So Monday celebrated one Motown Girl Group classic on it’s 45th birthday, and today another song released two days later, an equally (and to a few critical ears the better of the two classic) timeless song appeared.
Martha & The Vandellas
“Nowhere to Run” (1965)
Recorded on October 21st, 1964 but held from release. The policy of Motown was normally to award the producer of the last hit single the next single release, as Mickey Stevenson gave the Vandellas the massive hit of “Dancing In The Streets” so his “Wild One” was given the first shot. When it stalled in the outer reaches of the Top 40 during Christmas 1964, “Nowhere To Run” (written by Holland Dozier Holland) was chosen as the next release.
(Along with “Stop! in The Name of Love” the first TV debut of the song was on the Sounds of Motown BBC Special hosted by Dusty Springfield in mid February, 1965)
Appropriately the song was in the same towering horn laden sound pattern as the last two Vandellas hits (that represented their 2nd stylistic period… or their “Dance Party” period. A cursory listen of at least a dozen songs the Vandellas cut at the time that remained unreleased were similar), but it was undeniably innovative, from sliding snow chains in the time with the Tambourine accents and rather playfully, the taunting saxophone line that has more in common with New Orleans Honky Tonk jazz than straight forward mid 1960s R&B.
It’s also one of the last times that the Vandellas had a single release unassisted by The Andantes, which in my opinion did a disservice to all Girl Groups at Motown’s unique identities.
So the question is, since “Nowhere To Run” only made it to R&B#5 Pop#8 by the spring of 1965 (although regionally higher) why celebrate it as much as the #1 smash camp classic mentioned 2 posts/days back?
Because along with that song it represents one of the finest recorded moments in a Legendary labels history and also one of the best moments in Pop music.
Albeit this one far less campy and… well, melodramatic.