Martha and the Vandellas – “Love (Makes Me Do Foolish Things)”

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Martha and the Vandellas – “Love (Makes Me Do Foolish Things),” Pop #70, R&B #22

By Joel Francis

Martha and the Vandellas didn’t do many ballads. Their best-known songs – “Heat Wave,” “Jimmy Mack” and “Nowhere to Run” – are all relentlessly upbeat. Despite the drastic change in tempo, the three songs above share at least one similarity with “Love (Makes Me Do Foolish Things)”: They were all written by Holland-Dozier-Holland.

The HDH team really came into its own in 1965, the year “Love” was released. Rare was the week that one or more of their songs wasn’t found near the top of the charts. This number, however, was a rare misstep for the team.

Martha Reeves turns in a fine vocal performance, but the song never really ignites. The number never peaks. Once Reeves’ voice enters, everything just kind of sits there until the fade-out. Although the trio wrote captivating arrangements for “It’s the Same Old Song” and “I Hear a Symphony,” the arrangement here isn’t anything to write home about. The drums are prominent in the mix, but aren’t really saying anything. Likewise, one gets the impression the strings were just added to make the mix more full. Finally, the lyrics are solid, but don’t expose anything not given away in the title.

“Love (Makes Me Do Foolish Things)” never ignited with other artists, either. Berry Gordy tried to farm the song off to a couple other Motown artists, most notably the Supremes. The results of Kim Weston’s adventures with the tune languished in the Motown vaults until the historical reissues of 2005.

That said, it is never wise to write off a Holland-Dozier-Holland number, especially from this era. In the right hands, the song could be a surprising hit today.

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