Just Look What You've Done - Brenda Holloway
Due to the general busyness in my life (or possibly idleness) I find myself, in June, still remembering
those who died during the last annual post-yuletide spate of grim reaper visitations (see previous posts on Ronnie Spector and Sydney Poitier).
One of Motown's lesser known employees was songwriter R Dean Taylor, who is best known for his US and UK 1970 hit "Indiana Wants Me", and who died last January 7th. Unusually amongst Motown's songwriting cadre, he was white, a Canadian from Toronto. In 1964, the 25 year old singer/songwriter signed a contract to work for Motown after an audition with Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier of the legendary Motown songwriting production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. Under their collective wing, he worked with the team as they wrote and produced hit after hit for the Supremes and the Four Tops in what was to become Tamla Motown golden era, assisting in production, filling in with the Funk Brothers on the recordings, usually on tambourine, but occasionally on acoustic guitar, and making uncredited key contributions to the lyrics or music of classic tracks such as "Standing in the Shadows of Love" and "Seven Rooms of Gloom". By 1967 he was contributing enough to get co-writing credits on songs for the Tops and the Supremes, as well as Marvin Gaye, the Temptations and the Marvelettes, as well as minor Motown performers such as Chris Clarke and Barbara McNair.
One such was Brenda Holloway, a typical example of the many artists who left Motown towards the end of the sixties, having found themselves not prioritised in favour of the label's major stars. And this is classic Motown second string material but none the worst for all that. Co-written by Frank Wilson and Taylor, features the distinctive sound of the Funk Brothers, here in particular Benny Benjamin's driving beat, and Eddie Willis' chunky hip-trembling guitar riffs, that glorifies the label's underground classics. And the yearning, earthy desperation of the lyrics that became an R Dean Taylor trademark as he honed his songwriting skills in the Detroit "Hitsville USA" studios:
"for you our love was just a passing thing
But to me, my darlin', it was everything..."