Mary Wells – “Two Lovers,” Pop #7, R&B #1
Mary Wells’ follow up to “You Beat Me to the Punch” found her back with Smokey Robinson with the same results: a No. 1 R&B hit.
This song tends to get lost in the wake of the runaway success “My Guy,” but is the most complete musical Wells/Robinson collaboration. Here the sophistication of “The One Who Really Loves You” is improved – without being overshadowed – by a great chorus. What sounds scandalous at first blush, a early ‘60s black women singing openly about having more than one lover, takes a great turn in the final verse. (I’ll leave it to you to listen to the twist for yourself.)
By this point Wells had really stepped into her own as a singer. Her double-tracked vocals are both confident and confiding, as if she’s sharing a seductive secret. Wells sounds like a woman who could not pull off having two men at once, but enjoy it. And yet, there’s some hesitation and vulnerability present as well. Wells isn’t just boasting about her love, she’s working it out in her head at the same time.
This song, along with Wells’ two other No. 1 hits, demonstrates why Wells was Motown’s first true diva and remains one of its best female vocalists. — By Joel Francis