I had been thinking of what track to bring you last week for this week’s update when news was filtering through to Gazfunk HQ of the passing of one of Northern Soul (and Motown’s) most legendary figures, Mr Frank Wilson.
I’m sure those of you that have even a passing interest in the Northern Soul scene will doubtless be aware of Frank’s huge anthem “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)” which became one of the most sought after soul 45s among collectors and subsequently became the most valuable soul record ever purchased when it sold a number of years back for the huge sum of £25,000!
Frank’s musical journey came somewhat earlier though when living in Los Angeles he joined a gospel group called The Angelaires. After this he released a small number of singles under various names that flopped. When Berry Gordy decided to open an office in L.A. Wilson came on board and “Do I Love You” was due to be released, however after a conversation with Gordy it was decided that the release would be cancelled due to Wilson having more of an interest in songwriting & producing rather than a career as an artist in his own right. A small number of copies were pressed before production was stopped and this was to lead to the record becoming so highly sought after (something that Wilson was totally oblivious to)
Wilson’s career then moved on at a pace upon relocating to Motown’s headquarters in Detroit where he wrote and produced records for artists such as The Temptations, The Four Tops, Martha & The Vandellas, Marvin Gaye & The Isley Brothers. Today’s selection is a single that he produced for Motown’s biggest hitmakers – The Supremes.
This release was something of a change for the Motown label – where previously the records were squeaky clean 3 minute pop tunes that appealed to a white audience, by the late sixties things in the U.S. had changed. Music became more political amid the racial tension & the controversy surrounding the Vietnam war and Motown was beginning to lose touch with people who were listening to messages by the likes of Curtis Mayfield.
Their response was Love Child – a commentary on life in “the ghetto” (and in particular illegitimacy) that they had previously shied away from. The song was to be a smash hit and became The Supremes 11th U.S. number 1 (and in doing so knocked The Beatles “Hey Jude” off the top spot). It’s songs like this that will ensure that Frank Wilson’s legacy will continue to endure.
Do we love you? Indeed we do…