Morissette and the Temps

Otis Williams

In May 2023, my wife and I attended two musicals at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady. The first was Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill: the Musical, based on her 1995 album and more of her songs. The second was Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.

The Morissette piece was interesting because it had a narrative not driven by the songs. Instead, Diablo Cody wrote the book and seemed to plug in the appropriate tune for that narrative arc.

The story revolves around a Connecticut woman named Mary Jane Healy. She’s writing the annual Christmas letter. She brags about her husband Steve’s work promotion and son Nick’s early admission to Harvard. And, oh yeah, her adopted daughter Frankie’s art. Things are not so perfect in suburbia, however.

The Hollywood Reporter wrote: “Electrifying, visceral and stunning. JAGGED LITTLE PILL takes a stand against complacency.”

The review headline in the Albany Times Union by Steve Barnes calls the show “pushy, overambitious, loud.” The last sentence and a half: “The show, in its own weird way, has the integrity of committed beliefs. Whether that’s your kind of theater is another matter.”

It is undoubtedly MY kind of theater, a narrative that hits on several hot-button topics, including prescription drug addiction and rape by a familiar. I accept “pushy” and even “loud.” But it was clear that the Thursday matinee audience, except for an older couple who walked out after the first song in the second act, You Oughta Know, was enthralled by the material and the actors performing it.

Jagged Little Pill played on Broadway from December 2019 to March 2020, then from October to December 2021. It’s been touring since August 31, 2022, and will be touring in Buffalo, Boston, KC, and elsewhere at least through September.


Ain’t Too Proud is a standard jukebox musical. It tells the story of Motown’s leading male singing group from the point of view of Otis Williams, the only remaining member from their heyday in the 1960s and 1970s.

Before the program began at our Saturday matinee, my wife asked if the group had stayed with its original members. Er, no. Indeed, the group’s evolution drove the narrative: Elbridge Bryant was replaced by David Ruffin, who was replaced by Dennis Edwards et al.

The music and the performances were top-notch. The TU’s Barnes calls it a “resplendent cavalcade of Temptations’ hits,” even as he questions the jukebox musical genre.

My issue was more prosaic. The show takes some liberties with the facts, probably to trim a full show. For instance, I would have concluded from Ain’t Too Proud that the Temptations reunion show took only a couple of years after Eddie Kendricks left the group in 1971.

Actually, it took place in 1982, and I attended it at the Colonie Colosseum in Albany County, NY. Glenn Leonard was one of the seven, not Damon Harris, who left the group in 1975.

I had to actively say to myself, “Self, these details don’t much matter to the audience.” And there were things the show got correct, such as Berry Gordy refusing to let the group release War as a single; it became a #1 hit for Edwin Starr.

Like JLP, Ain’t Too Proud’s run (Mar 21, 20190 -Jan 16, 2022) was interrupted by COVID. The show has been touring since December 2021. It’ll be touring the US Midwest, South, and Western Canada, among the locales, through February 2024.

Music by The Spinners

Produced by Thom Bell

When I wrote my post about Thom Bell, I left off some songs I liked that he did not write but did produce. As it turned out, they were all by the Spinners, or the Detroit Spinners or Motown Spinners, as they were known in the UK. There was a British folk group called The Spinners in the late 1950s.

The group started back in 1954 as The Domingoes became The Spinners in 1961. It released a couple of Top 100 songs that year, including their first recording, That’s What Girls Are Made For (#27 pop, #5 RB), on Tri-Phi Records.

Motown bought up the Tri-Phi roster in 1963. Per Wikipedia, “With limited commercial success, Motown assigned the Spinners as road managers, chaperones, and chauffeurs for other groups, and even as shipping clerks.”

They were moved to Motown imprint V.I.P. In 1970, they finally had a hit with It’s A Shame (#14 pop, #4 RB), produced by Stevie Wonder and written by Wonder and Syreeta Wright. But Motown wasn’t a great fit for the group.

A new ocean

Aretha Franklin recommended they sign with her label, Atlantic, and they did in 1972.

Could It Be I’m Falling In Love (#4 pop in 1973, #1 RB, #14 adult contemporary, gold record) was co-written by Melvin and Mervin Steals, two songwriter brothers working for  Atlantic sometimes credited as “Mystro and Lyric.” The house band MFSB provided the backing. Bobby Smith sings lead through most of the song while Philippé Wynne handles vocal duties on the outro.

One Of A Kind (Love Affair) (#11 pop, #1 for four weeks RB, #19 AC in 1973, gold record) was written by Joseph B. Jefferson. Wynne was the lead singer.

Mighty Love (#20 pop, #1 for two weeks RB in 1973) was written by Joseph B. Jefferson, Bruce Hawes, and Charles Simmons.

Biggest hit

Then Came You (#2 RB, #3 AC in 1974, gold record) was credited to Dionne Warwicke and the Spinners (from 1971 to 1975, Warwick added a final ‘e’ to her last name). Sherman Marshall and Phillip T. Pugh wrote the track.

“Released during a time that Warwick’s chart fortunes were at an ebb after moving to Warner Bros. Records in 1972, the Philadelphia soul single was a rare mid-1970s success for the singer. Sung as a duet with the Spinners’ main lead singer Bobby Smith,  the song became Warwick’s first-ever single to reach number one on the US Billboard Hot 100. It became her highest-charting R&B record of the 1970s, and it was also the first number-one pop hit for the Spinners. It was nominated for a Grammy.”

When I was growing up, I was annoyed with folks who denigrate musicians who aren’t making the “right” music. Charlie Pride’s country music, Jimi Hendrix’s rock, and Dionne Warwick sing Bacharach -David was not considered appropriate by some people, which I thought was stupid. Still, I was happy that Dionne got her soul cred with this track.  

Games People Play, also known as “They Just Can’t Stop It The” (Games People Play) (#5 pop, #1 RB, #2 AC in 1975, gold record) written by Jefferson, Hawes, and Simmons. It featured lead vocals by Bobby Smith. The house band MFSB provided the backing. It “featured guest vocalist Evette L. Benton (though producer Bell disputed this in a UK-based interview, claiming Evette’s line was actually group member Henry Fambrough – his voice sped up), and led to the nickname “Mister 12:45″ for bass singer Jackson, after his signature vocal line on the song.”

I love the fact that there was a bass vocal solo; I can barely reach the lowest notes.  

Edythe Wayne was Holland-Dozier-Holland

“And our love will surely grow”

Edythe WayneEdythe Wayne was a pseudonym used by Holland, Dozier, and Holland for contractual reasons after they left Motown. From here: “In 1967, H-D-H… entered into a dispute with Berry Gordy Jr. over profit-sharing and royalties. Eddie Holland had the others stage a work slowdown, and by early 1968 the trio had left the label.

“They started their own labels, Invictus Records and Hot Wax Records, which were modestly successful. When Motown sued for breach of contract, H-D-H countersued. The subsequent litigation was one of the longest legal battles in music industry history. Because they were legally contracted to Motown’s publishing arm, Jobete, they could not use their own names on songs they wrote, and their material was credited to Wayne-Dunbar, ‘Edythe Wayne’ being a pseudonym and Ronald Dunbar being an associate who was a songwriter and producer. The lawsuit was settled in 1977.”


Jimmy Mack – Martha and the Vandellas, #10 pop, #1 RB in 1967
Bernadette – The Four Tops, #4 pop, #3 RB in 1967
The Happening – Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, #32 pop in 1967 (Orig. The Supremes, #1 pop, #12 RB in 1967.) Written by H-D-H, and Frank De Vol
7 Rooms Of Gloom – The Four Tops, #14 pop, #10 RB in 1967

Your Changing Love – Marvin Gaye, #33 pop, #7 RB in 1967
I’ll Turn To Stone – The Supremes, album cut in 1967 (Orig. The Four Tops, #76 pop, #50 RB.) Written by H-D-H, and R. Dean Taylor
Going Down For The Third Time – Diana Ross and the Supremes, album cut in 1967, probably my favorite non-singles Supremes track

1968 and later

Forever Came Today – The Jackson 5, #60 pop, #6 RB in 1975 (Orig. Diana Ross and the Supremes, #28 pop, #17 RB in 1968)
Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While) – The Doobie Brothers, #11 pop in 1975 (Orig. The Isley Brothers, #22 pop, #52 RB in 1968)
I’m In A Different World – The Four Tops, #51 pop, #23 in 1968. Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and R. Dean Taylor

Give Me Just A Little More Time – Chairmen of the Board, #3 pop, #8 RB in 1970. Written by “Edyth Wayne” and Ronald Dunbar
Band Of Gold – Freda Payne, #3 pop, #20 RB in 1970. Written by “Edyth Wayne,” Daphne Dumas, and Ronald Dunbar.

There are also songs written by the Holland brothers, together, solo, or with others. For instance, Eddie Holland and Norman Whitfield created several numbers for the Temptations. But since Lamont Dozier’s death inspired these posts, I’ll pass on those for now.

Brian-Lamont-Eddie, 1965-1966

more Holland-Dozier-Holland

Brian, Lamont, and EddieWhen Holland–Dozier–Holland was a songwriting and production team for Motown in the 1960s, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland were the composers and producers for each song, and Eddie Holland wrote the lyrics and arranged the vocals.

Here are more songs by Brian-Lamont-Eddie that I own, excluding most of the big hits of the Supremes, who will be covered separately. H-D-H wrote 10 of the Supremes’ 12 US No. 1 singles.

Nowhere To Run – Martha and the Vandellas, #8 pop, #5 RB in 1965
Whisper You Love Me Boy – The Supremes, B-side of Back In My Arms Again, 1965
I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) – The Four Tops, #1 pop, and RB in 1965
It’s The Same Old Song – The Supremes, album cut in 1967 (Orig.  The Four Tops, #5, pop, #2 RB in 1965)
Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While) – The Doobie Brothers, #11 pop in 1975 (Orig. Kim Weston, #50 pop, #4 RB in 1965
Love (Makes Me Do Foolish Things) – Martha and the Vandellas, #70 pop, #22 RB in 1965


Put Yourself In My Place – The Supremes, album cut in 1966 (Orig. The Elgins – #92 pop in 1966)
Shake Me, Wake Me (When It’s Over) – The Four Tops, #18 pop, #5 RB
This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak for You) – The Supremes, album cut in 1966 ( Orig. The Isley Brothers, #12 pop, #6 RB in 1966. Written by H-D-H and Sylvia Moy
(I’m a) Road Runner – Jr. Walker and the All-Stars, #20 pop, #4 RB in 1966
Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart – The Supremes, #9 pop, #7 RB in 1966

I Guess I’ll Always Love You – The Supremes, album cut in 1967 (Orig. The Isley Brothers, #61 pop, #31 RB in 1966)
You Can’t Hurry Love – Phil Collins, #10 pop in 1982 (Orig. The Supremes, #1 pop and RB in 1966)
Little Darling (I Need You) – The Doobie Brothers, #48 in 1977 (Orig. Marvin Gaye, #47 pop, #10 RB in 1966
Reach Out I’ll Be There – The Four Tops, #1 pop, and RB in 1966
Love’s Gone Bad – Chris Clark, #41 pop in 1966. Looking for the video, I found a version by Michael Jackson, released in 1984 but clearly recorded earlier

I’m Ready For Love – Martha and the Vandellas, #9 pop, #2 RB
You Keep Me Hangin’ On – Vanilla Fudge, #67 pop in 1967, #6 pop in 1968; album version; (Orig. The Supremes, #1 pop and RB in 1966)
(Come ‘Round Here) I’m The One You Need– The Jackson Five, album cut in 1970 (Orig. The Miracles, #17 pop, #4 RB in 1966
Standing In The Shadow Of Love – The Four Tops, #6 pop, #2 RB in 1966

Holland-Dozier-Holland, 1963-1964

Len Barry’s 1-2-3?

Holland-Dozier-HollandOne of my favorite albums growing up was The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland. It was a bit of a silly name as virtually all of the trio’s hits were written by Brian, Lamont, and Eddie.

The writers were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

After Lamont Dozier died recently, I decided to link to some of their songs. How do I choose? If I own the track, I’ve included it.

Except for The Supremes. I’m going for the more obscure tracks. Know, though, that the writers wrote ALL of their hits, from Where Did Our Love Go in 1964 to Forever Came Today in early 1968. I’m sure I’ll share more Supremes/H-D-H hits in 2024.

I also opted for some non-Motown covers. Ultimately, I decided that H-D-H is worth multiple posts, so that’s what I’ll do.

Come and Get These Memories– Martha and the Vandellas, #29 pop, #6 RB in 1963
Heat Wave – Linda Ronstadt, #5 pop in 1975 (Orig. Martha and the Vandellas, #4 pop, #1 RB)
A Love Like Yours (Don’t Come Knocking Every Day)- Ike and Tina Turner, #16 UK in 1966 (Orig. Martha and the Vandellas)
Mickey’s Monkey – The Miracles, #8 pop, #3 RB in 1963
Can I Get A Witness – Marvin Gaye, #22 pop, #3 RB in 1963

Quicksand – Martha and the Vandellas, #8 pop, #7 RB in 1963
When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes – The Supremes, #23 pop, #2 RB in 1963
Leaving Here – Eddie Holland, #76 pop, #27 RB in 1963
Run, Run, Run – The Supremes, #93 pop, #22 RB in 1963
You’re A Wonderful One – Marvin Gaye, #15 pop, #3 RB in 1963


Baby, I Need Your Loving – Johnny Rivers, #3 pop in 1967 (Orig.  Four Tops, #11 pop, #4 RB in 1964)
Baby Don’t You Do It – The Band, #34 pop in 1972 (Orig. Marvin Gaye, #27 pop, #14 in 1964)
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You) – James Taylor, #5 pop in 1975 (Orig. Marvin Gaye, #6 pop, #3 RB)

Ask Any Girl – The Supremes, B-side of Baby Love, 1964; 1-2-3 – Len Berry, #2 pop, #11 RB in 1965. Holland, Dozier, and Holland received a co-writing credit for 1-2-3, originally credited to John Madara, David White, and Len Barry, after a court decided that the song bore similarities to Ask Any Girl. I did not know this.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial