Dancing in the Streets [K-Tel]

by: Martha Reeves

Unlike many of these latter-day hitfests, K-Tel's Dancing in the Streets does in fact feature lead vocals by the real Martha Reeves. That would normally be a plus. But while Reeves manages to flutter through "Come See About Me" with most of the original's grace, many of the tracks here suffer from over-singing on her part, or canned backing tracks that resemble the blurt of a karaoke machine. "Jimmy Mack" and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" especially suffer from the latter fault, while Reeves seems to strain on the title track, "(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave," and "Quicksand." There's still a tinge of that Motown sound in these songs, but its drifting smoke isn't enough to save Dancing in the Streets. Since the record is billed to Reeves herself, the girl group sound of her hits with the Vandellas is relegated almost to parody, with tinny backing vocals replacing the rich, soulful harmonies that defined that group's sound. The Ultimate Collection, Motown's 1998 Martha & the Vandellas retrospective, is a better place to find this material, for in the end, Dancing in the Streets is only an echoing suggestion of how great the original songs really were. ~ Johnny Loftus

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