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My Favourite Song

May 6, 2014

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas – Heatwave.

There are lots of wonderful songs in the world, but there isn’t a better song than this. (I stole that line from Jimmy Greaves, who was talking about George Best – “You can’t say he was the best player ever in the world – how can you compare Maradona, Pele, Cruyff? – but you *can* say there has never been a *better* player”). Heatwave is the sound of summer, the sound of that delirious craziness when you first fall for someone. Love as blissful torment. I love her vocals – that’s not a kid singing, that’s a grown woman’s voice. I love the call-outs from the backing singers, the voice of kids on the street egging her on. I can only presume it’s James Jamerson and Benny Benjamin driving the song along on bass and drums respectively. It’s such a great feel, aided by the magnificent piano.

I knew The Who version before I heard the original, my 17-year old self coming out of his Heavy Metal days and learning the joy of Soul Music via Maximum R&B. I still love The Who’s version, but once I’d heard Martha Reeves’ version a couple of times, it came toppermost in my affections. I don’t think the guys in The Who would have a problem with that!

I hadn’t seen this footage before. It looks like it’s from Ready Steady Go. I like how the singers stand out from the audience but only from the waist upwards. Differentiated enough to present the group well, but with that sense that they are of the audience. Very nicely put together.

I once danced on stage with Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, which is a whole other story! It’s one of my tales of choice that I reach for after a few drinks!

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