Friday, 31 May 2019

Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - Heat Wave (1963)

Whenever he calls my name....


Released September 1963

This was Martha Reeves & The Vandellas' debut album, and, while it suffers a little from being a typical early/mid sixties Motown album, i.e. a vehicle for a couple of great hit singles filled out with cover versions of popular songs from the time, this is not a bad offering. The sound quality is good too, stereo as well.


1. (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave
2. Hey There Lonely Boy
3. More
4. Danke Schön
5. If I Had A Hammer
6. Then He Kissed Me
7. Wait Till My Bobby Gets Home
8. Hello Stranger
9. Just One Look
10. My Boyfriend's Back
11. Mockingbird
12. Quicksand                                      

The opener, (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave is a copper-bottomed Motown gem from the opening drum beat through its joyous horns and beat to its great vocals from Martha and the girls. That saxophone backing too. Awesome. The ballad Hey There Lonely Boy was a hit in 1974 in the UK for Eddie Holman in its Girl format. More was a movie theme that sounds quite dated now as indeed is Danke Schön (sung strangely by Martha as "Danke Shane").

The jaunty If I Had A Hammer is always difficult to resist. It suits the group perfectly. Then it is time for a couple of Phil Spector numbers, the romantic Then He Kissed Me (I still prefer The Crystals' version, however) and the lively fun of Wait Till My Bobby Gets Home. The latter matches Darlene Love's original. Hello Stranger is a nice, typical 1963 Motown smoochy number, with its "shoo-bop-shoo-wop" nods to rock 'n' roll.

Just One Look was a hit the following year in the UK for The Hollies and Doris Troy had originally done it. It is much better here as a soulful Motown number than The Hollies sixties jangly pop version of it. The Angels' My Boyfriend's Back proves no problem for The Vandellas. Mockingbird was originally done by Inez and Charlie Foxx. Once again, it is covered impressively, then we get Heat Wave mk. 2 in the similarly infectious Quicksand. Yes, there are lots of covers on here, but it is still very listenable.


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