The Marvelous Marvelettes

by: The Marvelettes

The Marvelettes' albums, in the group's early days, were of two varieties: comprised either of rush-recorded sides slapped up against a hit single, intended to capitalize on that hit single, or mostly of single sides, rounded out with a few new tracks set down to fill out the long-player. The Marvelous Marvelettes is sort of a hybrid of those two categories -- four of its ten songs were singles that had charted (one of them, "Strange I Know," hitting the R&B Top Ten), and the Holland-Dozier-Holland-authored "Locking Up My Heart" was the group's then-current single, cut just five weeks before the album's release. But it also benefited from some new sides that showed some new (and one old) talent in their stable, starting to contribute in a serious way -- four of the songs were authored or co-authored by Norman Whitfield, then 22 years old and starting to make his early mark on Motown's sound. The latter material, especially the delightfully lighthearted "Silly Boy" -- showing the group at its least self-serious -- may not have been groundbreaking, but neither was it a bad beginning contribution by Whitfield. And "Why Must You Go" -- an achingly beautiful slowie that shows more language facility than was common in soul ballads of the time -- was good enough to end the album, and it succeeds (as does the group) by leaving the listener wanting more. Among the other highlights, "My Daddy Knows Best," authored by Berry Gordy, is a throwback to an earlier, pre-Motown harmony vocal sound that is sung so beguilingly that it's impossible to dislike the song (which got to the lower reaches of the Hot 100). The next time out of the box for the group -- which would be four years (!) and one greatest-hits compilation later -- the Marvelettes would do even better by their talent and the songs handed to them. ~ Bruce Eder & John Lowe

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