Just a Little Misunderstanding - the Contours
Having talked about typical Motown in yesterday's post, I thought I'd include a couple of "ordinary" Motown tracks, just to give the flavour of that uniques sounds. Just a Little Misunderstanding was a minor hit in both the US in 1966 and the UK in 1970. The Contours are not a well-known group having had one major hit back in 62 with the iconic "Do You Love Me? " In short they were a journeyman group, used as support to the big names on Motown tours, and getting the leftovers in terms of songs, songwriting teams and producers after the label's big stars had been given the best material. So here we go: the song's ordinary, the Funk Brothers could be forgiven for just putting in their hours, and some of the top musicians haven't bothered to turn up. Not for them the top Motown songwriter producers such as Holland Dozier Holland or Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong or Smokey Robinson. Here we have the team of Clarence Paul and Morris Broadnax (who?) - not one of Detroit's most famous partnerships - augmented by the 16 year old Stevie Wonder who also plays drums. The bass line is pretty traditional which means James Jamerson is unlikely to be playing, so we could be forgiven for not expecting much. But this shows the power of the Corporation ethos and why Motown is so great. Right from the very first notes, with the funky piano and drum intro, to the opening lines which are a pure Smokey situation, and the driving rhythm which reminds us of the great Holland Dozier holland work with the Four Tops and others
"It's a cold man to hurt his woman
and watch her walk away crying
when all along he knows he's wrong
to be so hard on a woman that's trying"
and we're away on an irresistible must-dance journey as Joe Stubbs (yes ex - Falcons - see earlier post - and brother of Four Tops Levi) soulfully tries to negotiate his way back into his girl friend's good books. Like Eleanor and Fred (and the 338,000 plus people who've listened to it on youtube), there's no way she can hold out against a groove as persuasive as this!
The point being that a lot of the ordinary workaday Motown tracks are this good, which is why it was the most successful record label of the sixties if not all time.