The Elgins – “Heaven Must Have Sent You”

elgins heaven

The Elgins – “Heaven Must Have Sent You,” Pop #50 , R&B #9

By Joel Francis

I suspect that if you took this single and replaced the word “Elgins” with “Supremes” and gave it to DJs with no other changes, it would have been a far bigger hit.

Not that Saundra Edwards’ voice sounds like Diana Ross’ – Edwards’ has more depth and fullness – but the Holland-Dozier-Holland team that cranked this number out sure cribbed it in the same production and arrangement that sent all the Supremes material to the top of the charts.

Unfortunately, Edwards wasn’t Ross and the Elgins weren’t the Supremes. Frustrated by her lack of success at Motown – Edwards recorded two songs for the label in 1962 as Saundra Mallett and the Vandellas – left the group shortly after the group recorded their only full-length platter. The Elgins briefly carried on with Yvonne Allen in Edwards’ place, but disbanded in 1968.

Although it had little impact at the time, “Heaven Must Have Sent You” finally became a Motown pop hit in 1979 – for disco singer Bonnie Pointer, the youngest of the Pointer Sisters. Spurred by this hit, though, the Elgins regrouped in the 1980s. Although there was only one original Elgin in this lineup, the group toured and re-recorded “Heaven Must Have Sent You.” Edwards also cut a solo album in the early ‘80s with the same producer the Elgins were using at the time.

The Elgins – “Darling Baby”

darling-baby

The Elgins – “Darling Baby,” Pop #72, R&B #4

The Elgins started as a trio in 1962 who called themselves The Downbeats. When they added frontwoman Sandra Edwards (nee Mallet) and another singer, they switched their name to the Elgins. That wouldn’t have been a problem, except copies of “Darling Baby” were already being pressed, so new labels had to be hastily printed. Copies of “Darling Baby” credited to the Downbeats carry a hefty price tag. (Original pressings of the Elgins’ “Darling Baby” run between $25 and $50.)

The group’s name choice is an interesting one. The Temptations went as the Elgins before Berry Gordy made them come up with a new handle. There was also a Los Angeles-based doo-wop group with the same name.

Unfortunately, all of this history is more interesting than the actual song. Penned by the usually spectacular Holland-Dozier-Holland team, “Darling Baby” is as generic as its title. Despite a fine vocal performance by Edwards, the backing vocals are laughably unconvincing, the rhythm plods and the arrangement is stagnant. Edwards pleads her departing lover to “talk it over one more time,” but it’s obvious there isn’t much being said.

Fortunately, the Elgins’ follow-up hit “Heaven Must Have Sent You,” atones for the misstep of “Darling Baby.” – by Joel Francis