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  1. #1

    What If the Marvelettes HIT in 1970/71?

    THE RETURN OF THE MARVELETTES was anything but; basically a vehicle for Wanda.

    Although "Marionette" and "A Breath Taking Guy" weren't the strongest of their catalog, what do you suppose would have happened if one of those singles hit big? By this time Katherine and Ann were no longer with the group, or at least no longer interested being in the group, Kat especially.

    Would Wanda have recorded a follow up? Would she have reformed the group with two new Marvelettes?

    Of course it's "what if", but.....what if?

  2. #2
    I think they would have found two girls to accompany Wanda on the road. Ann had joined the New Birth by then and I doubt Kat would have returned otherwise.

  3. #3
    After reading the book on the Marvelettes, it doesn't seem like Wanda was in any shape to pursue further opportunities at that point. I'm actually surprised that the album was recorded in the first place.

    That said, if one of those two singles had hit, as jboy88 says, maybe they would have gotten two new girls to perform with Wanda. Or maybe they would just keep releasing singles with no promotional appearances until interest waned.
    Last edited by reese; 03-08-2021 at 12:42 PM.

  4. #4
    Such a big 'what if' and as I said before the Marvelettes are 'my girls'. 'Our Lips Just Seem To Rhyme Every Time' was the only new song on the album and should have been the 1st single & 'Marionette' the 2nd as both are very strong songs. Wanda was on a massive downward spiral health wise plus she was pregnant so as she could not help promote it Motown lost all interest in the project. If circumstances had been different and the album had produced a hit single Motown would have possibly tried to persuade Wanda to make a few appearances with 'Fanny' & 'Annie'. I love the album which actually made #50 on BB R&B Albums chart but I too was surprised that it was ever made.

  5. #5
    pretty much everything about this project seemed outdated. to go and do an album of "reintretations" of old motown songs just wasn't a strong contemporary idea. The name also was rather outdated by this time. None of the songs that were included were all that exciting to begin with

    if you compare this album to other contemporary work, there's just nothing really relevant about it.

  6. #6
    I've always thought that the last two albums by the group were seen as a favor to Bobby Rogers for his wife. I would imagine that the friendship between Smokey and Bobby had a lot of influence in those records being made. In much the same way that Marvin Gaye's marriage to Anna Gordy provide him with some corporate advantages that other artists never received.

  7. #7
    Didn't "In Full Bloom" have 5 or 6 singles released from it? It appears that the pressure was on to get a hit any way possible. "Magician" fared better than the rest, but was hardly the smash they needed.

    Didn't the Marvelettes stop touring around this time as well?

  8. #8
    "In Full Bloom" was a great album but "Magician" wasn't on it.

    Only one single was released from the album "That's How Heartaches Are Made" / "Rainy Mourning"

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by marybrewster View Post
    Didn't "In Full Bloom" have 5 or 6 singles released from it? It appears that the pressure was on to get a hit any way possible. "Magician" fared better than the rest, but was hardly the smash they needed.

    Didn't the Marvelettes stop touring around this time as well?
    You're thinking of SOPHISTICATED SOUL, which had five singles.

  10. #10
    My opinion is that Motown would've washed their hands of The Marvelettes anyway even if "A Breath Taking Guy" had become a hit. After all, the label released the song as a single several months after releasing The Return of The Marvelettes LP. Also, the length of time between the final Marvelettes LPs & singles clearly shows they were no longer a priority for Motown [[sadly).

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    My opinion is that Motown would've washed their hands of The Marvelettes anyway even if "A Breath Taking Guy" had become a hit. After all, the label released the song as a single several months after releasing The Return of The Marvelettes LP. Also, the length of time between the final Marvelettes LPs & singles clearly shows they were no longer a priority for Motown [[sadly).
    For me personally Ann Bogan should be the right lead singer for the marvelettes for The Return and the Start into the 70s

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Fullfillingnessfirstfinale View Post
    For me personally Ann Bogan should be the right lead singer for the marvelettes for The Return and the Start into the 70s
    A breathtaking guy and Ill be in trouble could be hits at this time, it was a wrong desicion to give Wanda the priority as the lead singer, imho

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    My opinion is that Motown would've washed their hands of The Marvelettes anyway even if "A Breath Taking Guy" had become a hit. After all, the label released the song as a single several months after releasing The Return of The Marvelettes LP. Also, the length of time between the final Marvelettes LPs & singles clearly shows they were no longer a priority for Motown [[sadly).
    I think the releases were all just a part of their recording contract where Motown was obligated to release a certain number of singles and albums on the group each year until their contract ended.

  14. #14
    I’m sure everyone knows by now that Wanda Rogers is my favorite Motown singer. I love the album. And I think the song “marionette” is one of Smokey’s best in terms of sly, ironic lyrics, and I love the arrangement with the Ricky Tikki Tikki sound in the background that makes you think of a marionette dancing.


    It’s unfortunate that Wanda was in such personal turmoil because I don’t think she ever sounded better than on the last two Marvelettes albums.

    I like the idea that they used songs that had been recorded elsewhere or were non-hits or just buried in someone’s catalog somewhere. That’s what they used to call “trunk songs“ in musicals, when they would pull out a song that had been used somewhere else or deleted from an earlier show and adapted to something else. It’s kind of an old showbiz tradition I think. I think of it in the same vein as when Smokey would discover what he called the “sleeping giants“ in different groups, which is how he thought of Wanda, and gave them exposure and placed them out front to get a different vibe and delivery.


    I even love the cover, in spite of the fact that of course it isn’t The Marvelettes. But I think it’s a great concept and it’s one of my very favorite albums of all time.
    Last edited by kenneth; 03-08-2021 at 05:37 PM.

  15. #15
    Wanda was the lead singer on 'Return' because she was the only Marvelette present! 'In Full Bloom' is my fav Motown album, every track a gem. By that time they really only existed in name and never promoted 'Bloom'. All but two of the tracks were originals. 'Heartaches' made #97 then it was really all over despite so many other strong songs which could have been singles

  16. #16
    "Heartaches" was/is a very strong version amd it's a shame it didn't fare better. "The Truth's Outside My Door" and "Now Is The Time For Love" are excellent too. They must have liked "Uptown" cos it featured on 2 albums but I wish they hadn't bothered as I can't see past The Crystals with that song.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Fullfillingnessfirstfinale View Post
    For me personally Ann Bogan should be the right lead singer for the marvelettes for The Return and the Start into the 70‘s
    While I agree that Ann Bogan should have gotten more leads, that wasn’t an option for “the Return...” album. It was initially produced as a solo album for Wanda Young. But the powers that be thought it would sell better as a Marvellettes LP. Hence, the inclusion of “Uptown” & “Heartaches” from the previous album, albeit, with an alternate mix.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by copley View Post
    Such a big 'what if' and as I said before the Marvelettes are 'my girls'. 'Our Lips Just Seem To Rhyme Every Time' was the only new song on the album and should have been the 1st single & 'Marionette' the 2nd as both are very strong songs. Wanda was on a massive downward spiral health wise plus she was pregnant so as she could not help promote it Motown lost all interest in the project. If circumstances had been different and the album had produced a hit single Motown would have possibly tried to persuade Wanda to make a few appearances with 'Fanny' & 'Annie'. I love the album which actually made #50 on BB R&B Albums chart but I too was surprised that it was ever made.
    Copley, so glad to see that someone else thinks "Lips" should have been a single. I think the playfulness of this song is similar to that of "Magician" and that, in itself, would have gotten it attention and airplay. I also agree that "Marionette" would have been the perfect follow-up.

    I am not a fan of the "Return..." album. Too many mediocre covers, although "So I Can Love You" is a standout. I originally liked the two Supremes covers for their variation from the originals but I soon tired of them.

    On this album Wanda just doesn't sound that good. I can't imagine her career advancing any further, unfortunately. It would have been wonderful to see her as a solo - she could sing almost any type of song so effortlessly that's why this album was such a huge disappointment. Oh, and I hate the cover.

  19. #19
    Agreed Good album to me as well Wanda and Smokey, how could you go wrong

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by SatansBlues View Post
    I think the releases were all just a part of their recording contract where Motown was obligated to release a certain number of singles and albums on the group each year until their contract ended.
    I agree SB. But I still feel that due to Wanda's problems [[and the departure of Katherine) Motown was ready to let The Marvelettes go. Now if "That's How Heartaches Are Made" & "Marionette" somehow became 'monster smashes', Motown's management might've made an effort to either get Wanda help or replace her in order to keep the group alive.

  21. #21
    i'm going to back things up a little bit. with the Pink album and singles like Don't Mess and Hunter, the group definitely had a resurgence. I like the follow up album but with Glady's departure, i think they should have upped Ann's position in the group. Made Ann and Wanda co-leads. yes i know Ann got 1 track on Soph and 1 on Bloom. but IMO Wanda's voice is limited. there are songs she's amazing on but others [[where there's too much headvoice) where I find it challenging to listen to her. plus i think the limited range of her voice makes a whole album of her also challenging to get through. having a few more Ann tracks might have helped add a spark.

    Basically after their resurgence in 66 and 67, they didn't go anywhere. that had been a new sound for them and they rode that wave. but then what?

  22. #22
    Don't you all think what hurt the Marvelettes most was really no albums [[to speak of) released between 1963 and 1967? Yes, there was a live album and a GH album in between, but they had all these great singles released in 1964-1966 that just ended up on a compilation. There should have been a release with "Fish" or "Bill".

    By comparison [[sorry!), the Supremes cranked out a dozen albums in the same time frame.

  23. #23
    @marybrewster,

    Indeed, four years is a lifetime for a group at such a time. It is a pity that the group seems to have had no one to be their champion when they needed label support.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    Basically after their resurgence in 66 and 67, they didn't go anywhere. that had been a new sound for them and they rode that wave. but then what?
    After the success of "Don't Mess With Bill" and The Marvelettes LP, Gladys Horton left to raise a family, Ann Bogan stepped in to replace her & Wanda Roger's personal problems made her difficult to work with and she started missing live shows. Combined with the failure of In Full Bloom, Motown had lost all interest in the group [[except for the group's name which they used for The Return of The Marvelettes album that only had Wanda on it).

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by marybrewster View Post
    Don't you all think what hurt the Marvelettes most was really no albums [[to speak of) released between 1963 and 1967? Yes, there was a live album and a GH album in between, but they had all these great singles released in 1964-1966 that just ended up on a compilation. There should have been a release with "Fish" or "Bill".

    By comparison [[sorry!), the Supremes cranked out a dozen albums in the same time frame.
    If the singles released during those years were major hits, I might agree. But many of them weren't. I don't think the Marvelettes were big album sellers anyway. From what I can see, they didn't even have a charting album until 1966, with GREATEST HITS. Its success was probably powered by the hit of DON'T MESS WITH BILL, along with the other hits on it.

    It seemed like Motown was waiting for a major pop /r&b hit before they put out an album. After HUNTER hit, Motown put out "The Pink Album", and later after MAGICIAN hit, they put out SOPHISTICATED SOUL. Maybe they could have put each out a few months earlier to capitalize on the hit.

    I do think Motown could possibly have released an album in the wake of TOO MANY FISH IN THE SEA which was a resurgence for them. But the two following singles charted progressively worse until they bounced back yet again with DON'T MESS WITH BILL.
    Last edited by reese; 03-10-2021 at 10:14 AM.

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    If the singles released during those years were major hits, I might agree. But many of them weren't. I don't think the Marvelettes were big album sellers anyway. From what I can see, they didn't even have a charting album until 1966, with GREATEST HITS. Its success was probably powered by the hit of DON'T MESS WITH BILL, along with the other hits on it.

    It seemed like Motown was waiting for a major pop /r&b hit before they put out an album. After HUNTER hit, Motown put out "The Pink Album", and later after MAGICIAN hit, they put out SOPHISTICATED SOUL. Maybe they could have put each out a few months earlier to capitalize on the hit.

    I do think Motown could possibly have released an album in the wake of TOO MANY FISH IN THE SEA which was a resurgence for them. But the two following singles charted progressively worse until they bounced back yet again with DON'T MESS WITH BILL.
    that's just looking at the pop charts. the girls were still strong on the r&b

    Too many fish - 25 pop and 5 r&b
    I'll keep on holding on - 34 and 11
    Danger - 61 and 11

    all three could have definitely anchored an album of their own. their 3 B sides were never included on an album. So there's 6 songs right there

    i did a playlist for this "lost album" and included:

    Side 1
    Danger Heartbreak
    Your cheating ways
    no time for tears
    learning to forget you
    I should have known better
    Too many fish in the sea

    Side 2
    I'll keep holding on
    the train that's bringing
    maybe i dried my tears
    anything you wanna do
    you're my remedy
    i just can't let him down

  27. #27
    Actually if you listen to their rendition of[a breath taking guy],it was pure disco and if it had been released just afew years later[the disco era]and pushed it may have done something..wanda's story is so sad,had she been able to continue even as a solo artist she could've been successful,if given the material and support...marvelettes forever!

  28. #28
    Makes you wonder what the Marvelettes were doing between 1964 and 1967. Sure, they were recording some singles and doing some touring, but how much time do you suppose that took up? A couple of days recording days each month? And maybe a couple of extended tours for a few weeks at a time? Sounds like a lot of "down" time. Did any of the members [[Gladys, Wanda, Kat) have side jobs they worked at when not being a Marvelette?

  29. #29
    @marybrewster,

    I imagine they toured quite a bit. I thought what was fascinating about Mary Wilson‘s first book was where she had kept such meticulous records of her touring schedule, recording schedule and so on. It was just fascinating to see how busy they were. In the early days, The Supremes appeared at venues such as the state fairs and places like that. I imagine when they ascended to playing places like the Copa, those other venues were still being toured heavily by the less famous groups such as the Marvelettes. And I imagine they worked pretty hard to bring in all that revenue to Motown. I think it’d be so interesting to really find out how they spent one of those years but I imagine Motown kept them on the road almost constantly, perhaps not usually as headliners but in support of other acts and of course the annual motor town review which always ended at Christmas at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. How I would love to go back in time and be there!
    Last edited by kenneth; 03-10-2021 at 08:52 PM.

  30. Quote Originally Posted by marybrewster View Post
    Makes you wonder what the Marvelettes were doing between 1964 and 1967. Sure, they were recording some singles and doing some touring, but how much time do you suppose that took up? A couple of days recording days each month? And maybe a couple of extended tours for a few weeks at a time? Sounds like a lot of "down" time. Did any of the members [[Gladys, Wanda, Kat) have side jobs they worked at when not being a Marvelette?
    If you look at recording dates for the numerous [[and there were quite a lot) recordings that went unreleased, I'd hardly say they only spent a couple of days here and there in the studio. Pick up the 2 Marvelettes box sets and its amazing just how much recording was going on between '64 and '67.

    Plus, the Marvelettes had a pretty loyal fan base and were fan favorites. Their career was still strong enough that I'm certain they were pretty busy touring; and not just in the U.S.but overseas as well. No doubt, their singles were well-received on Soul radio stations and according to Katherine in the book on the Marvelettes, they were considered a good live act and a great draw.

    Everone also overlooks the fact that the Miracles, too, had a rather fair slump chart-wise from '64 to sometime in '65 but were still a very popular live act. Little Stevie Wonder couldn't buy a hit for the longest but Motown kept him busy on those tours.

    I've read that even the lesser known artists have remarked that regardless of not having a hit, Motown kept them busy with touring, recording and those Artists Development classes. So I don't believe the Marvelettes needed "side jobs" or were hardly left with much down time of any kind. They were blessed with an exciting enough stage presence and act that they were able to remain popular as a live act.
    Last edited by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance; 03-10-2021 at 10:09 PM.

  31. #31
    @WaitingWatching,

    Well hello there! Nice to see you my friend. Where have you been brother? Haven’t seen you around here for a quite a while. We’ve been discussing lots of things about the Marvelettes and we’ve missed your input!

    K

  32. #32
    i agree. although their schedules might not have been quite as crazy as the Supremes', they were still on the road a LOT. seems like they were in Europe usually once a year or so starting in 66. they were frequently at the Apollo, the Howard and many other traditionally black theaters. i'm sure lots of college dates.

    and then yes, rehearsals and recording. although by 66/67, much of the BG vocals were the Andantes. there are still some with the Marvelettes. and some with both.

    agree that they wouldn't have had time for part time jobs. plus they had families at home too

  33. #33
    The marvelettes were great on stage.

  34. #34
    I've wondered this as well. My guess is Motown would have sent out Wanda and two new girls on the road as the Marvelettes to promote the album.

    I've also wondered what if "Too Hurt To Cry" became a smash hit. Would Motown have revealed that it was the Marvelettes or grab a few singers and say here they are: The Darnells!

  35. Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    @WaitingWatching,

    Well hello there! Nice to see you my friend. Where have you been brother? Haven’t seen you around here for a quite a while. We’ve been discussing lots of things about the Marvelettes and we’ve missed your input!

    K
    Hi Kenneth. So good to talk to you again. I've been here off and on but just thought it might be better to leave the commenting to everyone else for the most part!

  36. #36
    I'm surprised that no one mentioned the album's inclusion of After All, which was of major interest for me. I'd read years earlier, probably in the transcript of an interview with Diana Ross, that this song had been the first The Supremes recorded at Motown, and I was always curious about it, wondering why it had never been released. Wanda's performance of the song was delightful -- it is my favorite cut on the album, still -- and my hunger to hear The Supremes' rendition intensified. Of course, at that time, I had no idea that The Supremes' recording would prove to be a showcase for all four girls, making it absolutely essential for understanding the potential each group member brought to Motown. It was a revelation! And after all these years, After All seems to be one of the true Motown classics; it plays in my mind periodically, it has a strong, relatable lyric line and a memorable melody, and I continue to listen to both The Supremes' version and The Marvelettes' version when I want to remember the promise and the excitement of early Motown at its best.

  37. #37
    The Marvelettes "After All" is a much smoother arrangement and very pleasing on the ears compared to that of The Supremes - it's a different era and would be my number 1 version.

    On The Supremes version I rather like the second voice you hear [[not sure who's) as it has a nice tone to it. But of the early versions, The Miracles [[Claudette) wins out for me. I think that's only available in mono whereas the others can be heard in mono or stereo

  38. #38
    On The Supremes' version, the soloists are [[1) Florence; [[2) Mary; [[3) Barbara; and [[4) Diana. Back in the [[pre-Internet) day, I thought only The Supremes and The Marvelettes had performed this song; I will have to check out the Miracles' version; thanks for letting us know about it.

  39. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by mysterysinger View Post
    "Heartaches" was/is a very strong version amd it's a shame it didn't fare better. "The Truth's Outside My Door" and "Now Is The Time For Love" are excellent too. They must have liked "Uptown" cos it featured on 2 albums but I wish they hadn't bothered as I can't see past The Crystals with that song.
    I agree, mysterysinger. In fact, to my ears, "That's How Heartaches Are Made" is among Motown's prettiest records ever -- right up there with Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted" and The Supremes' "I Guess I'll Miss The Man". Other standout "In Full Bloom" tracks for me are "Now Is The Time For Love", "Too Many Tears, Too Many Times", and "Seeing Is Believing" [[although Wanda's falsetto on the latter is not for me).

    Regarding "Uptown", I have to agree. Phil Spector and The Crystals own that song -- plain, pure and simple!

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by benross View Post
    On The Supremes' version, the soloists are [[1) Florence; [[2) Mary; [[3) Barbara; and [[4) Diana. Back in the [[pre-Internet) day, I thought only The Supremes and The Marvelettes had performed this song; I will have to check out the Miracles' version; thanks for letting us know about it.
    Thanks for that info - Mary's voice sounds very commercial on this. The Supremes recorded it first.

    The Miracles "After All" was in the album "Hi... We're The Miracles". It's smoother I think.

  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by Philles/Motown Gary View Post
    I agree, mysterysinger. In fact, to my ears, "That's How Heartaches Are Made" is among Motown's prettiest records ever -- right up there with Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted" and The Supremes' "I Guess I'll Miss The Man". Other standout "In Full Bloom" tracks for me are "Now Is The Time For Love", "Too Many Tears, Too Many Times", and "Seeing Is Believing" [[although Wanda's falsetto on the latter is not for me).

    Regarding "Uptown", I have to agree. Phil Spector and The Crystals own that song -- plain, pure and simple!
    By gum, Gary, where have you been?

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by floyjoy678 View Post
    I've wondered this as well. My guess is Motown would have sent out Wanda and two new girls on the road as the Marvelettes to promote the album.

    I've also wondered what if "Too Hurt To Cry" became a smash hit. Would Motown have revealed that it was the Marvelettes or grab a few singers and say here they are: The Darnells!
    Name:  av-5.jpg
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    According to the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper article, Toronto's Darnells had been signed as singing artists and recorded "Too Hurt To Cry", and we surmised that IF the Toronto group was actually used, after practising the song, the producers [[HDH?) weren't satisfied with the lead vocals, so, they got Gladys to sing the lead part, and perhaps, The Andantes added for sweetening, OR, that Gladys and The Andantes totally replaced the Toronto group.

  43. #43
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    I think that The Miracles' version of "After All" was the best.

  44. #44
    Claudette did a grand job

  45. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by robb_k View Post
    Name:  av-5.jpg
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    According to the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper article, Toronto's Darnells had been signed as singing artists and recorded "Too Hurt To Cry", and we surmised that IF the Toronto group was actually used, after practising the song, the producers [[HDH?) weren't satisfied with the lead vocals, so, they got Gladys to sing the lead part, and perhaps, The Andantes added for sweetening, OR, that Gladys and The Andantes totally replaced the Toronto group.
    Wow, robb K, I swore that when I was visiting my cousins the summer of "63 I saw a photo, in a record shop, of the Darnells, 2 girls, 2 guys for "Too Hurt To Cry" but when I bought the 45 in Miami, the Gordy 45 was in a plain brown case & I kept sayin that it sounds like Gladys of the Marvelettes & then over the years we KNEW it was Gladys.

  46. #46
    I meant to say visiting my cousins in Montgomery, Al. thats where I saw the photo of The Darnells.

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by mysterysinger View Post
    By gum, Gary, where have you been?
    Just taking a much-needed break, Mystery. BTW, while I've got you on the line here, which Cliff Richard movie did you say explains why you call yourself Mystery Singer? Was it "Summer Holiday"? It occurred to me recently that I still hadn't watched it and I felt guilty. I'm about to correct that now.

  48. #48
    Lol no need to feel guilty - they're not everyone's cup of tea I'd say. But the film was "The Young Ones"..

  49. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by mysterysinger View Post
    Lol no need to feel guilty - they're not everyone's cup of tea I'd say. But the film was "The Young Ones"..
    Mysterysinger, I'm sorry to say that Cliff Richard's movie "In The Country" has been removed from YouTube, as have other movies in general which we once were able to watch for free. Now you've REALLY got me wondering how you got your name "Mysterysinger"!!! [I even resorted to Googling questions like, "Was there a mysterysinger in Cliff Richard's movie "Summer Vacation", but to no avail.]

    The good news is that, while waiting to hear the name of Cliff's movie from you, I stumbled upon the stage version of "Summer Holiday" with Darren Day & The Shadows. At first, I didn't like the songs at all. They seemed kind of nerdy. But then, without warning, the melodies became very pleasing -- some even quite beautiful -- and, boy, can those guys harmonize! I loved it and I was hooked! By the end of the show, I found myself applauding AND cheering with the theatre audience after each and every song!

    Here's the link in case you've never seen this version, or if you would like to see it again.

    https://youtu.be/f871pBIIOmA

  50. #50
    The Young Ones.

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