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  1. Mickey's Monkey: The Song That Just Wouldn't Die

    Last night I was listening to The Miracles' "Come On Do The Jerk" and it occurred to me, it was a pretty darn good record. Then I thought I had recalled how this record's success may have been hampered by its predecessor, "Mickey's Monkey". I recalled where I had read it: "Motown: The Golden Years" by Bill Dahl.

    In the chapter on Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Smokey had remarked that he felt "Come On Do The Jerk" had indeed been hampered by the ongoing popularity of "Mickey's Monkey." He reflected that "Mickey's Monkey" was one of those records that just wouldn't die.

    I thought that was pretty interesting to have a hit that kept going so strong that it was overshadowing their follow-ups. Playing "Mickey" and "Do The Jerk" back to back, I can now hear the similarities between the two.

    Last edited by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance; 02-08-2020 at 07:13 PM.


  2. #3
    If I'm not mistaken, there were a few singles between MICKEY'S MONKEY and COME ON DO THE JERK. I GOTTA DANCE TO KEEP FROM CRYING and I LIKE IT LIKE THAT come to mind.

  3. Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    If I'm not mistaken, there were a few singles between MICKEY'S MONKEY and COME ON DO THE JERK. I GOTTA DANCE TO KEEP FROM CRYING and I LIKE IT LIKE THAT come to mind.
    Yes. I remember finding out that these records had been singles and being surprised. So, as a kid, I'm learning about Motown about a decade after these songs and I knew of "Mickey" but I had never heard of "Gotta Dance" or "I Like It" until I bought that 2-LP set, "Greatest Hits From The Beginning" around '79. It took even longer to find out that there was a song called "Come On Do The Jerk." Apparently, "Mickey's Monkey" was hurting sales of a few other records. Seems there were quite a few Miracles singles that didn't really bother the charts until that amazing landslide of classics: "Ooo Baby Baby", "Going To A Go Go" and "Tracks Of My Tears".

  4. #5
    Back in the 70s, my cousin gave me his copy of THE MIRACLES GREATEST HITS VOL. 2 and COME ON DO THE JERK was the song that stuck out for me.

  5. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    Last night I was listening to The Miracles' "Come On Do The Jerk" and it occurred to me, it was a pretty darn good record. Then I thought I had recalled how this record's success may have been hampered by its predecessor, "Mickey's Monkey". I recalled where I had read it: "Motown: The Golden Years" by Bill Dahl.

    In the chapter on Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Smokey had remarked that he felt "Come On Do The Jerk" had indeed been hampered by the ongoing popularity of "Mickey's Monkey." He reflected that "Mickey's Monkey" was one of those records that just wouldn't die.

    I thought that was pretty interesting to have a hit that kept going so strong that it was overshadowing their follow-ups. Playing "Mickey" and "Do The Jerk" back to back, I can now hear the similarities between the two.

    When the Miracles would perform "Mickey's Monkey" live, they would also sing the chorus to "Come On Do the Jerk" at the end of Mickey.

  6. Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    When the Miracles would perform "Mickey's Monkey" live, they would also sing the chorus to "Come On Do the Jerk" at the end of Mickey.
    Really! Aha, I knew I was hearing the similarities there in the two songs. So it seems that "Come On Do the Jerk" was one of those songs specifically designed to go backwards a few singles and use the elements that were working so well with "Mickey" to craft a newer hit.

    It's really a shame that "I Gotta Dance To Keep From Crying" and "That's What Love Is Made Of" seemed to have slipped past the public. Those two, I could wear a needle OUT on those jams!

  7. Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    Back in the 70s, my cousin gave me his copy of THE MIRACLES GREATEST HITS VOL. 2 and COME ON DO THE JERK was the song that stuck out for me.
    I heard the song my senior year of high school in the 80's on a super local (so local you could only hear it about one town away!) station that played really deep cuts. I called the station to ask about it. Yeah, that one stuck out for me too, Reese.

  8. #9
    I recently purchased a Good copy of the Mickeys Monkey CD from a second hand marketplace seller for what I feel to be an incredible price of only $20.00. What I find ironic is that Smokey Robinson who has over 4,000 copyrights, had I believe, only one song that he wrote for this album. HDH were responsible for the two hits, "Mickeys Monkey" and "I Gotta Dance To Keep From Crying".

  9. #10
    Smokey tells us that "Ooh Baby Baby" originated from him singing that at the end of another tune ..ie not a song but an allib. It got such a great reaction that he turned it into a song.."Ooo Bay Baby".
    Perhaps a similar thing happened...he would sing "Come on do the jerk" at the end of another song( Mickey) and it proved catchy..so he wrote a song for it to tie in with the dance craze.

  10. #11
    What I find most interesting about Mickey's Monkey songs on the album. Not too long ago I purchased on eBay the 1963 Motown CD [3746354392]. This includes the 11 songs on the album. Other than Mickey's Monkey and I Gotta Dance From Crying which were the only two songs that were released on a 45 none of the 9 others were ever released on a 45. A quick search of the DFTMC website indicates that the only release indicated for all of the other 9 songs was the infamous 2 All Time Great Classic Albums on 1 CD [TCDO8050TD]. I found this to be a very interesting song collection. A very worthwhile addition to any Miracles collection.
    Last edited by woodward; 02-09-2020 at 10:13 AM.

  11. #12
    Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaa...great miracles classic[both of em]i recently put[come on do the jerk]on an oldies compilation..smokey and the miracles forever...you've done the monkey you've done the twist and the mash potatoes too,the swim and the fly have all gone by and here's a brand new dance for you!!

  12. Quote Originally Posted by snakepit View Post
    Smokey tells us that "Ooh Baby Baby" originated from him singing that at the end of another tune ..ie not a song but an allib. It got such a great reaction that he turned it into a song.."Ooo Bay Baby".
    Perhaps a similar thing happened...he would sing "Come on do the jerk" at the end of another song( Mickey) and it proved catchy..so he wrote a song for it to tie in with the dance craze.
    Now that's a thought! Oddly enough, I NEVER would have guessed that Smokey, Bobby and Pete wrote this, lol!

  13. #14
    Not sure they did...I think Smokey gave credits to boost income from royalties.

  14. Quote Originally Posted by Motown4Ever518 View Post
    I recently purchased a Good copy of the Mickeys Monkey CD from a second hand marketplace seller for what I feel to be an incredible price of only $20.00. What I find ironic is that Smokey Robinson who has over 4,000 copyrights, had I believe, only one song that he wrote for this album. HDH were responsible for the two hits, "Mickeys Monkey" and "I Gotta Dance To Keep From Crying".
    I have to wonder if this was one of those times where, since HDH had the hit with "Mickey", they were pretty much assigned to do the entire album as well. Also, you'll notice this was another one of those "Motown Quick-ee" albums, much like the "Heat Wave" album; tons of covers and sparse, quickly recorded backing tracks. Like Martha & The Vandellas, The Miracles were on the road quite a bit, so in the thinking of the era, I'd guess those songs were done so that The Miracles could just come in, record a batch of songs quickly and get back out on the road.

    Now, that is all just a wild guess.

  15. Quote Originally Posted by arr&bee View Post
    Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaa...great miracles classic[both of em]i recently put[come on do the jerk]on an oldies compilation..smokey and the miracles forever...you've done the monkey you've done the twist and the mash potatoes too,the swim and the fly have all gone by and here's a brand new dance for you!!
    The Jerk seemed to be one of the most popular dances of the 60's outside of The Twist. I definitely remember that anytime we were at a gathering and someone put on a 60s song, all us teenagers would go into The Jerk. It seemed to be the ONE move that us kids of the 70s/80s seemed to associate most with the 60s (ok, well also The Swim was a pretty popular go-to move whenever a 60s song came on!)

  16. Quote Originally Posted by snakepit View Post
    Not sure they did...I think Smokey gave credits to boost income from royalties.
    Ok, now that's interesting!

  17. #18
    Re songwriting royalties, Smokey wrote that if the guys participated in a writing session with him, he would split the royalties from the songs that resulted from it, whether or not he used their specific ideas.

    This would give them more $$. Smokey also hoped it would encourage them to write more and lessen their need to earn money from touring, which at that point, Smokey had begun to tire of.

  18. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    Really! Aha, I knew I was hearing the similarities there in the two songs. So it seems that "Come On Do the Jerk" was one of those songs specifically designed to go backwards a few singles and use the elements that were working so well with "Mickey" to craft a newer hit.

    It's really a shame that "I Gotta Dance To Keep From Crying" and "That's What Love Is Made Of" seemed to have slipped past the public. Those two, I could wear a needle OUT on those jams!
    Well, the common thread was "The Monkey" and "The Jerk" were two very popular dances in the mid-60s (at least in the Detroit area), so looking back now, it made sense to run them together during a live set.

  19. #20
    Perhaps some folk here are unaware of this fantastic finale to the UK Ready, Steady, Go Motown special. Wonderful isn't it!

    https://youtu.be/A2GBs-vJOlQ

  20. Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    Re songwriting royalties, Smokey wrote that if the guys participated in a writing session with him, he would split the royalties from the songs that resulted from it, whether or not he used their specific ideas.

    This would give them more $$. Smokey also hoped it would encourage them to write more and lessen their need to earn money from touring, which at that point, Smokey had begun to tire of.
    That was really great of him. Shows he was very equitable and willing to share the glory. Also very practical in that he was trying to pave the way for the guys to continue with or without him.

  21. Quote Originally Posted by rovereab View Post
    Perhaps some folk here are unaware of this fantastic finale to the UK Ready, Steady, Go Motown special. Wonderful isn't it!

    https://youtu.be/A2GBs-vJOlQ
    Ahhhhh yes! One of the best showcases ever for sheer Motown Nirvana!

  22. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    Ahhhhh yes! One of the best showcases ever for sheer Motown Nirvana!
    So much talent in one place.

    I would envisage that just Smokey and The Miracles singing the song at one of their concerts/shows would have been fantastic too. Perhaps the overall energy of the song is what stops it from dying!

  23. #24
    Ronnie, Pete & Bobby actually did write...Ronnie even did Production work too. the popularity of "Mickeys Monkey" had NOTHING to do with "Come On Do The Jerk" not getting enough airplay to be a bigger hit. The Miracles had several releases between the 2. The Monkey was a huge dance in 63/64 and the Jerk was a huge dance 64/65. "Mickeys Monkey" was a BIG closer for Miracles LIVE shows probably until "Going to a Go Go" became such a big hit.

  24. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by snakepit View Post
    Not sure they did...I think Smokey gave credits to boost income from royalties.
    He might have but they were dividing the same royalty more ways so it wouldn’t have amounted to much

  25. #26
    For Ooh Baby Baby, Pete had told me in an interview that the background vocals were inspired by hearing Little Anthony & The Imperials intro to "I'm On The Outside Looking In" which they were doing at live shows, I'm guessing in the same way as The Miracles always went into the inspiration of "You've Really Got A Hold On Me" by adding a bit of "Bring It On Home To Me" on the live shows back then.

  26. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by tjl View Post
    For Ooh Baby Baby, Pete had told me in an interview that the background vocals were inspired by hearing Little Anthony & The Imperials intro to "I'm On The Outside Looking In" which they were doing at live shows, I'm guessing in the same way as The Miracles always went into the inspiration of "You've Really Got A Hold On Me" by adding a bit of "Bring It On Home To Me" on the live shows back then.
    I do remember hearing that about You've Really Got A Hold On Me". Thanks TJ!

  27. Quote Originally Posted by tjl View Post
    For Ooh Baby Baby, Pete had told me in an interview that the background vocals were inspired by hearing Little Anthony & The Imperials intro to "I'm On The Outside Looking In" which they were doing at live shows, I'm guessing in the same way as The Miracles always went into the inspiration of "You've Really Got A Hold On Me" by adding a bit of "Bring It On Home To Me" on the live shows back then.
    TJL! Nice to get that background from you here!

  28. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by woodward View Post
    What I find most interesting about Mickey's Monkey songs on the album. Not too long ago I purchased on eBay the 1963 Motown CD [3746354392]. This includes the 11 songs on the album. Other than Mickey's Monkey and I Gotta Dance From Crying which were the only two songs that were released on a 45 none of the 9 others were ever released on a 45. A quick search of the DFTMC website indicates that the only release indicated for all of the other 9 songs was the infamous 2 All Time Great Classic Albums on 1 CD [TCDO8050TD]. I found this to be a very interesting song collection. A very worthwhile addition to any Miracles collection.
    May be of interest that the UK compilation "I Like It Like That" on Tamla Motown TML11003 in 1965 included 7 songs from the "Mickey's Monkey" album -


    "Dance What You Wanna (MM)
    "The Wah-Watusi" (MM)
    "The Groovy Thing" (MM)
    "I Gotta Dance to Keep From Crying" (MM)
    "The Monkey Time" (MM)
    "Dancin' Holiday" (MM)
    "Twist And Shout" (MM)

  29. #30
    I disagree with Smokey's feelings about "Mickey's Monkey" overshadowing "Come On Do The Jerk". While it's a nice song, "CODTJ" sounds a little too much like "Mickey's Monkey" to be a big hit and the similarities between the two songs probably discouraged some of the DJs from playing it. Of course, Smokey & Co. would bounce back in 1965 with another run of Classics.

  30. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by rovereab View Post
    Perhaps some folk here are unaware of this fantastic finale to the UK Ready, Steady, Go Motown special. Wonderful isn't it!

    https://youtu.be/A2GBs-vJOlQ
    I have the VHS...this finale is the highlight of the entire tape....you get the feeling Motown really was a family.

  31. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by rovereab View Post
    Perhaps some folk here are unaware of this fantastic finale to the UK Ready, Steady, Go Motown special. Wonderful isn't it!

    https://youtu.be/A2GBs-vJOlQ
    Yes it is Wonderful! I grabbed the Ready Steady Go-Motown Special when it first came out in 1985 and I love the finale with "Mickey's Monkey" with all the performers (and of course, Smokey does include a few chants from "Come On Do The Jerk" during the song).

    PS: Still waiting for this show to come out on DVD or Blu-Ray.

  32. #33
    I always feel 'CODTJ' was a copy-cat record as Smokey had done years earlier with 'Got A Job'.

    I think HDH's 'Mickey's Monkey' could have been an even greater hit around the world with better lyrics. HDH weren't that great at lyrics at that time (Lovelight anyone?) but those songs had some of the greatest grooves of all time.

  33. #34
    What's wrong with lum di lum di li ?

  34. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Levi Stubbs Tears View Post
    I always feel 'CODTJ' was a copy-cat record as Smokey had done years earlier with 'Got A Job'.

    I think HDH's 'Mickey's Monkey' could have been an even greater hit around the world with better lyrics. HDH weren't that great at lyrics at that time (Lovelight anyone?) but those songs had some of the greatest grooves of all time.
    And with a dance record like "Mickey's Monkey", having a great groove was most of what was needed. Add on a winning call and response hook like 'lum-di-lum-di-li' and a great performance from Smokey & The Miracles (along with all the others who appeared on that record), and you've got a classic. I don't think that better lyrics would've made any difference in terms of worldwide sales with a record like this one.

  35. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    If I'm not mistaken, there were a few singles between MICKEY'S MONKEY and COME ON DO THE JERK. I GOTTA DANCE TO KEEP FROM CRYING and I LIKE IT LIKE THAT come to mind.
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    The Miracles had FIVE 45s released on Tamla between "MICKEY'S MONKEY" and "COME ON DO THE JERK". They all charted except the special Christmas release to promote their Christmas LP. That time gap was over a year and a half. "MICKEY'S MONKEY's" sales had already run its course, and was already only being sold as an "oldie".

    "COME ON DO THE JERK" was played the least of any Miracles' release since "Brokenhearted". I remember it being played on WVON only on the Lightest rotation for only a week, or so, and then dropped. Usually Miracles songs got the "hit treatment" from ALL R&B station DJs, (and usually from MOST Pop DJs), from the start, - just because they were superstars. MOST "White" people I knew probably never even heard that song.

  36. Quote Originally Posted by robb_k View Post
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    The Miracles had FIVE 45s released on Tamla between "MICKEY'S MONKEY" and "COME ON DO THE JERK". They all charted except the special Christmas release to promote their Christmas LP. That time gap was over a year and a half. "MICKEY'S MONKEY's" sales had already run its course, and was already only being sold as an "oldie".

    "COME ON DO THE JERK" was played the least of any Miracles' release since "Brokenhearted". I remember it being played on WVON only on the Lightest rotation for only a week, or so, and then dropped. Usually Miracles songs got the "hit treatment" from ALL R&B station DJs, (and usually from MOST Pop DJs), from the start, - just because they were superstars. MOST "White" people I knew probably never even heard that song.
    This is just the kind of contextual observation I was hoping for. I knew about the releases between "Mickey" and "Jerk" but I was of the feeling that none really ignited the charts.

    The similarities between "Mickey's Monkey" and "Come On Do The Jerk" reminded me of the situation with Motown trying to get Brenda Holloway back on track hit-wise; either Sylvia Moy or Mickey Stevenson spoke about writing "Hurt A Little Every Day" specifically to recall elements of "Every Little Bit Hurts". Since Brenda had her biggest hit with that song, they were trying to recapture that vibe. I thought it was odd to tru to recreate something that had been a hit a year or two prior.

    So could it have been the same rationale with Smokey and Co.? If the singles after "Mickey" weren't selling well maybe they felt they would do better going back to a proven formula (which, it turns out, didn't reap much in dividends.)
    Last edited by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance; 02-14-2020 at 01:08 AM.

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