Little Rich Girl" would have been a great single for the summer of 1966. I like "In Full Bloom," but some of the older tracks sound out of place. I would have included "Love Is Good," "I Can't Wait Till Summer Comes," and "Breakthru (I've Got My Freedom)" to keep the album more consistent in terms of sound.

  12. #12
    A missed opportunity to me was that last album, "The Return of the Marvelettes". They should have pulled out all the stops for that one. They should have had the actual Marvelettes sing on the tracks and appear on the album cover. They should have only used original songs written specifically for them and that album. Had this occurred, I am confident the Marvelettes would have continued on well into the 70s.

  13. Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    IMO, the single that should have been a major hit was THAT'S HOW HEARTACHES ARE MADE. I just think it is a perfect single in every way. But knowing the turmoil behind the scenes, I can see why the company might not have gotten behind it.

    I particularly think that the SOPHISTICATED SOUL album was very strong, with not a dud track on it. REACHING FOR SOMETHING I CAN'T HAVE might have made a nice US single.

    Re missteps, I have to say I find the final album,THE RETURN OF THE MARVELETTES, to be less than satisfying. There are some good songs on it. But IMO, there are too many remakes. Plus I think Wanda uses her falsetto too much.
    Not a single thing I disagree with, especially about the "Return" album. I bought it and was eager to hear what Smokey would do, thinking about "Magician" and "Hunter". I wasn't knocked out at all. For one thing, I kept comparing Wanda's performances with these songs to what she did on "The Pink Album" and found something missing. Yes, one of the things I couldn't get into was the extensive use of her falsetto. It seems the producers on "The Pink Album" made a definite choice to record those tunes in a key that allowed Wanda and Gladys to sing in as much their natural voices as possible and trust that their performances were strong enough to not need excessive production with the music.

    "Return", for me was the Motown of the 70s and that sound just doesn't really thrill me. I do like "Breathtaking Guy" but it seemed to be trying a bit too hard. However, there are two songs that I do really enjoy: "Fading Away" and "I'll Be In Trouble". I like those the most maybe because, even with Wanda singing in that falsetto, she sounded like she must have been having the time of her life singing those tunes. She really let loose on those tune without losing the basic groove of either. "Fading Away" is the most fun to listen to with all of Wanda's "wooooos" and "oh yeahs!" all over the place. I think she really felt that one.

  14. Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    "Knock On My Door" should've been released. It's a fantastic song with a brilliant performance from The Marvelettes (along with The Andantes) and a musical bridge from the "girl group" sound of their first singles into the emerging Motown Sound. I'm sure it would've been a smash if it had come out in 1963.
    It puzzles me too why that one would have been left in the can while stuff like "He's A Good Guy" and "As Long As I Know He's Mine" were released. I like both songs, but they only make it because of the Marvelettes. Its a bit like when Billie Holliday was given poor songs to record but she made them worth listening to by the sheer presence of her vocal performance. "Knock On My Door" was fantastic by comparison.

  15. Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    "Reachin' For Something I Can't Have" was a single in the UK, I believe.

    My favorite song from that album is "The Stranger," which I posted a thread about a while ago. A very dark, brooding song about a one night stand isn't something you'd find often on a Motown record. It might have been too downbeat for a hit single, but it has a great vocal by Wanda, and the Marvelettes are definitely on this record in the background though I think augmented by the Andantes. It definitely deserved a better fate than being buried near the end of Side 2!
    "The Stranger" really threw me for a loop when I heard it! I love the rawness of soulfulness of it. Ivy Hunter really did some fantastic work with the group. I think he was always trying to do something new and fresh with them. I love the very relaxed vocals of Katherine and Ann on this one too. Sassy and with that great "Girl Talk" vibe.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    It puzzles me too why that one would have been left in the can while stuff like "He's A Good Guy" and "As Long As I Know He's Mine" were released. I like both songs, but they only make it because of the Marvelettes. Its a bit like when Billie Holliday was given poor songs to record but she made them worth listening to by the sheer presence of her vocal performance. "Knock On My Door" was fantastic by comparison.
    agree...He's A Good Guy, My Daddy Knows Best, ruin the enjoyment of the complete side for me on the vinyl Anthology..As Long As I Know doesn't faze me either way. I like Strange I Know...the mix on the vinyl Anthology LP is better than the over echo one on Compact Command Performances CD

    both Brenda Lee and Connie Francis chart peaks suffered from split airplay on many singles in the early/ mid 60's..both achieved double top 10's once..Connie with Frankie/Lipstick on Your Collar in '59 and Brenda with I'm Sorry / That's All You Gotta Do in '60... they usually wound up with both sides in the top 50...but split airplay most likely sacrificed 1 bigger hit.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    a missed opportunity to me was that last album, "the return of the marvelettes". They should have pulled out all the stops for that one. They should have had the actual marvelettes sing on the tracks and appear on the album cover. They should have only used original songs written specifically for them and that album. Had this occurred, i am confident the marvelettes would have continued on well into the 70s.
    yeah...and the original horses too!

  18. #18
    The unreleased "Dance a While, Cry a While" could've been a great single. Later on "The Truth's Outside My Door" I'd have liked on 45.

  19. #19
    For me, a missed opportunity for both Motown AND The Marvelettes was the unreleased "Love Is Good" from the Wanda, Katherine, and Gladys era. For those who have never heard it or may have simply forgotten it:

    https://youtu.be/NbCNDivKXIA

  20. #20
    Does anyone know when the Marvelettes final performance was? Was there ever a "farewell" tour or?

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by marybrewster View Post
    Does anyone know when the Marvelettes final performance was? Was there ever a "farewell" tour or?
    I've asked that question before and never got a definitive answer. There was no "farewell" tour of any sort. It seems like they just stopped performing (and recording) without any fanfare or official announcement.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by SatansBlues View Post
    I've asked that question before and never got a definitive answer. There was no "farewell" tour of any sort. It seems like they just stopped performing (and recording) without any fanfare or official announcement.
    And from the looks of it, that's just what happened with The Marvelettes. As Wanda's personal problems were getting out of hand, tensions were running high between her & Katherine. With Motown offering no help in these matters, they just decided to let The Marvelettes go (only using the group's name to help sell the final LP Return of The Marvelettes). And we can't forget the tragic death of Wanda's Sister at her home in Inkster.

  23. #23
    I think a 'missed opportunity' with The Marvelettes is the lack of an album by the group between 1963 & 1966. Motown could've put together a great LP by them featuring "Too Many Fish In The Sea", "I'll Keep Holding On" & "Danger Heartbreak Dead Ahead" with some of the songs that wound up in the vaults like "I Should've Known Better", "There Is No Tomorrow (Only Tears And Sorrow)" & "Little Girls Grow Up".

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    And from the looks of it, that's just what happened with The Marvelettes. As Wanda's personal problems were getting out of hand, tensions were running high between her & Katherine. With Motown offering no help in these matters, they just decided to let The Marvelettes go (only using the group's name to help sell the final LP Return of The Marvelettes). And we can't forget the tragic death of Wanda's Sister at her home in Inkster.
    Also didn't Wanda and Bobby have a new baby during this period? On the cover of the Miracles 1970 A Season For Miracle's album, Wanda is pictured holding a little baby, which is just assumed was her's and Bobby's.

  25. #25
    SatansBlues, I was delighted to see that you mentioned Just One More Kiss (Before You Leave Me). While there were several exciting revelations on Disc Four of the second Marvelettes' Complete albums boxed set, suggesting what might have been, this one is a real standout, with often haunting lead vocal phrases and a classic Motown sound.

    I also enjoy I'll Keep On Holding On, which I heard only when the anthology LPs were issued; it seemed like it should have been a big hit, but perhaps Motown pushed others' releases instead; in fact, I don't recall hearing any Marvelettes' songs on the radio between Playboy or Beechwood 4-5789 and Don't Mess With Bill and it was a huge, nice surprise when suddenly they reemerged with a mature contemporary sound.

    The Stranger, too, seems like it could have been a hit.

    I regret that Tonight Was Made For Love was not issued in stereo as it was a highlight of the pink album, along with When You're Young & In Love and several others.

    I was grateful to hear After All for the first time on Return Of The Marvelettes, having read years earlier that it was the first song Diana Ross & The Supremes recorded at Motown. Fading Away was the best cover of a familiar song, and So I Can Love You and That's How Heartaches Are Made were great new-to-me songs. All of these songs and most others released after Don't Mess With Bill seemed relevant, consistent with Motown's evolution, appropriate for older singers than those who pleaded with the postman and relatable for me as I came of age.

    While I cannot see a possibility that The Marvelettes could have reached the status of The Temptations or The Four Tops, for instance, lacking versatility and strong harmony, they (or Wanda, as a solo artist) could have had a longer, stronger string of hits had they had the crucial individual drive and the focused, committed coaching of Motown and certain of its writers/producers. Too, the group could have flourished with a concentrated effort to fashion a more polished, professional stage act.

  26. #26
    Considering the flash in the pan nature of many of today's so-called "singers," The Marvelettes actually had a pretty lengthy career. But you are right, they were kept in the shadows while others were thrust in to the spotlight.

  27. #27
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    Motown missed chances for hits with the following unreleased recordings: "I Should Have Known Better" (1964), "Knock On My Door" (1964), "Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers" (1963). They also should have released a couple albums in 1964 and 1965, plus they should have pushed "That's How Heartaches Are Made" a lot more.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by SatansBlues View Post
    Also didn't Wanda and Bobby have a new baby during this period? On the cover of the Miracles 1970 A Season For Miracle's album, Wanda is pictured holding a little baby, which is just assumed was her's and Bobby's.
    Yes: Wanda & Bobby Rogers did have a baby during that time. They had a son (Robert Rogers III) and a daughter Bobbae together and divorced in 1975 after twelve years of marriage.

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    Yes: Wanda & Bobby Rogers did have a baby during that time. They had a son (Robert Rogers III) and a daughter Bobbae together and divorced in 1975 after twelve years of marriage.
    I wonder what ever happened to the children of Wanda and Bobby? And didn't Wanda also have a child in the early days of the group, like around 62/63, where Florence Ballard actually filled in for her on tour?

  30. Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    I think a 'missed opportunity' with The Marvelettes is the lack of an album by the group between 1963 & 1966. Motown could've put together a great LP by them featuring "Too Many Fish In The Sea", "I'll Keep Holding On" & "Danger Heartbreak Dead Ahead" with some of the songs that wound up in the vaults like "I Should've Known Better", "There Is No Tomorrow (Only Tears And Sorrow)" & "Little Girls Grow Up".
    I've wondered about that lack of an album for some years and I think Motown felt there was little percentage in drafting an album without a strong single to propel sales. "He's A Good Guy", "You're My Remedy" didn't do so well. "Too Many Fish" may have been a good hit but again not strong enough to spur sales.

    The Marvelettes weren't the only ones who didn't get an album in '64. The Miracles too seemed to have hit a slump for awhile; there was an album that was put out, "I Like It Like That", but then withdrawn in the U.S. Marvin Gaye and even Martha & The Vandellas didn't get an LP in '64. I think Motown put all its money behind Brenda Holloway's album to capitalize on "Every Little Bit Hurts" and of course the Supremes, Four Tops and Tempts really broke out that year.

    Motown had planned a Marvelettes Greatest Hits album for '64. Its catalog number would have placed it between Marvin Gaye's Greatest Hits and Stevie Wonder At The Beach. I think it was actually a shrewd move that the album was "resurrected" in '66 using "Don't Mess With Bill" as the anchor. That was pretty much a sure bet for a best-selling album, capitalizing on the "rebirth" of the group.

  31. Quote Originally Posted by robb_k View Post
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    Motown missed chances for hits with the following unreleased recordings: "I Should Have Known Better" (1964), "Knock On My Door" (1964), "Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers" (1963). They also should have released a couple albums in 1964 and 1965, plus they should have pushed "That's How Heartaches Are Made" a lot more.
    When I heard "Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers" I honestly thought this was the song that linked The Marvelettes to "Where Did Our Love Go" Not that it sounded like "Where", but it was that fully-formed HDH sound kicked off by the song that was supposed to have gone to the Marvs. Same key, footsteps clomping in the background, ringing vibraphones.

  32. Quote Originally Posted by Philles/Motown Gary View Post
    For me, a missed opportunity for both Motown AND The Marvelettes was the unreleased "Love Is Good" from the Wanda, Katherine, and Gladys era. For those who have never heard it or may have simply forgotten it:

    https://youtu.be/NbCNDivKXIA
    Ohhhhh Weeeeeeee Baby! Wanda is TEARING that song up one side and down the other. I love her "freeform" way with this song. When Wanda was feeling a song, I love how she seems to sing however and wherever the spirit moves her. Sometimes she'd come in just a bit behind the beat, creating her own sense of rhythm. Even her falsetto sounds good here.

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    Ohhhhh Weeeeeeee Baby! Wanda is TEARING that song up one side and down the other. I love her "freeform" way with this song. When Wanda was feeling a song, I love how she seems to sing however and wherever the spirit moves her. Sometimes she'd come in just a bit behind the beat, creating her own sense of rhythm. Even her falsetto sounds good here.
    Yeah, Waiting, there are several elements in that record bursting with Motown joy, and Wanda was one of them. And so were The Andantes. Those ooohs-and-aaahs harmonies just blow me away! Cal Gill of The Velvelettes also laid her lead vocal over the same instrumental/back-up vocal track with equally impressive results. If I had heard either version on the radio back in the day, I would have instantly recognized it as Motown, and it would have driven me crazy until I had a copy of that record in my hands!
    Last edited by Philles/Motown Gary; 12-13-2019 at 02:32 PM.

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    I've wondered about that lack of an album for some years and I think Motown felt there was little percentage in drafting an album without a strong single to propel sales. "He's A Good Guy", "You're My Remedy" didn't do so well. "Too Many Fish" may have been a good hit but again not strong enough to spur sales.
    One thing about that: neither In Full Bloom or The Return Of The Marvelettes had any big hits to spur album sales (and Return even duplicated 2 songs from In Full Bloom). And 1963's Marvelous Marvelettes had only 3 modest hits with "Strange I Know", "Locking Up My Heart" & "My Daddy Knows Best". So I say that Motown could've built an LP around "Too Many Fish In The Sea" (which according to Billboard, charted higher than any of the other songs I've mentioned).

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    Marvin Gaye and even Martha & The Vandellas didn't get an LP in '64. I think Motown put all its money behind Brenda Holloway's album to capitalize on "Every Little Bit Hurts" and of course the Supremes, Four Tops and Tempts really broke out that year.
    Marvin Gaye had four albums in 1964-Together (with Mary Wells), When I'm Alone I Cry, Hello Broadway & Greatest Hits. I do agree that Motown had put most of it's resources behind The Supremes, The Temptations & Four Tops at that time since 1964 was the breakout year for all three of them. And while Martha & The Vandellas did not have an LP released in 1964, they did get the Dance Party album out the following year.
    Last edited by Motown Eddie; 12-13-2019 at 10:23 AM.

  36. #36
    One more missed opportunity with The Marvelettes is their final single, "A Breath Taking Guy". Released in January 1972, just over a year after the Return Of The Marvelettes LP, this was a really forgotten release. The single should've come out either before, simultaneously or just after the album's issue in late 1970 in order to build interest in the album.

  37. #37
    their biggest missed opportunity was walking away from WDOLG ..not tops that!

  38. #38
    Finders, Keepers was definitely a missed opportunity! I think it would have been a hit in 1964, maybe as a followup to Too Many Fish.

  39. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    One more missed opportunity with The Marvelettes is their final single, "A Breath Taking Guy". Released in January 1972, just over a year after the Return Of The Marvelettes LP, this was a really forgotten release. The single should've come out either before, simultaneously or just after the album's issue in late 1970 in order to build interest in the album.
    "Marionette" also should have had greater success as a single.

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