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‘What Am I Going To Do Without Your Love’: A Rare Vandellas Miss

‘What Am I Going To Do Without Your Love’ was a minor US pop chart entry, but missed the soul chart altogether.

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Martha Vandellas What Am I Going To Do

Coming off the Top 3 R&B hit “My Baby Loves Me,” which peaked just outside the Top 20 on the pop side, Martha & the Vandellas released “What Am I Going To Do Without Your Love.” On June 11, 1966, it entered the pop bestsellers — but missed the soul chart altogether.

The song was written by Motown regulars “Mickey” Stevenson and Sylvia Moy, and produced by Stevenson with Ivy Jo Hunter. It had a mid-tempo style that was unmistakably Tamla, and an orchestration augmented by an ever-dependable bassline from Funk Brother James Jamerson. But it proved to be a highly unusual mis-step with Martha and the girls’ soul audience, or perhaps more relevantly, with R&B radio programmers.

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A disappointing peak

“What Am I Going To Do…,” released as a single on Gordy on May 19, entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No.84, and made a fairly promising ten-place climb the following week. But then it slipped to No.77 and, although it recovered for a new peak of No.71, that was as high as the song went. Motown released a Greatest Hits compilation by the group at the same time, which also charted on June 11 and hit No.6 on the R&B album chart — but didn’t include the current single.

The single’s b-side was “Go Ahead And Laugh,” a Stevenson/Hunter composition that was first cut by Mickey’s wife LaBrenda Ben, whose vocals were lost after Kim Weston recorded her take over the track. Weston’s version served as a B-side twice, to both “A Little More Love” and “I’m Still Loving You.”

Happily, all was well again when the next Martha & the Vandellas single came out in the autumn. “I’m Ready For Love” restored the group to the Top 10 on both charts, hitting No.9 pop and No.2 on the R&B countdown.

Buy or stream “What Am I Going To Do Without Your Love” on 50th Anniversary: The Singles Collection 1962-1972.

Follow the Best Motown Songs Ever playlist.

 

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. David Parker

    June 13, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    Really, it’s just not that good. It sort of rambles. You seem to be implying that a song only needs to be heard to be a hit, and nothing could be farther from the truth.

    • Jack A Sanchez

      July 14, 2020 at 5:48 am

      I like it. a lot.

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