Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Looking Back: 1961-1964
Genres: Pop, R&B, Rock
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None Better Than This One
D.V. Lindner | King George, VA, USA | 09/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Why, oh why, did Motown keep this excellent set available for such a very brief time? It is, without question, the single best gathering of Wells' Motown work that was ever put out. It was essentially dropped when the company instituted its `Ultimate Collection' line, and Wells' set there is fine, but 43 tracks by Mary will always be better than a mere 25. "Looking Back" was basically only available for five years. I've had it since 1994, but if I didn't, I wouldn't hesitate to buy it now - used - and that's my advice to you."Looking Back" gives a wonderful example of the different styles used to showcase Miss Wells by, essentially, four different producers: Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, William Stevenson and Holland-Dozier-Holland. If you know even the least about Wells, you know the Robinson productions were certainly the most commercially successful. Indeed, "My Guy," "Two Lovers," "You Beat Me To The Punch" & "The One Who Really Loves You," are perfect vehicles for Mary's seductive and fragile voice, and now, even forty years later, have not aged one bit. However, they are the most readily available of Mary's songs, not only here, but basically every other hits package that has been done on her. It is all the OTHER hidden treasures that "Looking Back" included that make it so very indispensable. It's been written that Berry Gordy felt betrayed and profoundly upset at Mary Wells' abrupt defection from the company in the spring of 1964, and in the wake of her biggest hit ("My Guy"). (Indeed, it was the first publicly known court battle between a Motown artist and the company.) The truth of that is suggested by the fact that Gordy - always commercially minded - allowed no lame-duck single releases on Motown after she was signed with 20th Century Fox Records. In my opinion, a superb follow-up rested right inside the "My Guy" (June 1964) LP, and is included in this set too: the William Stevenson-produced, "Does He Love Me?" With Wells voice just sultry enough, just shy enough, and backed up with both male and female backgrounds (probably a mix of the Andantes & the Love-Tones), "Does He Love Me's" engulfing three-minute spell would have been the perfect summer-of-'64, Mary Wells single.Two other songs, "One Block From Heaven," and the more popularly known "You Lost The Sweetest Boy," suggest that Holland-Dozier-Holland were only beginning to discover the gold they might have mined with Wells. Both songs were up-tempo dance stomps, a decidedly different singing approach for Wells that she handles confidently and with aplomb. Hopefully, before we, her first generation of fans check out for good, Motown will release all the work this legendary trio ever did with Wells.BUT...it has also been stated elsewhere, that in the middle of 1964, when the rise of the Supremes began, via five back-to-back No. 1 singles, the company's promotion efforts increasingly narrowed themselves toward Diana Ross, Mary Wilson & Florence Ballard. (*Trivia: Ross's voice is unmistakable in the background chorus of "You Lost The Sweetest Boy.") Other Motown artists, especially female ones (Martha Reeves, the Marvelettes, Kim Weston, Brenda Holloway, etc.), found themselves stumbling in the wake of the juggernaut that was the Supremes success. One should at least allow for the possibility that, had Wells not left the company, she too might have felt her fame suffer some of the same eclipse. We'll never know for sure.What you CAN know for sure, again, is that the best of Mary's four-year association with Motown is to be found in the two discs that comprise "Looking Back." Maybe someday Motown will out-do it, but until they do, this is the one to seek and find, any way you can."
Most Comprehensive Collection of Wells' music
James E. Bagley | Sanatoga, PA USA | 04/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mary Wells was Motown's first solo star. As a vocalist, she was pretty mediocre, yet often engaging, particularly when produced by Smokey Robinson. During her four years at Motown she charted 13 recordings, the most significant being "My Guy," "Two Lovers," and "You Beat Me To The Punch." All 13 are here, along with non-charting b-sides and numerous album tracks. Of great interest to the Motown collector is the 11 previously unreleased recordings. The most noteworhy find is a lovely duet by Wells and Robinson on "I Want You 'Round" from 1963. "Forgive and Forget" and "My Heart Is Like A Clock" (the latter co-written by Wells and Robinson) also sparkle.These 43 recordings, on two discs, easily make up the most comprehensive collection on Wells to date. The recordings are finely remastered in their original mono glory and there is also a 20 page, photo-filled booklet which features an engrossing article on Wells by Marvin Gaye biographer David Ritz. LOOKING BACK is a first-rate package in every way."
Laurence Upton | Wilts, UK | 01/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It may be hard to find now but this is still the most comprehensive collection of Mary Wells' work for Motown. Mary Wells had 10 singles out on the label between 1961 and 1964, plus a duet with Marvin Gaye, and all of them are here, plus most of their B-sides. She also put out quite a few studio albums, and these are all represented: Bye Bye Baby, I Don't Want To Take A Chance (1961)(5 tracks), The One Who Really Loves You (1962)(7 tracks), Two Lovers And Other Great Hits (1963)(5 tracks), Together (with Marvin Gaye)(1964)(the 2 tracks released as a single) and Mary Wells Sings My Guy (1964)(4 tracks). She also had a live album, Recorded Live On Stage (1963), from which nothing has been taken, and an unreleased album, Second Time Around (1963). There are ten previously unreleased tracks on Looking Back. Five of these were recorded in 1963, including I Want You 'Round, a duet with Smokey Robinson, so perhaps some of these came from that unreleased album.
When she left for Twentieth Century Fox with My Guy still in the charts, there was plenty in the can. This included three planned singles that were pulled: When I'm Gone (given instead to Brenda Holloway), One Block From Heaven, which gets a thumping Spectorised treatment, and Whisper You Love Me Boy, later to be recorded by the Supremes, which appeared on the My Guy album. Berry Gordy did not issue any "spoiler" singles but he did collect some of the material together for an excellent album in 1966 called Vintage Stock. With the notable exception of I'll Be Available, a fabulous track which really should have been included (and which Brenda Holloway also re-recorded), Vintage Stock is here in its entirety.
All the tracks have been remastered from the original masters in a very clear sound, although every track is in mono. At present, the only original Mary Wells album in print is Together, her duet album with Marvin Gaye, which can be found alongside the Marvin Gaye/Kim Weston album Take Two in UK Motown's excellent 2 Classic Albums 1 CD series. It would be great if other Mary Wells titles turned up in stereo mixes in that series. Until that happens, if the price is right, grab this one while you can."