Top Ten Songs by the Marvelettes

1. “Beechwood 4-5789” (1962)-This was the group’s fourth top 40, which was a no 17 hit (an R + B no. 7 smash). Lead singer Gladys Horton was in fine form here. The other original members were Katherine Anderson, Wanda Young, Georgia Dobbins, Juanita Cowart, and Georgeanna Tillman. By the time this record was released, Cowart had left the group. Dobbins left to care for an ailing mother. I also read somewhere that her parents forbade her to tour. Accounts vary here. Some say both left in 1965. (I DO know that they left.) And I CAN say that the classic lineup of Horton, Young, Anderson, and Tillman were now in place. (A few years later, the group would be reduced to a trio as Tillman became seriously ill with leukemia and lupus.)

2. “He’s A Good Guy(Yes He Is)”-(early 1964)-This was one of their best. It should have been a top 10, but for some inexplicable reason (The British Invasion may have been a factor), only peaked at no. 55. I believe William “Smokey” Robinson also wrote this.

3. “Too Many Fish In The Sea” (Dec. 1964-early 1965)-This was the group’s return to the top 40 (since 1962), a no. 25 hit. And it also should have placed top 10 (This record ROCKS!) The single was Gladys Horton’s final stint as lead singer (of the A-sides, anyway).

4.”Too Strong To Be Strung Along”(1962)-This was the B-side of “Strange, I Know”. “Too Strong” wasn’t a top 40 hit, but it sure could have been. Great vocals by Horton!

5. “Strange, I Know”(1962)-I also love the A-side. This only reached no. 49 on the pop charts (a no. 10 R + B smash). This should have been a huge pop hit. It features another great vocal by Horton (Can you tell that I love this woman’s voice?)

6. “Playboy”(1962)-This was a no. 7 smash (an R + B no. 4 smash). It was the group’s second top 10 hit and third top 40 one. Once again, it features Horton’s fantastic singing.

7. “That’s How Heartaches Are Made”(1969)-A remake of Justine “Baby” Washington’s original (1963), the group did their own unique spin on it, while still retaining its essence (Indeed!).

Group member Wanda Young’s singing lead here. It was another great record, but only peaked at no. 97.

8. “Forever” (1963)-Wanda Young also sings lead here, on a lovely ballad that reached no. 44 pop, no. 25 on the R + B charts. I love the music on this record!

9. “Please Mr. Postman” (1961)-A no. 1 pop AND R + B smash, it’s the one that launched the group’s career. And of course, the great voice of Gladys Horton sang the lead. This song was co-written by member Georgia Dobbins.

The Marvelettes were the first Motown group to hit no. 1. And they became the second female group of the 1960s and of the rock era to accomplish this.

10. “The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game” (1967)-This was a no. 13 hit (a no. 2 R + B smash). Wanda Young is on lead. She became the lead singer in 1966; William “Smokey” Robinson also began writing and producing for the group; He wrote this song, among so many others. Upon Young’s leap to singing lead, the group took a different direction, with a sultry, sexy sound. (Horton was still a group member. I like Young’s voice, but I prefer Horton’s.) I believe that Stevie Wonder plays harmonica on this song!

I was strongly considering “Locking Up My Heart” (1963) as a top ten entry, but I don’t like the ending of this song. There are two leads on this particular song; Horton’s vocals are great, as usual, but then you hear Young’s voice coming in, in a screechy falsetto (And she didn’t need to, for she has a very good voice, as well. Did the producers tell her to do this? They shouldn’t have). It’s not pleasant to listen to!

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