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One of Motown's greatest singers
on 13 April 2005
One of Motown's very greatest singers (although as she was based in Los Angeles and refused to play the record company game, somewhat undervalued), and a classically-trained violinist, Brenda Holloway made some of the most memorable singles on a label famous for its memorable singles.
All of the 9 singles released during her Motown lifetime turn up here (with 6 of their B-sides), including her two best known songs, Every Little Bit Hurts, on which she also plays viola, and You've Made Me So Very Happy, which she co-wrote with her younger singer sister Patrice, along with Berry Gordy and Frank Wilson. Both of these are of course sublime and essential to any Motown collection.
The other 3 tracks are made up from Brenda Holloway's only proper album Every Little Bit Hurts, from 1964 (Tamla Motown UK later put together a compilation called The Artistry Of Brenda Holloway), and include her soulful version of Unchained Melody. Who knows, perhaps it was hearing this that inspired Phil Spector to revive the song the following year?
Although this collections omit some excellent material, it does score over The Very Best Of Brenda Holloway by using stereo mixes for 6 of the tracks, though sadly this does not include Every Little Bit Hurts. Some of the mastering is slightly muddy on other tracks. Hurt A Little Every Day is by far the most disgraceful, sounding as if it was mastered from a well-worn stereo acetate, and without any explanation or disclaimer in the notes.
Some of the tracks were produced in Detroit by Smokey Robinson and include versions of the Miracles' Who's Lovin' You and I've Been Good To You. There was an attempt to mould her as the new Mary Wells, so versions of her 1962 B-side Operator and When I'm Gone (which Mary Wells had recorded but which Motown did not release until 1966) were made at this time. She does a great job on them but was unhappy with the direction she was being obliged to take and returned to Los Angeles before the sessions were complete.
The need for a 2CD retrospective using new mixes from best quality stereo masters and including unreleased material was still badly needed at the time of this release, but until such time this needed to be on your Motown shelf. However, the release in 2005 of the Brenda Holloway 2CD Motown Anthology answers much of this deficiency, and gives consumers the choice as to the extent of Brenda Holloway's work they want in their collection, though this remains a useful introduction