The Marvelettes

The Marvelettes Sing

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The least memorable of any album they ever recorded, the Marvelettes' second long-player, originally titled The Marvelettes Smash Hits of 1962, was rushed out in April of that year, not a month after most of it was recorded in a few fast sessions, to try extending the commercial life of the number 34 pop charting "Twistin' Postman." In keeping with the latter record (which also reached number 13 in the Billboard R&B listings) and the tastes of the times, there is a certain emphasis on "Twist" sides here, including a pleasing if unambitious rendition of Sam Cooke's "Twistin' the Night Away" -- apart from the Supremes' Sam Cooke tribute album of 1965, Motown didn't give a lot of play to Cooke's songs, so that makes this album a little more interesting than its music per se. The Marvelettes Sing also included their rendition of the Mary Wells number "The One Who Really Loves You," using the same backing track as Wells' record, and -- in a totally uncharacteristic moment for Motown -- there's a good cover of Cindy Walker's "Dream Baby," a song most closely associated with Roy Orbison, which closes the record. The 11 songs here don't capture the group at its best, having been cut as part of a flurry of activity in the wake of the number one hit "Please Mr. Postman" -- and to show how far they were from full-strength, Wanda Young, who sang lead on four of the songs, was pregnant at the time, which didn't stop her from handling those vocals (but may explain the absence of a cover photo). Still, for all of the relative weaknesses here -- or, more properly, the lack of specific strengths and moments of inspiration -- this is a fun record four decades on, more than a curio or a space-filler in their discography, and worth hearing more than once.

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