Tag Archives: Motown

Before Tammi Terrell, There Was Kim Weston

When most Marvin Gaye fans think about his singing partners, Tammi Terrell usually comes to mind. From 1967 until 1969, the duo recorded timeless performances—several of them written and produced by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson—including, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Your Precious Love, You’re All I Need to Get ByIf I Could Build My Whole World Around You, and Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing.

However, prior to being paired with Terrell, one of Gaye’s other musical partners was Kim Weston. Born December 30, 1939, Weston, a Detroit native, had been performing around the Motor City when a local songwriter named Johnny Thornton asked her to record some demo tapes. Thornton played them for his cousin, Eddie Holland, one of Motown’s producer/songwriters who would eventually become part of the label’s legendary songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland. She signed with Motown in 1961.

According to the AMG AllMusic Guide in 1963, Weston scored a minor R&B hit with Love Me All the Way, and, during the following year, recorded her first duet with Gaye, What Good Am I Without You. Unfortunately, Weston turned down a song that later became a smash hit for another Motown act. Gaye and producer William “Mickey” Stevenson wrote Dancing in the Street and offered her a chance to record the song. She said no. Martha Reeves, lead singer of Martha and the Vandellas, said yes and the rest is history. During the summer of 1964, Dancing claimed the number 2 position on Billboard’s Top 100 Chart and is described by the publication as one of the “most potent and enduring dance records of the era.”

It would be another year before Weston would have a top 10 hit as a solo artist–Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While) recorded in 1965. Her 1966 follow-up release, Helpless, was also popular among fans. That same year, she and Gaye recorded the album Take Two which featured It Takes Two and It’s Got to Be a Miracle (This Thing Called Love). I was happy to find the LP on one of my bookcases and was even happier to discover it contains What Good Am I Without You.  I heard it for the first time on the Internet last night and liked the song so much that I unpacked my record player so I could hear it again. It reminds me of Brook Benton and Dinah Washington’s Baby (You Got What It Takes). You listen and decide.

In 1967, Weston left Motown for MGM Records and recorded an album which included a stirring version of Lift Every Voice and Sing. In 1972, she performed the Black National Anthem at Wattstax, a daylong concert produced by Stax Records featuring many of the artists from the Memphis-based label. The event was held at the Los Angeles Coliseum to commemorate the Watts riots that occurred seven years earlier.

Thanks for reading this; please join me in Sounding Off by sharing your favorite Kim Weston song. I look forward to your response. I’d also like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a joyous holiday season!

Kimberly Vann

Disclaimers: All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Sounding Off makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. Unless otherwise noted, Kimberly Vann is the legal copyright holder of the original material on this blog and it may not be used, reprinted, or published without her written consent.

The Temptations: My Quintessential Quintet

My all-time favorite musical group is the Temptations. Although the lineup has changed over the decades,  Eddie Kendricks, Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, David Ruffin and Paul Williams (no relation to Otis) are the men that first come to mind.

At an early age, I learned how to play 45s on my parents’ Curtis Mathes console–the large floor model in the living room that contained a television, an am/fm radio and a record player. After going through everyone’s records, I compiled my own stack. The Way You Do the Things You Do, I Wish It Would Rain and I’ll Be in Trouble stayed on the turntable. My Girl came later. It was not unusual for my mother to find me on the floor with my head next to one of the speakers. I was hooked on the harmonies; the lyrics were easy to learn and I was mesmerized by the melodies.

As a high school student, my R&B tastes shifted to the Gap Band, the Jacksons, Parliament/Funkadelic, plus thanks to two FM stations, WDAI and WFYR, I was exposed to bands like Genesis, Foreigner and the Police. My musical horizons expanded, but the Temptations were never left behind. Listening to Richard Pegue’s “Best Music of Your Life,” first on WGCI-AM, then WVON, and Herb Kent’s weekend shows on V-103 introduced me to b-sides, album cuts and other gems: You’ve Got to Earn It , Born to Love YouAll I Need and I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You). I loved their five-part harmony as Eddie, Paul and David traded lead vocals on various selections. Remember the four-headed microphone?

As a grown woman, I savored the sight of five handsome, impeccably dressed men—all six feet tall—who danced flawlessly. I still do. Each member possessed his own distinctive style. Eddie had a soothing falsetto and a smile that could melt ice. David could ‘beg and plead for sympathy’ better than anyone else on vinyl. Melvin’s booming bass was authoritative, yet comforting. Otis was a strong and steady baritone/second tenor. And then there was Paul, my favorite Temptation.

Why Paul?  I’ll give you three reasons: Don’t Look Back, Just Another Lonely Night and  For Once in My Life. In the first two songs, Paul’s slightly hoarse vocals were cool, calm and confident. Yet, it was his emotional, show-stopping rendition of For Once in My Life on TCB, a 1968 television special with Diana Ross and the Supremes, that is considered by many, including myself, as Paul’s definitive performance. What made this ballad so powerful to me was his vulnerability, perhaps caused by the weight of the personal demons he battled. A couple years ago, I watched the video on YouTube and was moved to tears. Reading viewer comments, I realized I was not the only one who cried at the computer.

Thanks for reading this; please join me in Sounding Off by sharing your favorite Temptations song and which Temptation you liked the most. I look forward to your response.

Kimberly Vann

Disclaimers: All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Sounding Off makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. Unless otherwise noted, Kimberly Vann is the legal copyright holder of the original material on this blog and it may not be used, reprinted, or published without her written consent.