Shorty Long – Here Comes The Judge

Shorty Long - Here Comes The Judge

I’m returning to an all-time classic today in the shape of Shorty Long’s “Here Comes The Judge”. Released on the Soul label (which was part of Motown) in 1968 this record was one of a number of “Judge” tracks cut around the same time. The first of these came from comedy singer Pigmeat Markham also in ’68, although today’s “version” is different, it was undoubtedly inspired by Markham’s “original”.

I’ve got a number of these different “versions” by various artists but I still have a fondness for Shorty’s version as it was the first one I heard and although somewhat overplayed now, it’s still just a fun, great danceable record. I hope you enjoy the track and it brings back a few memories for you (like it did for me)

Earl Van Dyke – 6 By 6

Earl Van Dyke - 6 by 6

With the Snap! reunion just around the corner (this Friday actually) I thought I’d dig into my crates and pull out a track that used to be a bit of a staple on the mod scene and a record that had it’s fair share of plays over the years at Snap!

Those of you who know their Motown history will undoubtedly have heard of the legendary hammond organ player Earl Van Dyke. Van Dyke was the bandleader of the legendary Funk Brothers and his organ playing was an integral part of the sound featured on such tracks as The Temptations “Run Away Child, Running Wild” and Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”. As well as performing the soundtrack to those monster hits, Van Dyke recorded some of his own compositions, this one being arguably his most well-known.

6 by 6 must rank as one of the funkiest pieces of music ever put out by Motown records – with the driving bongos, horn section & hammond assault whipping up a piece of dancefloor dynamite! If you can’t make it to Snap! on Friday at least you’ve got a little teaser of the groove we got going on. Enjoy!

Gladys Knight & The Pips – I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Gladys Knight & The Pips - I Heard It Through The Grapevne   So I’m back from my trip to London and I had a great time as usual. The main reason I was there of course was to see the mighty Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings at The Roundhouse. It was my first time seeing the group and they certainly didn’t disappoint! Sharon’s performance was fantastic and what made it even more impressive was the amount of energy she was able to give to the show despite her very recent illness.

The next day I somewhat unexpectedly became aware of a Motown exhibition in the nearby Proud Camden in Camden Stables. This was a pictorial showcase of Motown through the ages and their numerous visits to Britain beginning way back in 1965 right through to the early 80s. Many of the photos are previously unseen and are available to buy, however their price exceeds my budget so I was more of an interested spectator than buyer.

These two events have therefore provided the inspiration for this week’s selection. As everyone knows, Gladys Knight was one of the biggest stars on the Motown label and during her show, Sharon Jones paid homage to her with a rousing cover of her take on “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”. Now I’m pretty sure everyone on Earth has heard Marvin’s version but what surprised me was how few people knew of Gladys Knight’s. What makes it even more surprising is the fact that Glady’s version was actually released a year or so before Marvin’s classic (and a year or so after Smokey Robinson’s rejected version) and is therefore the “original” release of the song, something that many are unaware of. It’s hard to compare it to Marvin as his is one of the great soul records, but Gladys certainly puts her own stamp on it and produces something a little more uptempo & “funky”. Enjoy!! 

The Miracles – Mickey's Monkey

Bobby Rogers

This week’s song choice has been brought about once again by the passing of another one of the soul greats – Mr Bobby Rogers. There may be some of you out there who don’t know of Bobby, but I’m pretty sure all of you will be aware of at least some of his music as he was one of the founding members of The Miracles.

Rogers  was born in Detroit in 1940 – ironically on the exact same day, in the exact same hospital as his future band mate, Smokey Robinson. Together they would go on to form The Miracles – one of Motown’s most successful acts. The release of “Shop Around” in 1960 gave Motown its first big hit – in fact it was the first single to sell one million copies.

As well as performing with The Miracles, Rogers also co-wrote songs alongside Smokey, including The Temptations “The Way You Do The Things You Do”, The Contours “First I Look At The Purse” (a big mod favourite) and some of The Miracles’ own hits.

The song we bring you today is one of my favourite Miracles tunes – it’s not particularly rare, in fact I’d say it’s one of their most well-known songs, but it just sums up for me all that was great about the Motown sound at that stage (1963) For those of you that haven’t seen it, I highly recommend checking out the youtube video of The Miracles performing this on the Ready Steady Go! Motown special in 1965. As well as The Miracles, it also features Stevie Wonder, Earl Van Dyke, Martha & The Vandellas, The Supremes and The Temptations.

R.I.P. Bobby, gone but not forgotten.