The Monitors – “Greetings (This Is Uncle Sam),” Pop #100, R&B #21
The Monitors’ can thank the Valadiers, Motown’s first all-white group, for their only hit. Written in the early ’60s, the song took on new meaning just a few years later when the Vietnam war and military draft started building momentum.
Producer “Mickey” Stevenson does a great job dressing up this homage to a draft notice as a ’50s love ballad. Singer Richard Street playfully teases the phrase “I need you,” adding new meaning to the words, while the playful backing vocals recall “Gomer Pyle”‘s Sergeant Carter. Although the song is humorous now, it was probably a lot less funny at the time.
Although the Monitors released a handful of singles for Motown between 1964-68, this was their highest-topping effort. Several members of the group held other jobs within the company. Street was a member of Berry Gordy’s Quality Control team, and a stand-in for Temptation Paul Williams, who was struggling with alcoholism at the time. Street ultimately replaced Williams in the Temptations when he was fired in 1971.The rest of the Monitors faded into obscurity before briefly resurfacing with a reunion album in 1990. – by Joel Francis