THE ORIGINAL: The Supremes (1966)
This is another song in the Motown/Holland-Dozier-Holland songbook. It was a number one hit for the Supremes, but to be honest I’ve never really liked this song.
It’s textbook Motown. It follows the signature call-and-response vocals, and lots of multitracking with Diana singing lead with Florence and Mary doing the backing vocals.
This song is a snappy-peppy, jittery, upbeat number, clocking in at 2:19, like a damn Ramones song!
It opens with a guitar that sounds like the “bee-deep-bee-deep-bee-deep-beep-beep” of a Morse Code sound effect from the old days of radio that would happen before a major news flash.
The song is about a gal who had her heart broken and is telling the guy to leave her alone instead of trying to be friends, because every time she sees him, her heart breaks all over again. If you’ve lived this particular nightmare, you know it’s no fucking fun at all.
It feels really rushed. I’ve never understood why it had to be so damned fast. Also, this a really sad song if you pay attention to the lyrics, and this arrangement makes it sound happy. The snappy-peppy totally works for “You Can’t Hurry Love,” but not for this song.
Maybe if they didn’t have that Morse Code thingy in the beginning, it would have been a smidge slower. I always thought it should have had a more gospel feel, and I always wanted Aretha to cover it. I think it would have sounded much better.
THE COVER: Vanilla Fudge (1967)
I just love this cover version. Vanilla Fudge outdo themselves on this one, especially considering that this was their first single, done in one take.
The album cut is 7:20, and the single edit is 2:59, done much slower than the original. It starts with Mark Stein playing a very spooky sounding Hammond B3 part that starts slowly and builds as the other instruments come in, then a crashing crescendo on the drums played by Carmine Appice, it goes back to the spooky organ, like something from a Hammer horror film.
Come to think of it, it would have been great music for Christopher Lee entering a room.
The drums kick in again, more crashing and bashing, and then the band mimics the Morse Code thing. Then Mark shouts the call, “set me free, why dontcha babe,” sounding like he’s writhing in agony from his heart being ripped open.
The whole thing sounds very doom and gloom. He’s totally miserable, as you should be in this situation. Miserable because you want to be freed from the asshole who broke your heart, so you can move on with your life, but this asshole is torturing you by not letting you go. Misery, I say! No snappy-peppy!
WHO DOES IT BETTER?
Hands down, Vanilla Fudge, for every reason I cited. Just listen to them back to back and I think you’ll agree with me. You will find yourself playing it over and over, louder and louder, because it’s just that fantastic, especially if you’ve just had your heart broken.
ANY OTHER GOOD COVERS?
Fuck no! Don’t even bother with the Kim Wilde version from the 80’s, because it’s a piece of shit 12″ dance single that you were supposed to do aerobics to. A tinny, synth-filled piece of garbage.
Same for Reba McEntire. She did a house music version, which was ridiculous. They’re both horrific and snappy-peppy in the worst ways.
NOW YOU DECIDE!