“In my lonely room – UK Tamla Motown singles Part 2: Stateside”
After beginning to make bigger leaps into the UK record buying markets in 1963, the Tamla / Motown / Gordy group found themselves under the umbrella of the EMI subsidiary label, Stateside in October of the same year. Stateside was formed in mid 1962 by EMI to release singles under licence from American labels such as Swan, Wand and Vee-Jay in a similar style to Decca records very successful London American imprint. Licensing tracks from many independent USA labels ensured Stateside released a whole slew of great current rhythm’n’blues and soul releases, and the label soon endeared itself to mods and soul fans on this side of the Atlantic. As well as having hits with Freddy Cannon and Gene Pitney, early releases included such stellar names as The Isley Brothers, Jimmy Reed, Chuck Jackson and The Shirelles. When Oriole’s UK contract with Motown ran out the previous month the new distributor launched its first release on Stateside on 11th October 1963 with Martha and the Vandellas all time classic “Heatwave” (SS228). When sales were quite brisk, the label then released three more singles the following month by Little Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells and Marvin Gaye’s fantastic “Can I get a witness” (SS243).
By January 1964 Motown was causing quite a stir on these shores, being regularly name checked by the UK’s biggest pop combo, The Beatles, who took Mary Wells on tour with them and mentioning Motown artists numerous times in interviews. Add to this the burgeoning underground mod and soul club scene which was hungry for the dance floor friendly sounds coming out of Detroit and it wouldn’t be long before Stateside had a bona-fide hit single on their hands. Between January and April 1964, no less than twelve 45’s were released in the UK, including tracks by The Miracles, The Marvelettes and debut UK releases from The Temptations, “The way you do the things you do” (SS278), and the group that would soon hit the top spot, The Supremes “When the lovelight starts shining thru his eyes (SS257). On May 8th 1964 Stateside released a hook laden single written by Smokey Robinson, and it was sung by Motown’s number one lady of the time, Mary Wells, “My Guy” (SS288). Two weeks later, on the 21st May 1964, “My guy” entered the UK charts at number 37, finally hitting the heady heights of number 5 the following month. Berry Gordy’s company had now scored their first of many big hit singles in Britain.
Between May ’64 and March 1965 Stateside issued a further 30 singles, including debuts from The Velvelettes, Earl Van Dyke, Four Tops and Kim Weston. Most of these were steady sellers, with titles by Marvin Gaye, Martha and the Vandellas, Mary Wells and The Temptations all scoring top fifty placings. On 28th August, and eight months after their initial flop, The Supremes “Where did our love go” (SS327) was released to an impressed public, who bought the single in droves, sending it number three in the chart. Less than two months later, and capitalising on the nation’s newfound love with the sounds from Motor City, “Baby love” (SS350) was released and hit the top spot soon after, with the group actually having two songs in the top ten at the same time for one week in October! Unfortunately not all releases were massive hits and some are now hard to find. These always sell for good prices when they appear on the market, especially in mint condition. Martha & The Vandellas “In my lonely room” (SS305), Brenda Holloway “Every little bit hurts” (SS307), The Tempations “Why you wanna make me blue” (SS348), Earl Van Dyke “Soul stomp” (SS357), Kim Weston “A little more love” (SS359), Four Tops “Without the one you love” (SS371), Carolyn Crawford “When someone’s good to you” (SS384) and Tony Martin “Talkin’ to your picture” (SS394) are probably the hardest to find, especially the last two. Also coming with a ridiculous price tag, all the Stateside EMI singles were sent to pluggers and radio DJ’s as red and white label demonstration discs and all are extremely collectable, and valuable too!
EMI was also loved to release EP’s and hundreds of them were released across their labels from the early ’50’s to the late ’60’s. After no EP releases on Fontana or Oriole, Stateside bit the bullet and released no less than five of them in the time they were licensing material. Little Stevie Wonder was afforded the only single artist EP, “I call it pretty music but old people call it the blues” (SE1014) which is ridiculously hard to find. There were also four editions of a cracking new EP series, concentrating on material otherwise unavailable in the UK on 45, “R & B Chartmakers”. The series featured some great tracks, including two stellar previously USA only releases from Eddie Holland, “Just ain’t enough love” and “Leaving here”, all came in amazing picture sleeves too. Although steady sellers they’re hard to find in great condition nowadays, expect to pay between £50-£100 for each of them. By March 1965 the label was as big, if not bigger than Atlantic over here in the UK so it came as no surprise that, with a little help from super fan Dave Godin, Berry Gordy signed an exclusive deal with EMI to set up a brand new record company in Britain, Tamla Motown records. On 19th March 1965, clad in an iconic orange and white company sleeve, record stores took release of a new disc, TMG 501, “Stop! in the name of love” by The Supremes and the rest, as they say, is history.
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