Browsing Tag Brenda Holloway

Euroyeye 20th Anniversary

Gijon, Spain- 31 July 4 August 2014

Hundreds of Mods and 60’s lovers from around the World have gathered in Gijon every summer for the last twenty years for this unique festival in the northern Spanish province of Asturias. This means a great deal to us so we put probably the best line-up in our history together to celebrate this milestone.

Thursday kicked off in style with a free live gig in the main square of the city with local Spanish Soul band Attica Revolution warming up the 4000+ people with a great mix of originals and covers before Motown legend Brenda Holloway hit the stage for the first time in Spain and blitzed the audience with a magnificent performance. Brenda played almost the same set as Modstock covering big hits ‘When I’m Gone’, ‘Every Little Bit Hurts’ and ‘You Made Me So Very Happy’ and underground hits ‘Reconsider’, ‘Starting The Hurt’ and ‘Crying Time’. Two encores brought the show to close eventually leaving many happy smiling faces waiting for more action.

In truth the festival already begun a couple of weeks before with various art exhibitions and 60’s cult films which are free to visit for a whole month visit the website www.euroyeye.es to view the full program. The first of four allnighters was a short walk away from the main square and after some tapas washed down with local sidra I was ready for one of the hottest bands around right now The Night Beats from Texas. A loud hypnotic beat pinned by the bass and drums with psychedelic guitars and a great front man whipped the crowd into a frenzy and all too soon for me it was over. The night continued with DJ’s doing a sterling job playing sounds from cross the 60’s spectrum.

Friday morning came around far too soon, the first Scooter cruise was a big buzz as usual. The scooters gathered at the open day at Laboral with Lambrettas and Vespas from all Spain (and a few from abroad including Marco & Steve Groves & Friends from Scooter Emporium) at midday to enjoy the live shows, djs, stalls and exhibitions. After the acoustic gig of Nolan Porter and Neil Jones the exhausts of more than 120 scoots begun to burn west towards what some said was the best sights they had ever had on two wheels. A couple of hours everyone came back to the LAB for the exper-i-mental  Rubayat live 8:2 set, something that has never been done before in our scene.

Doors opened at 10pm for the second allnighter with UK band Stone Foundation which many readers here are familiar with making their Spanish debut. Needless to say they won the crowd over with songs from the fantastic new album ‘To Find the Spirit’ before another US Soul legend Nolan Porter also making his Spanish debut joined them on stage playing his scene faves and choice covers. After the live music the allnighter was wild with two dancefloors and the best mod and 60’s music played by over a dozen DJ’s from around Europe.

Saturday morning at 11am we decided to meet at a fantastic new place, all the vintage scooters gathered in what we call “El Rompeloas” (“wave-breaking wall”), in the sports port with the luxury yachts and fishing boats making a great background for nice pictures. After lots of shots and beers the long love (and loud) caravan headed East towards a “walk & ride” called the Claretian Route, almost coming to a stop at very old pathways in the hills near Luanco. The ride finished at the posh Golf Club of Castiello for a vermouth and great Asturian lunch, price giving, raffle and yet more beers, wine and sidra. Lambretta Club of Spain annual meeting also took place with interesting news for members, some of them I know you will love and enjoy very soon (agree, Andy?).

Then it was off to The Battle of the Bands as Sala Acapulco. After watching 4 great bands the winners were Gamonides, they will record a single at Circo Perrotti studios for free as well as getting the support slot at the allnighter on Saturday night. The heavens opened with torrential rain from early evening into the early hours of Sunday morning making an interesting evening on the terrace at the Oasis. Our headline band from La Coruna Fogbound with Fernando from the Elephant band on Hammond gave a great performance with strong originals and great covers like the Artwoods ‘In the Deep End’ which was appropriate for the Oasis swimming baths. The allnighter afterwards was frantic and really crazy ending gone past 8am with lots of people asking for more… not me.

My brains showed me white flag on the Sunday so no scooter action for me. Any fragile souls will have had their bones and brain shocked to the core when Graham Day & the Forefathers hit the stage ripping through over thirty years of Prisoners, Prime Movers, Solarflares and Gaolers material. The Catalan support Los Retrovisores played a mix of US and Spanish Soul and Pop with clever covers and great arrangements of the scene classics. The last allnighter was a blast again with a short break for Mr & Miss YeYe which are always chosen for their party antics over the last four days. Worthy winners were Raul from Andalucía and Amanda from Brazil. Champagne popped and crowns and banners fixed and it was time to party like it was the last one ever at the Oasis. Dr Robert was scheduled to finish at 6am and after about 5 encores with Esther Phillips ‘Just Say Goodbye’ and The Animals ‘It’s My Life’ the songs I can remember, the party was over for another year.

A fantastic restaurant was booked for everyone Monday to enjoy the local dishes and Sideria before their journey home.

Join us next year from 31 July to 3 August 2015 for EURO YEYE 21.

Pictures by: Eva Lussina Lopez Guisaraga
More photos and news at: www.euroyeye.es

Many thanks to all sponsors and all the artists, bands, djs and everybody involved in the organisation or simply everybody that made it to the yeye in these difficult times to create this unique atmosphere.


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drrobert

I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: newuntouchables.com/rnbrecords for rare vintage vinyl.

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September 18, 2014 By : Category : Bands Clubs DJs Europe Events Front Page Music Reviews Scene Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Modstock 3 2014 Review

Modstock 3, 17 – 20 April 2014

What a weekender Modstock turned out to be! Even those of us lucky enough to be part of the ‘on site’ team here at Nuts HQ had no idea just how great the event would be.

It all began with Squire, The Apemen and Secret Affair headlining on the opening night on Thursday 17th

229 The Venue looked spectacular after its recent makeover. The sound quality in the main room has improved no end and the stage looks even more imposing than it did before.

As the doors opened to the sizable queue that waited patiently outside, you could sense something special was about to take shape. It wasn’t long before our MC and DJ for the evening, Eddie Piller, arrived on stage to introduce the first band.

For those of the ’79 Mod revival era, Squire were just one of the unsung heroes of that time. Their brand of catchy mod-pop may have gone un-noticed by the mainstream at the time, but it certainly gained a large and loyal following throughout the 80s.

Frontman and songwriter Anthony Meynell, got things underway with ‘It’s A Mod, Mod World’ followed by another classic, ‘Face Of Youth Today’.

The crowd didn’t take long to warm up as Squire ran through a selection of their best material. Needless to say, ‘Walking Down The Kings Road’ was one of the highlights for many, but the set was also a reminder of just how good a songwriter Anthony Meynell is. “September Gurls’, ‘Jesamine’, ‘Does Stephanie Know?’ and ‘B-A-B-Y Baby Love’ mod-pop gems one and all and a great way to get Modstock off to a flyer.

Next up, The Apemen from Germany. By contrast to Squire, The Apemen were full on rockin’, rollin’ R&B. They ripped through their set which included ‘Getting Closer’, ‘Mrs Applegate’ and ‘Desdemona’. At one point the lead singer decided to jump off the stage and join the crowd (which is not uncommon with The Apemen), all of which went down very well.

Then it was time for the headline act. I have seen Secret Affair many a time over the years and like all bands, I’ve seen them have good days and the odd not-so-good. This performance, however, was quite possibly the best I have ever seen from them.

There was Ian Page, all confidence and assured vocal delivery. Beside him, Dave Cairns, the electrifying bundle of controlled aggression on lead guitar. Backing them is a very fine and talented band.

Secret Affair’s set was effectively split in two. The first part included tracks from their most recent LP ‘Soho Dreams’ mixed in with a few covers, the crowd-pleasing ‘Do I Love You? Indeed I Do’ had everyone singing along.

As Page and Cairns left the stage, the band played an instrumental ‘Black Cat’ from the aforementioned LP and it served very neatly as an intermission before Page and Cairns returned to deliver the classics of yester-year. ‘My World’, ‘Time For Action’, ‘Let Your Heart Dance’, ‘Glory Boys’, ‘I’m Not Free (But I’m Cheap)’. It was a fitting end to a fantastic opening night of live music followed by Eddie Piller spinning discs until 2am.

After the show I spoke to Dave Cairns;

“We are very happy with the way it turned out. They were a great crowd and we were really enjoying it out there. I think everyone else did too.”

Friday 18 May was quite extraordinary in so many ways. I’ve seen queues outside 229 The Venue before, but not quite like this.

Neither had I ever met so many people, who had traveled hundreds of miles without a ticket, turning up an hour before opening to make sure they got one of the last remaining tickets for the Tamla Motown Night.

Once the doors opened and the main room filled very quickly, the atmosphere was something special. It was not long before the house band arrived on stage. Most of the band were made up from members of a cracking outfit called Speedometer. Joining them was ex-Style Council member Mick Talbot on keyboards.

The glamourous Brenda Holloway was next to arrive on stage, resplendent in her silver sequined dress and opening with ‘Just Look What You’ve Done’.

If there is one trait American entertainers have always been very good at, it is being able to work a crowd. They know how to establish a rapport very quickly and show a certain amount of class in the way they carry themselves on and off stage. They understand what being ‘a star’ means and what responsibilities come with that status. As Brenda’s set gathered pace with hits like ‘Operator’, ‘Reconsider’, ‘When I’m Gone’ and ‘Every Little Bit Hurts’, it was a joy to see a true professional at her craft enjoying the moment as much as the crowd were. She was in fine form and fine voice and she finished her set with an amazing rendition of a song she wrote with her sister Patrice, Frank Wilson and Berry Gordy; ‘You’ve Made Me So Very Happy’.

It was a huge hit for Blood, Sweat and Tears of course, but hearing Brenda sing it, the tune took on a new dimension. It was wonderful.

With barely a moment to catch our breath, the Velvelettes were on stage and more than matched the standard set by Brenda Holloway.

Polished without being corny. Professional without being kitsch.

Norma, Barbie, Cal and Millie gave the audience exactly what they wanted. ‘Lonely, Lonely Girl Am I’, ‘These Things Will Keep Me Loving You’, ‘Nowhere to Run’, Everybody Needs Love’ and of course, ‘He Was Really Saying Something’.

The Velvelettes again showed their presentation skills with a scintillating intro to the final song of their set. I hope the cameras were rolling because ‘Needle In A Haystack’ has to be heard to be believed.

They left the stage momentarily, but returned with Brenda Holloway to complete the finale with ‘I’ll Keep On Holding On’.

Afterwards I asked Mick Talbot for his views on the show?

“It was fantastic and a real privilege to play for these ladies. You know, they and Motown have been such a massive influence and presence in my life, it has been an honour. You never think for a second that one day you will be sharing a stage with people you have spent a lifetime listening to.”

I also managed to have a quick chat with Brenda Holloway. What did she think of the show?

“Oh it was wonderful! I love coming to the UK and singing for you guys. You never forget and you all seem to have such knowledge and appreciation of the music. It really is a special place and it has amazing fans. I would come back anytime to sing in the UK. It’s been just great.”

Saturday 19 April

229 The Venue was a hive of activity by midday as stall holders were preparing for an afternoon of trading in clothes, memorabilia and records.

The Beat Room was getting ready to host the Nutsmag Showcase session and outside, the Bar Italia Scooter Club was organizing the scooter rideout.

It is always an impressive sight watching well over 200 scooters moving off in unison to tour around London. When they completed their circuit, it was time to move into the Beat Room where yours truly was playing a selection of new sounds that have been reviewed on the Nutsmag website.

The two young bands on show have massive potential and Modstock was very pleased to present them. First was Alex Butler and The Opals. This was a rip-roaring set from the Geordie (plus one Italian) line up.

With songs like ‘Turn’, ‘Stole Her Away’, Come Out Of Your House’ and ‘***k it She Will Do’, it did not take long for the audience to warm to them, but Alex and his band got a well-deserved send off as they closed their set with ‘Bye Bye Love’.

The second band was The Turning. Where Alex Butler is more melodic new wave, The Turning are Beat and Rhythm and Blues, but in common with Alex Butler, there is a youthful energy and excitement about The Turning that has lifted their profile in recent months.

Their set included tracks from their debut EP; ‘Stand Clear Of My Mind’, ‘The Painful Art of Dreaming’ and ‘What You Think Is Right’. By the end of the set, the crowd demanded an encore and were treated to a red-hot rendition of ‘Gloria’.

A few hours break and it was back to the main room for the hotly anticipated ‘British Legends’ Night. Getting proceeding underway were the ‘house’ band Stone Foundation who played a selection of songs from their current album ‘To Find The Spirit’.

It is easy to see why they were chosen as the ‘house’ band. They are a very tight unit musically and with their brass section, they can produce an impressive wall of sound. Their brand of Northern, Jazz and Soul influenced tunes really left their mark and set things up nicely for the first of the legends.

Enter Eddie Philips, frontman of The Creation (with bow in hand) to take us through the classics; ‘Painterman’, ‘How Does It Feel’ and ‘Making Time’ among others. From my privileged vantage point, it was clear he was having the time of his life on stage and very humbled by the rapturous reception he received.

A short intermission was followed by the entrance of the one and only Kenney Jones at the drum kit. The man given the unenviable task of vocal duties was Jim Stapley. Having met him earlier in the day, I rather liked him.

However, his arrival on stage was met with some curious reactions as Jim’s appearance and stage presence was more rock than mod. After the first couple of numbers Jim spotted this dichotomy and made light of it with the audience who warmed to him afterwards.

That said, the set was a ‘greatest hits’ selection of Small Faces numbers and Mr Jones was clearly enjoying the experience. As the band left the stage at the end of the set, an encore was demanded and witnessing the discussions backstage was quite something. A reprise of ‘Tin Soldier’ brought the show to a close and the crowd seemed genuinely pleased. See another review HERE! with more videos.

Sunday 20 April

Another ‘early’ start for some of us! At 1pm I was at the entrance to the Pier on the South Bank to welcome those who had booked for the River Boat Party. The weather could have been better, but it didn’t dampen spirits one jot.

Once we were all aboard and underway, our DJs Lee Miller, Carlo Sesto, and Michael Wink got things going right from the get-go. The atmosphere was fantastic with a packed dancefloor throughout the afternoon and after we disembarked, it was nice to see the likes of Norman Jay MBE joining the fun.

With the Boat Trip concluded it was time to head back to 229 The Venue for the grand finale of the weekend.

That wrapped up the afternoon session, but it was not long before it was time to move to the main room for the Fashion Show curated by A Dandy in Aspic.

The assembled audience were thrilled by the show and gave all concerned a rapturous send off, see the fashion show article for in this edition for a in depth review. HERE!

There was a definite air of anticipation in the main hall as the room filled and I had the pleasure of introducing our first live act, The Mergers from Germany. As with all the bands across the weekend, The Mergers gave it their all playing tracks from their fantastic album ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’. Their hybrid sound of The Remains, early Beatles and British Beat made quite an impression on the crowd. They loved them.

Following them on stage were the equally marvelous Les Cappuccino from Japan with their Hammond-heavy grooves and unique visual style. They did not disappoint either.

Within minutes the stage was set for the Crossfire Allnighter. The main room was packed solid for ‘The Story Of Northern Soul’ provided by a line up of specialist DJs that has rarely been assembled before. To say the night was immense is an understatement. The Beat and R&B rooms were equally packed out until the early hours. Crossfire really is one of the great events of the year and this night reinforced that reputation.

So that was the end of Modstock 3, 2014. It was memorable for so many reasons and the highlights were too many to mention. I’ve read many other reviews and comments about the weekend. A small handful pointing out a couple of minor grumbles, but the overwhelming majority were very positive and glowing in their praise about the event.

It was a great weekend, a fantastic effort by Rob Bailey and the New Untouchables Team. Stuart and his staff at 229 The Venue and all the bands, DJs and Bar Italia SC who provided the entertainment and rideout and A Dandy In Aspic for the fashion show.

We hope you had a great time too.


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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July 4, 2014 By : Category : Bands DJs Events Front Page Music Reviews Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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NUTsCast – Modstock 3 Special

Welcome to the NUTsCAST Episode 10 and our Modstock special with NUTsMag Review’s Editor Graham Lentz.

Over the next hour Graham will talk you through our Modstock program, playing tracks from all the artists appearing alongside some selections from our international DJ line-up. To listen to the Podcast, click the play button in the left hand corner of the Podcast Player above! Et Voila!

 Music Running Order For NUTsCast

01. The Apemen – Love Train
02. Jack Hammer – Down In the Subway
03. Secret Affair – Black Cat
04. Eyes – You’re Too Much
05. The Velvelettes – Lonely, Lonely Girl Am I
06. Brenda Holloway – When I’m Gone
07. Eddie Jefferson – Psychedelic Sally
08. Otis Lee – Hard Row To Hoe
09. The Turning – Stand Clear Of My Mind
10. The Caretakers – East Side Story
11. Tommy McCook – Goldfinger
12. Stone Foundation – To Find The Spirit
13. Impressions – You’ve Been Cheatin’
14. Les Cappuccino – Madison Agent
15. The Mergers – All I Can Do
16. Eddie Parker – I’m Gone


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

March 7, 2014 By : Category : Front Page Music Podcasts Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Masters – Brenda Holloway

This entry is part 16 of 20 in the series Masters1

Beautiful, talented and possessor of one of the most soulful voices to grace the label, Brenda Holloway recorded sultry ballads and powerhouse dancers for Tamla Records between 1964 and 1967. With Brenda’s hugely anticipated appearance at Modstock fast approaching, she chatted to us about her experience of being a West Coast artist signed to the Detroit hit factory.

Are you looking forward to coming over to London for Modstock?

I’m very excited about this trip, I’m really happy, thank you for inviting me. And The Velvelettes, I look forward to being with them. Those are some beautiful sweet women. They were very nice to me when I went over to Motown. I like to do live shows because you can put more feeling in it. When you have a good crowd you can perform better. You feed off your audience, and they love you, so you have to do a good job.

I think British audiences have always taken you to their heart. Have you noticed that?

I have. When British audiences listen to the music it’s just an everyday thing for them but over here they don’t regard it as hit music because it’s not in the charts at that moment, so it’s a totally different feeling you get, like it’s back in the day when you first recorded those songs. They appreciate the artistry and they’re so happy to see us when we come over, it’s a treat for the artist.

Can you tell us how you came to sign to Motown?

I used to sing and was raised in Watts in Los Angeles and I had a group called the Watesians. This was five local girls who went to high school with me, including my sister Patrice, and we used to sing at Record Hops. When Hal Davis heard about the group and came to hear us. He took a liking to me and took me to a disc jockey’s convention in Los Angeles, at Coconut Grove. I had on this gold pantsuit and gold heels and was singing Mary Wells songs from room to room to every DJ. I sang from about ten o’clock until four o’clock and then said to Hal “Look, these heels, and this pantsuit, I’m getting tired”. There was this group of men that came in to the room, listened, and left. So when told Hal I wanted to go home they came back in. This man spoke out and said “I like what I see and I like what I hear and I want to sign you up”. I said “Sign me up to what?” and he said Motown and I was like “Oh my God!” I was so excited and said “Call my mum, call my mum, and tell her to put on her best clothes as I’m going to sign.” I didn’t ask her if I could, I was just going to do it, but I needed her to okay it. She got dressed up, looked so pretty, and I signed with Motown that day. I was seventeen years old. Berry Gordy told me there was one stipulation to this; I needed to graduate at high school before he’d let me put anything out.

The first record Motown put out was “Every Little Bit Hurts” in 1964 and it was a hit. Was that a surprise?

I was walking around in college, nobody ever noticed me before, but then everybody was like “Are you Brenda Holloway?” I said, yeah, I guess. They said “you have a record out”. I didn’t know, they didn’t tell me anything. They didn’t tell me when they were going to release it. It was only when everybody told me I had a record out, and I got all bashful, and everybody was on me at school. I just stopped going to school. I couldn’t study anyway; I was so excited to have a hit record. I did graduate from high school but not from college, but I later went back and got a degree in dental work.

How did you manage to get on the 1965 Beatles tour of the United States?

When the Beatles had their tour I spoke to Jackie DeShannon, who’d been on their tours overseas, and said “Please Jackie, can I get on the tour, I’ll do anything”. And they called me. I used to go to sleep listening to their records like “Eleanor Rigby”. It was so much fun. We had pillow fights in the air. And John would figure out the meals and say we could have whatever we want. See, I came from a family with one parent, my mother, raising us and we never got enough food, so when told I could have whatever I want, it was so wonderful. I had steak, I had string beans and I had mashed potatoes.

How were your performances received? Did the crowd like you or were they just waiting for the Beatles?

Really they were waiting for the Beatles to come on, I was too. But they did accept me, they clapped and they were happy, but you know, it was a Beatles tour. The crowd broke loose and just charged, the audience looked like cattle. We just threw wigs, and guitars, and everything, to get out of their way. We flew with the Beatles to each venue; they were so down to earth, such good guys.

You were a trained musician. Didn’t you play the violin and the flute and other instruments?

I was going to be a concert violinist before Motown invaded my life. I studied professionally. I just loved the violin. For the first twelve, thirteen, fourteen years of my life I was in orchestras and played symphonies. My boyfriend was my violin. I used to practice in the backyard and dogs would bark and people would be “Can you get off that squeaky thing?” My neighbours hated me. I had to practice outside as my Mum didn’t want to hear it either. But I could really play.

Did you play your violin on any of your records?

I played it on one of my albums, The Motown Anthology. A live version of “Summertime” recorded in Detroit in 1966. I played and I sang and it sounded really very well.

Motown got a good deal with you: you were a singer, a musician, a songwriter.

Yes but everyone at Motown was scared I was going to take their boyfriends. I already had a boyfriend in Los Angeles. I don’t like to have boyfriends at work; they just think they have power over you.

Were all the Motown guys hitting on you?

They were talking to me but I was like “Oh no, I don’t do that”. So they kind of left me alone. I went and practiced my violin by myself. Because I was from the West Coast and would fly in and be in a hotel room and they were doing their own thing.

Did it feel different being from the West Coast and then going up to Detroit? Did you feel any separation from the other artists based in Detroit?

They felt like I was another type of star because I didn’t come from their stable. The girls were kind of feeling I was going to be some kind of competition for them. But I just feel like I always had my own slot, you know. But I became very envious of them with their hits when I got there. Say, when I got to Detroit, they’d be cutting a session with me and if Gladys Knight flew in for just one night they’d cut my record on her, and I’d be like where’s my stuff? That would really upset me and disturb me because I wanted to get all my stuff done too. But I was so young and very inexperienced.

What was Smokey Robinson like to work with in the studio?

He was wonderful. He was very relaxed, he knew everything. Knew all the songs, he could sing them and show them to you. He would let you be yourself in the studio. I did “Operator” with him and “When I’m Gone”, which was a good song for me. If only I’d stayed in the studio with Smokey but I ran away.

At Motown some of the ladies had etiquette lessons and guidance from Maxine Powell. Did you have those?

Maxine showed me a lot of things about how to sit and stand but Berry actually sent me to charm school here in California for a whole year and a half. So although Maxine showed me a lot of stuff, because that was her nature, she just wanted you to be a lady at all times, the major stuff I learned out here.

Your clothes caused some comment as they were different, a bit more hip, than some of the other girls. Did you choose your own wardrobe?

I was so fortunate because my mother had a best friend who owned a dress shop so I dressed out of her store. She was able to go get everything I needed, everything to match, all the new stuff. When I went to Motown I had a full wardrobe and a lot of them didn’t, so it was “What is she trying to do?” I was just trying to sing but I had a lot of beautiful clothes.

I read Berry Gordy thought you were too sexy for British audiences which was why he wouldn’t let you tour over here.

For real? Oh my god, there’s no such thing as too sexy! That’s just somebody’s opinion. No such thing. I don’t know, they just labelled me like that but I never saw myself like that in any way. I was just regular. I didn’t think I was anything special, although evidently other people thought I was.

Did you know what songs you’d be recording when you got into the studio? Did you have much time to prepare or were you presented with them there and then to sing?

I don’t know what the other artists did but I liked to live with my songs. I would come in a week ahead and just stay there and go over and over and over the song until I could put me into it. That was why my songs had so much feeling because I lived with them before I ever went in the studio. Day and night, because I didn’t have any children, I didn’t have any connections with people in Detroit, so all I did was stay there and rehearse the tunes over. So if Smokey cut the record, and I cut the record, it would have a Smokey Robinson feel to it and a Brenda Holloway feel to it. I like to study my songs, I’m not Aretha Franklin, I can’t just go in and sing. My sister Patrice could hear something once and sing it but I’ve never been able to do that.

“Reconsider,” is a great song and one which is huge over here yet didn’t see a release at the time. When where you aware that song was so popular on the soul scene?

Oh, I love what you guys did to that. I only knew about it when I came over to the UK for the first time for the Northern Soul shows I was doing, because it had another title – “Think It Over” – in the United States, but you guys made it “Reconsider”. I like “Reconsider” better because that’s what the song was all about. And “Crying Time”, I forgot I ever did that. My nephew found it on YouTube. “Granny, did you cut this?”

My favourite is “Starting The Hurt All Over Again”. Such an adult narrative to that song and your delivery is so strong, so emotional.

Well thank you. I didn’t have a real happy childhood, you know, because my Mum she worked so hard, she was a single parent and my Father he had so many problems, but that was how I released all my energy was through my singing. If I had something to say I could convert it into a melody and sing it, so that’s how I released a lot of stress, even today. It’s good therapy for me.

“You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” was at the end of your time with Motown in 1967 and was a significant hit.

Oh it was a big hit. It sold over four million copies and is still selling. I wrote it with my sister and Frank Wilson, and Berry Gordy was the executive over everything. When I got stuck writing the bridge Frank Wilson was able to put that bridge in there. Berry and I fought in the studio; we were like back and forth. “I don’t want to do it like that Berry”. “You’re gonna do it like that”. The way I wanted to do it was the way Blood Sweat & Tears cut it. I put mine out, it was okay, but Blood, Sweat & Tears somehow got the idea and they really, really did that song justice. I’m really happy but when I go and sing it I have to try and remember how I sang it because theirs is bigger than mine and theirs is more familiar to me.

What prompted you to leave Motown?

Because I was just fed up with not having hits out and everyone around me were having hits. I didn’t have the foresight because I left the company in the middle of a Smokey Robinson session. I could have killed myself. He was cutting all these songs on me and I wanted a hit, like everybody else, but I didn’t have any patience. You know, there’s so much that goes along with the entertainment business backstage. You see a lot of other stuff that goes on that people don’t see and it kind of confuses you. I was a young kid.

After you left Motown what happened to your career?

I just laid it down. I went in the church, married a minister, and just left it and tried to do the best raising my kids but a lot of times we don’t think that if you have a talent you have to use it or it dies out. By me being in the church we have this stereotype of what we think God wants us to do but what he really wants us to do is to use that talent. Then I met this guy in the ‘90s, he was my boyfriend, and he said I needed to be back out there. So I started singing at this high school called Inglewood and then Brenton Wood – the “Oogum Boogum” man – came and he saw me and so I started touring with him. After that I just got back into it and have some friends overseas who were telling me about the Northern Soul and everybody started hooking me up and I did some things for Nightmare Records. So, I’m still singing and thank God I still have a voice and plan to use it as long as I can. It’s really wonderful. I’m just one of the other people until I get over there and I’m a superstar! I love it.

When you look back is there anything that sticks in your memory as highlight: a record, a concert, anything particularly special?

Cutting the album, Every Little Bit Hurts, where I did “I’ve Been Good To You” and “Unchained Melody” and those type of songs, that was one of the highlights, because I did that for my Mother. Then the other highlight was when I first went to Europe in the 1980s and Ian Levine and I wrote a song over the telephone and I really loved it, “Give Me A Little Inspiration”, it turned out so well. And when I first went to Motown and saw snow for the first time in my life and I saw Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Martha & The Vandellas, Diana Ross, Florence Ballad, Holland, Dozier and Holland, Smokey Robinson, Ivy Jo Hunter; that was like being in Disneyland. It was like, if I could just grab you guys and keep you with me. It was such a thrill to see The Temptations, The Four Tops, to see everybody in person. People told me I’d never get on Motown; I was three thousand miles away. When I got to Detroit and I saw the Motown family, it was just too much. It was awesome. So, my life has been beautiful.


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Mark Raison

I've spent three-quarters of my life wandering the mod path with detours down its side streets and dark alleys. From an enthusiastic youth to a still-enthusiastic-but-harder-to-tell grizzled old goat, I've dabbled in all parts of the scene from writing fanzines 'Round Midnight and Something Has Hit Me; to promoting bands; attempting to manage bands; singing in the mighty garage combo The Electric Fayre; putting on indie, psych and soul clubs including Freak Scene, Orange Sunshine, and Shake!; writing liner notes for Reg King releases on Circle Records; and, in fitter times, tucking away the odd goal for the New Untouchables. I still DJ from my box of R&B humdingers but more often you’ll find me tapping away on my blog at monkeypicks.co.uk. I like the poetry of Charles Bukowski and dislike the taste of cheese.

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March 7, 2014 By : Category : Front Page Interviews Music USA Tags:, , , ,
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Motown Spotlights – Brenda Holloway

Born in California on 21 June 1946, Brenda Holloway grew up in Los Angeles and studied the violin at school, as well as singing at the local Church with her younger sister Patrice.

Recording for the first time whilst still a teenager she came to the attention of record shop owner Kent Harris who brought Brenda to the attention of Bob Keane, the head of Del-Fi Records. He was so impressed with the precocious youngster’s talent to have her record ‘Echo’ for the Donna label in 1962.

The same label later released ‘I’ll Find Myself A Guy’ by The Wattesians, an all-girl group put together by Hal Davis and featuring Brenda. The group provided backing vocals to the likes of Johnny Rivers and Ike & Tina Turner when they performed in the Los Angeles area.

The following year (1963) found Brenda virtually ever-present in the studio, recording various songs produced by Hal Davis with the exception of ‘Every Little Bit Hurts’, which was written and produced by Ed Cobb for potential release on Del-Fi but subsequently held back.

It was Hal Davis who helped get Brenda something of an audition for Berry Gordy, at which she sang a version of Mary Wells’ ‘My Guy’. Suitably impressed with her vocal abilities (and, it is said, equally taken by the tight fitting gold outfit she wore), Berry offered a recording contract on the proviso Brenda graduate from high school first. Her first Motown session saw her re-record ‘Every Little Bit Hurts’ somewhat differently. The flip side was to be ‘Land Of A Thousand Boys’, a song written by Brenda herself. Released on the Tamla label in 1964, the single would go on to become the biggest West Coast produced single for the Motown group of labels at the time, finally reaching Number 3  in the R&B chart and Number 13 in the Pop chart.

Its progress up the chart was helped by Brenda appearing on the Motortown Revue and Dick Clark’s ‘American Bandstand’, subsequently going out on the road as part of Clark’s ‘Caravan Of Stars’ tour that summer (unbeknown to Brenda, her presence on the tour helped get The Supremes the kick-start their career needed, for so keen had Dick Clark been to get Brenda on board, he accepted Esther Gordy-Edwards imposing The Supremes on the tour as part of the deal). As the tour progressed, so The Supremes’ record ‘Where Did Our Love Go’ moved up the charts and the group moved up the roster, displacing Brenda in the process.

However, the success of ‘Every Little Bit Hurts’ had given Brenda a toe-hold on chart material herself, resulting in her similarly Ed Cobb penned follow-up ‘I’ll Always Love You’ also making something of a dent on the Pop chart. Motown also rush released an album, ‘Every Little Bit Hurts’ in the wake of this success, with all but one of the twelve tracks being recorded in Los Angeles, the exception being the Clarence Paul production ‘A Favor For A Girl (With A Lovesick Heart)’ that was recorded on Brenda’s first trip to Detroit.

The album followed the then standard Motown formula; a hit or two, a few originals, a few covers from the Jobete catalogue and a couple of standards. Brenda’s voice stood out, particularly on the ballads. Her star was seemingly on the rise, helped by the sudden departure of Mary Wells for a contract with 20th Century; Berry Gordy quickly announced plans to make Brenda Holloway the new female star at Motown.

Gaining access to the same pool of writers and producers who had helped get Mary Wells to the top, including Smokey Robinson, who would write and produce ‘When I’m Gone’, a song originally intended for Miss Wells.

Brenda’s version made it to both the Pop and R&B charts and saw Brenda back on the road again, this time supporting The Beatles on their debut US tour.

The failure of the Berry Gordy penned ‘You Can Cry On My Shoulder’ to make a proper impact, followed by ‘Together ‘Til The End Of Time’ also missing out on the charts convinced Brenda that her career was not exactly as she envisaged, especially when her scheduled second album ‘Hurtin’ & Cryin’ was canned.

In March 1967 Brenda with her sister Patrice began writing work what would go on to become one of the most valuable songs in the company’s catalogue. ‘You’ve Made Me So’ was a very successful 45, returning Brenda to the Top 40, but Brenda had decided she was no longer a priority in the Gordy empire and left Motown. Her name made a return when the UK arm of Motown, Tamla Motown issued a compilation album, ‘The Artistry Of Brenda Holloway’ in October 1968 an LP that would go on to be one of the rarest vinyl LP’s for collectors and has just been released on CD by Ace Records for the very first time.

Brenda would return to the recording studios in 1972 for Holland-Dozier-Holland’s Music Merchant label but again another whole LP of music went unreleased. Brenda was one of several former Motown artists to record for Ian Levine and his Motorcity label. Her most recent recordings saw her perform with Cliff Richard on his ‘Soulicious’ concept album.

Brenda still performs magnificently to this day and we are delighted to have her come to London for the Tamla Motown Revue at Modstock next Easter. More info here: www.newuntouchables.com


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drrobert

I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: newuntouchables.com/rnbrecords for rare vintage vinyl.

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November 25, 2013 By : Category : Articles Front Page Music USA Tags:, , , , , , , , ,
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