15-20-25 (and the Power of The Marvelettes)


Another one of those imports from LiveJounal, About The Marvelous Marvelettes

So I seem to be getting to Anniversary posts about Motown 50th things a little delayed, Yesterday being the day that The Marvelettes “Please Mr. Postman” was released to the world, in the height of Camelot, The height of Kennedy-esque optimism about the future, The first wave of the Girl Group Phenom, which The Marvelettes were technically only the 4th Black Act to really “break through” out of the Ghetto of R&B and into the mainstream, pop, middle class arena of Pop music, and impact our collective imaginations

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*(The others, in Order, The Bobbettes with “Mr. Lee”, The Chantels with “Maybe” and The Shirelles with their Quartet of Top 40 hits in late 1960-early 1961)*

The Marvelettes, from this point, of recording a plea that more than a million assertive teenagers took a love to in the Fall of 1961 (from it’s release date in late August, the song didn’t peak until a week or two after Thanksgiving in December, 1961). The Marvelettes, were allowed to grow up through all of the stages of adolescence through adult hood, from 15 (the realistic age of Gladys Horton when she recorded the song in the Spring of 1961, and the instrumental similarities to The Supremes “Buttered Popcorn”, recorded in the same area) Through dealing with adult concerns of “Too Many Fish In The Sea” and “Danger, Heartbreak Dead Ahead” come around 20, and the complexities of romance that date our mid 20s and the rest of adulthood like “Rainy Morning” and “Marionette”

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Most musical acts don’t get to “grow up” on record. Even Their Motown labelmates, regardless of gender (especially if you compare them to their natural label rivals The Supremes and Martha & The Vandellas, and to a lesser extent The Velvelettes), You didn’t “grow up” with them, since most other Motown Acts, save Stevie Wonder had their major breakthrough closer to their 18th, if not 20th, birthday, Hell…Florence Ballard could legally drink in any state by the time “Where Did Our Love Go” hit #1

The diversity of “experience” that The Marvelettes displayed on record, noting how romance without finance doesn’t work (My Daddy Knows Best), how career can come in the way of finding love (Here I Am Baby) or just how stalking backfires (Hunter Gets Captured By The Game) makes them relevant on a deeper level than history gives them credit for.

Sure they didn’t have a consistent “sound” (but if you break down The Supremes and The Vandellas, they had various “styles” and “sounds”) Sure they weren’t the “greastest” singers (although the straightforward grittiness of Gladys Horton makes her one of Motown’s first “homegirls” to tell it like it is, Wanda Young the sexy, seductive torch carrier into the girl group field of jazz singers like Billie Holiday and R&B/Jump Blues singers like Little Esther, and the “untrained” background call and response far more authentic in a “girl talk” sense that is at heart of the girl group phenom). But in the innate complexity of their sound, the variety of material they recorded makes them worth an extensive listen and enjoyment.

I purchased my first exclusively Marvelettes purchase at the age of 15 (ironically around the same time Gladys Horton recorded “Please Mr. Postman”) after being familiar with the hits that they had, thanks to KDIA….and got deeper, and some of my absolute favorite songs of all time come from that, as I get older and want a little bit of myself to stay “Young and in Love” or have patience for that “Good Guy(Yes He Is)” or make little new discoveries that make getting a bit older a bit easier like “Little Girls Grow Up”.

They aren’t in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame yet. But The will always be in mine…Forever

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1 Comment

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One response to “15-20-25 (and the Power of The Marvelettes)

  1. Nice sentiments in your blog. The Marvelettes are in my list of favorite groups.

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