Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mable, Sammy & Motown

Mable John & Sammy Ward - I'm Yours, You're Mine

Sometimes a little rough-hewn early soul is just what the doctor ordered for your ever-lovin' Stepfather of Soul, and today's selection has been getting a lot of play in the car and on the iPod lately. It's a great piece of the rougher-edged material that Berry Gordy tried out as he attempted to find his niche in the record business at the dawn of the '60s, and it brings together two of the label's first acts. Mable John started her recording career as the first female artist on Berry Gordy's nascent Tamla label, although her best-known work would come later in the '60s for Stax (where she recorded her lone hit, "Your Good Thing (Is About To End)," which Lou Rawls would take to greater heights later on) and as the leader of the Raelettes for many years. "Singin'" Sammy Ward was bound to be a footnote in the history of the label, but his bluesy, gospel-tinged numbers are some of my favorites from the early Motown catalog, hence his prior appearance on the blog and in an episode of the podcast.

"I'm Yours, You're Mine" was a duet that was left in the can until the CD era, when it made appearances on various comps, including the great Mable John set My Name Is Mable, pictured above. I guess the goal was to get a Brook Benton-Dinah Washington kind of thing going on with the record, but Sammy's undisciplined, soulful shouting certainly undermined such a premise. Instead you get a hot piece of R&B-turning-the-corner-into-soul with a nice beat and Mable providing a nice "cool" sound to counter Ward's intense singing, and it really works. Dig the part in the coda where Ward loses the key of the tune by overdoing his "nothing come between us" ad-lib. That's real soul, folks!

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