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  1. #1

    The Marvelettes "Paper Boy" "Please Mr. Postman" clone?



    On another thread, the subject of Motown B-sides came up. I was thinking about this one by the Marvelettes, "Paper Boy." I recall being kinda ticked that Motown would stick such an older song on the B-side of "You're The One." I was looking for something much more "MOTOWN!" [[chuckle). It's not a bad song, but I had the feeling that this was something that back in 1963, somebody thought would be a tie-in hit going back the the "Postman" theme and feeling. Had anyone else recorded this, I probably wouldn't have liked it at all, but as usual, the Marvelettes were able to transcend even the dullest and poorly-conceived material.

    This more or less illustrates the issue Motown was having in trying to capitalize on The Marvelettes first major hit [[Please Mr. Postman) and trying distill what made that one work into their later follow-ups. It's pretty much the same issue the company had with Little Stevie Wonder. Once "Fingertips" hit, they had a heck of a time trying to figure out how to build on that to keep the momentum going. I think Brenda Holloway too was saddled with having to remain in her "box" as a singer of slower, emotional ballads after having a hit right out of the gate with "Every Little Bit Hurts".

    "Paper Boy" was recorded in 1963, quite a few years beyond "Postman." Yet the implications are all there that this was some kind of attempt to recapture the glory of that first image-making hit. If that was the case, this would seem to be hitting rock bottom. Especially when you consider Motown ended up going with "My Daddy Knows Best" and "As Long As I Know He's Mine." Not the worst of songs, but definitely and very much tunes contrived to keep the group in their teeny-bopper stage. Still, you gotta hand it to the group that their fan base and Motown's creativity was strong enough that even their lower-charting singles kept them on the charts long enough to weather the drought of hits until "Don't Mess With Bill."

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    WaitingWatching, in 1966 and 1967, Motown went through a [[thankfully) short-lived phase whereby they were using old, early-60s tracks as the B-sides of their latest 45 recordings. In addition to The Marvelettes' "You're The One" being coupled with "Paper Boy", DRATS "Forever Came Today" was saddled with "Time Changes Things" from 1962's "Meet The Supremes" LP, and The Temptations' "[[I Know) I'm Losing You" was inappropriately stuck with 1962's "I Couldn't Cry If I Wanted To". There may have been more, but that's all I'm remembering off the top of my head. To my ears, these inappropriate, age-old couplings stuck out like a sore thumb and were downright embarrassing. I'm glad that you pointed this out for others to see. After all these years, I thought I was the only one who was annoyed by these inappropriate mismatches.
    Last edited by Philles/Motown Gary; 09-26-2021 at 02:46 AM.

  3. #3
    This is the most incredibly bizarre thing. Originally, when I wrote this, it veered off onto this very subject about Motown using old, pre-'64 recordings for B-sides. I even listed the exact same B-sides you did. Then I ditched that part because it seemed I was going all over the place and far beyond what I originally was focusing on. And here you're the first to reply and I swear it's as if you saw the way I had first written this thing! Are you psychic?

    So let's go on in this direction. One thing I had planned to mention was there must have been some rationale behind this string of using older songs for B-sides. I think there was a discussion here awhile back about Motown re-releasing some of their older hits around the mid-to-late 60s. I'm hazy on this but it seems I've come across a few articles that spoke about a phenomenon in the latter part of the 60s for the older rock 'n' roll sounds, a sort of early nostalgia. Hmmmm #1...

    Consider too, there was a community of Low Rider enthusiasts who preferred the earlier rock 'n' roll hits to the then-current sounds in music of the latter half of the sixties. In Peter Benjaminson's book on Mary Wells, I believe he touches on this, observing that the Low Rider community preferred Mary's early 60's Motown output to her newer 20th Century output. Hmmmm #2....

    O.K. The capper. Almost eerily coincidentally, tonight I was watching an old American Bandstand episode from 1968 on YouTube. They played a song which, to me, sounded like something from a good 5 years before. Check this out: the kids loved it-one girl said she lived it precisely because it had an "old time" sound! Dick Clark referred to it as having an Oldies But Goodies sound. So all these things together have me thinking Motown was hip to this trend [[if that's what was going on) of kids wanting that older sound. They may have felt there was a potential for an unexpected windfall from the older tunes.

    I never would have thought there was nostalgia happening among the teens of the 60s for the earlier pre Sgt. Peppers sound but maybe it was. I've read that radio programmers were also starting to include "oldies" in response to the young adults who found a comfort in hearing those types of songs.

    So this could explain why all those old Motown Sounds were backing the newer Motown Sounds for a spell.
    Last edited by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance; 09-26-2021 at 04:01 AM.

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    I couldn't find the other thread regarding B-Sides; however, didn't Motown sometimes release those older, obscure B-sides so the writers/producers of them could make some money? Didn't the B-side writers/producers earn 50% of the record sales?

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    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post


    On another thread, the subject of Motown B-sides came up. I was thinking about this one by the Marvelettes, "Paper Boy." I recall being kinda ticked that Motown would stick such an older song on the B-side of "You're The One." I was looking for something much more "MOTOWN!" [[chuckle). It's not a bad song, but I had the feeling that this was something that back in 1963, somebody thought would be a tie-in hit going back the the "Postman" theme and feeling. Had anyone else recorded this, I probably wouldn't have liked it at all, but as usual, the Marvelettes were able to transcend even the dullest and poorly-conceived material.

    This more or less illustrates the issue Motown was having in trying to capitalize on The Marvelettes first major hit [[Please Mr. Postman) and trying distill what made that one work into their later follow-ups. It's pretty much the same issue the company had with Little Stevie Wonder. Once "Fingertips" hit, they had a heck of a time trying to figure out how to build on that to keep the momentum going. I think Brenda Holloway too was saddled with having to remain in her "box" as a singer of slower, emotional ballads after having a hit right out of the gate with "Every Little Bit Hurts".

    "Paper Boy" was recorded in 1963, quite a few years beyond "Postman." Yet the implications are all there that this was some kind of attempt to recapture the glory of that first image-making hit. If that was the case, this would seem to be hitting rock bottom. Especially when you consider Motown ended up going with "My Daddy Knows Best" and "As Long As I Know He's Mine." Not the worst of songs, but definitely and very much tunes contrived to keep the group in their teeny-bopper stage. Still, you gotta hand it to the group that their fan base and Motown's creativity was strong enough that even their lower-charting singles kept them on the charts long enough to weather the drought of hits until "Don't Mess With Bill."
    I remember the first time I heard The Marvelettes' "Paper Boy" and while it's not a bad song it's as much of a "Please Mr. Postman" clone as "Twistin' Postman" [and a song that would've worked on one the group's early LPs]. And as far as Motown recycling older songs for B-Sides, don't forget Marvin Gaye's "Wherever I Lay My Hat" [from Marvin's 2nd LP in 1963 and used as the flip of 1969's "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby"].

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    Another example of a Motown recycled song is Martha Reeves & The Vandellas' "I Gotta Let You Go". The backing track was recorded in Oct. 1964 and Jimmy Ruffin did the vocals [and his version of the song didn't come out until the 90's]. While Martha & Co. added their vocals to the song for it's release in Oct. 1970, this style of music was fast becoming dated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jobucats View Post
    I couldn't find the other thread regarding B-Sides; however, didn't Motown sometimes release those older, obscure B-sides so the writers/producers of them could make some money? Didn't the B-side writers/producers earn 50% of the record sales?
    I don't know if Motown released older songs on the B-sides of some of their mid to late '60s hits just so the they could make more money for their songwriters/producers. However, they did save money by doing this since they didn't have to put up the additional costs to record a brand new song for a B-side.

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    the flip side of "The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game" is "I think I Can Change You" from the "Playboy" LP.I always liked "Paper Boy". Motown 45's were always a great buy.Someone mentioned "Time Changes Things" by the Supremes as the flip of "Forever Came Today" but it was also the flip of the first record I ever bought by the Supremes "Let Me Go the Right Way"...what a bargain that was still 2 of my fave Supremes songs.

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    Maybe one reason for deciding to issue old tracks on what were strongly intended as B sides arose around the time that both sides of Mary Wells' 45, "You Lost The Sweetest Boy" and "What's Easy For Two Is Hard For One", made the charts more or less simultaneously.

    "Paper Boy" had been in the can for three years when it came out as the B side of "You're The One" in 1966. Although it might have been a minor hit if they'd put it out back when it was cut, it definitely sounded dated when the single was issued.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    This is the most incredibly bizarre thing. Originally, when I wrote this, it veered off onto this very subject about Motown using old, pre-'64 recordings for B-sides. I even listed the exact same B-sides you did. Then I ditched that part because it seemed I was going all over the place and far beyond what I originally was focusing on. And here you're the first to reply and I swear it's as if you saw the way I had first written this thing! Are you psychic?

    .
    Gary is ,if not psychic, quite intuitive !

    Good topic. Maybe another angle for doing so is to get that 45 buyer aware of and interested in the artist's older catalog, and not just in the current LP. Back in those days , no youtube etc... if you wanted to hear more of their older stuff....you'd have to go and buy it [or borrow the record from a willing friend ! ha!].
    Seems like Stevie Wonder's singles were loaded with B sides from past LPs ??

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    To Waiting, Watching who asked: "Are you psychic?"

    And Boogie who exclaimed: Gary is ,if not psychic, quite intuitive !

    And the winner is: Boogie!

    No, not psychic [[at least, not yet)! Just fussy about my Motown.

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    To Motown Eddie who recalled: "And as far as Motown recycling older songs for B-Sides, don't forget Marvin Gaye's "Wherever I Lay My Hat" [from Marvin's 2nd LP in 1963 and used as the flip of 1969's "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby.")

    And to Motony, who commented: "The flip side of "The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game" is "I Think I Can Change You."


    Those are two further examples of what I was referring to.

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    re: motown “b” sides:

    motown, like most labels, used the simple and well-used method of giving the “b” side to an already recorded song that wouldn’t compete with the “a” side, but would keep the publishing rights within the motown empire. just about the only song that played in my hometown that didn’t follow this rule was the double-sided hit “love is here and now you’re gone” and “there’s no stopping us now.”

    off the top of my head the only two groups that consistently had double-sided hits during the late 1960s were the stones and the beatles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by keith_hughes View Post
    Maybe one reason for deciding to issue old tracks on what were strongly intended as B sides arose around the time that both sides of Mary Wells' 45, "You Lost The Sweetest Boy" and "What's Easy For Two Is Hard For One", made the charts more or less simultaneously.

    "Paper Boy" had been in the can for three years when it came out as the B side of "You're The One" in 1966. Although it might have been a minor hit if they'd put it out back when it was cut, it definitely sounded dated when the single was issued.
    Keith -- and also to thisoldheart -- you both bring up a good point which I hadn't considered until now. Motown may have temporarily tried sticking an old, obsolete-sounding song on the B-side to prevent DJ's from flipping the record over and playing the B-side instead of the intended A-side, as Phil Spector did by pressing his Philles B-sides with Jazz instrumentals.

    Personally, I wouldn't have minded Motown putting a track from an earlier album on the B-side if it had at least been a track containing "The Motown Sound". But to use those age-old cha-cha recordings before Motown developed its sound was annoying as all get-out -- especially when I was trying to impress fellow high-school classmates with the latest Motown releases, as I often did. Our Business class had one of those neat old 1960's Califone "classroom" record players [[which radiotvphononut is oftentimes restoring on his YouTube channel). Every time I bought a new Motown 45, I'd take it into Business class with me to play for the 9 or 10 classmates before the teacher showed up. Three or 4 of the students always loved what I brought in, but there was always one hard-rock fan who thought Motown was bubble-gum crap. One day, when I was playing The Tempts' "[[I Know) I'm Losing You", I tried to get away with not playing the B-side, "I Couldn't Cry If I Wanted To". As luck would have it, somebody requested that I play the B-side. I said, "No, it's time for Mr. K to arrive." They egged me on with, "Come on, just flip it over and play the B-side real quick. Out-numbered, I reluctantly honored their request. As expected, nobody liked it. And, what's worse, the hard rock-loving, Motown-hating creep said, "What the hell is that?" Embarrased that he of all people was there to hear it and criticize it, all I could say in embarrassment was, "I know. It sucks." In retrospect, Motown had tons of high-quality, previously-unreleased "Motown-Sound"-ing material they could have tapped to use as B-side filler for their 45 releases. Why they resorted to using that old, obsolete stuff is still beyond me.
    Last edited by Philles/Motown Gary; 09-27-2021 at 01:14 PM.

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    A question for the experts. Since flipsides earn the same amount of royalties for the writers and producers as do the A sides, doesn’t that have something to do with their ultimate selection? I mean, is it that a producer can basically dictate what song to put on a B-side because he has the authority or control over the ultimate release?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Philles/Motown Gary View Post
    Keith -- and also to thisoldheart -- you both bring up a good point which I hadn't considered until now. Motown may have temporarily tried sticking an old, obsolete-sounding song on the B-side to prevent DJ's from flipping the record over and playing the B-side instead of the intended A-side, as Phil Spector did by pressing his Philles B-sides with Jazz instrumentals.

    Personally, I wouldn't have minded Motown putting a track from an earlier album on the B-side if it had at least been a track containing "The Motown Sound". But to use those age-old cha-cha recordings before Motown developed its sound was annoying as all get-out -- especially when I was trying to impress fellow high-school classmates with the latest Motown releases, as I often did. Our Business class had one of those neat old 1960's Califone "classroom" record players [[which radiotvphononut is oftentimes restoring on his YouTube channel). Every time I bought a new Motown 45, I'd take it into Business class with me to play for the 9 or 10 classmates before the teacher showed up. Three or 4 of the students always loved what I brought in, but there was always one hard-rock fan who thought Motown was bubble-gum crap. One day, when I was playing The Tempts' "[[I Know) I'm Losing You", I tried to get away with not playing the B-side, "I Couldn't Cry If I Wanted To". As luck would have it, somebody requested that I play the B-side. I said, "No, it's time for Mr. K to arrive." They egged me on with, "Come on, just flip it over and play the B-side real quick. Out-numbered, I reluctantly honored their request. As expected, nobody liked it. And, what's worse, the hard rock-loving, Motown-hating creep said, "What the hell is that?" Embarrased that he of all people was there to hear it and criticize it, all I could say in embarrassment was, "I know. It sucks." In retrospect, Motown had tons of high-quality, previously-unreleased "Motown-Sound"-ing material they could have tapped to use as B-side filler for their 45 releases. Why they resorted to using that old, obsolete stuff is still beyond me.
    Come to think of it, the B-Sides of some Motown singles were not the only place you'd find older material. For instance, The Temptations' 1966 LP Gettin' Ready had "Not Now, I'll Tell You Later" which was recorded back in 1963. Also, Martha & The Vandellas' 1965 album Dance Party has their version of Marvin Gaye's 1962 hit "Hitch Hike" [using the same backing track as Marvin's]. I'm other posters will be able to point out other examples of this.

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    I don't care much for "Paper boy", but I do like the shout out to the Detroit Free Press in the song.

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