The Marvelettes – “Don’t Mess With Bill,” Pop #7, R&B #3
The three years between this hit and the Marvelettes’ previous chart entry, “Beechwood 4-5789,” saw them slide from Barry Gordy’s go-to girl group to third fiddle behind Martha and the Vandellas and the Supremes. After passing on “Where Did Our Love Go,” which became a hit for the Supremes, they finally found success with this Smokey Robinson number.
Lyrically, this relationship may not be the most stable: Bill has put tears in lead singer Wanda Young’s eyes “a thousand times or more.” But “every time he would apologize/I loved him more than before.” Furthermore, Young isn’t sure Bill will come back; that said, she wants no competition.
The vocal deliveries may not be threatening, but the slinky organ underpinning the melody and saxophone solo add an element of danger. Any girl that’s tough enough to put up with what Bill hands out can definitely hold her own. – by Joel Francis