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Posts Tagged ‘Blood Sweat and Tears’

kim-weston

Kim Weston – “Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While),” Pop #50, R&B #4

By Joel Francis

Kim Weston is best remembered as Marvin Gaye’s duet partner on “It Takes Two,” but she did manage to score a few chart hits on her own. (Like seemingly every Motown hit of 1965) “Take Me In Your Arms” was written by the Holland-Dozier-Holland team. It was Weston’s most successful solo effort.

Weston faced the same obstacle that confronted every female Motown singer post-1964: She wasn’t Diana Ross. While label founder Berry Gordy was busy obsessing over Ross and the Supremes, Weston’s husband, longtime Motown A&R man Mickey Stevenson, was pouring the same energy into his wife. Unfortunately, the Motown machinery didn’t quite know what to do with her. Weston’s body wasn’t built for the dresses Gordy had designed for his female stars and Gordy’s sisters, who also worked at the label, grew resentful of all the time Stevenson spent grooming his wife. Aside from her tenure as Gaye’s duet partner, Weston was always a second-tier vocalist for the label.

After writing epic, sweeping arrangements for the Four Tops, the score for this number is pretty straightforward. There are no strings or horns. In fact, the entire song rests in the strength of the Funk Brothers rhythm section. “Rock Me” is the operative phrase from the title. The tambourine and drums pushed in the listeners face while equally strong guitar and piano work buried in the mix. Weston’s powerful singing drives everything home. If you’re feet aren’t moving 10 seconds into this number call the doctor, there’s something wrong.

The song was back on the R&B charts just two years later courtesy of the Isley Brothers. A different set of brothers, the Doobie Brothers rode the song to No. 11 on the pop chart in 1975. Blood, Sweat and Tears also covered the song on their 1971 album “BS&T 4.”

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Brenda Holloway – “When I’m Gone,” Pop # 25, R&B #12

By Joel Francis

Brenda Holloway isn’t the biggest name in soul music, but she was on top of the world when this song hit 1965. She opened for the Beatles on their U.S. tour that year, and performed at the legendary Shea Stadium show.

The story behind “When I’m Gone” is more interesting than the song itself. Originally slated to be Mary Well’s follow-up to “My Guy,” the song was given to Holloway when Wells spurned Motown for 20th Century Fox Records. Despite being an alto to Well’s soprano, Berry Gordy thought Holloway was best-suited to put lead vocals to Well’s backing track.

“When I’m Gone” wasn’t as big a hit as “Every Little Bit Hurts,” but Holloway kept making singles for the next three years. Shortly after recording the original version of “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” (later a huge hit for Blood Sweat and Tears), Holloway retired from the music business. Deeply religious, Holloway was disillusioned with Motown and conflicted about the lifestyle expected of a young star. Although she was just 22, Holloway had been making records for 6 years. After a 12-year absence, she returned with gospel album in 1980 and a pop album in 1999.

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