RELEASE DATE: July 22nd 2005
CD Edition limited to 5000 non-numbered limitied edition copies.
After an amazing run fronting the Vandellas at Motown, with 23 pop charting singles including such classics as “Heat Wave,” “Dancing In The Streets,” and “Jimmy Mack,” Ms. Reeves parted company with both the Vandellas and her former label, Motown. Signing to MCA after a lawsuit to extract her from her previous contract, her 1974 solo debut was highly anticipated.
Producer Richard Perry was signed on to oversee the project; it was hoped that he could bring the magic he had formerly employed on behalf of Barbra Streisand and Carly Simon. The album, entitled simply Martha Reeves, was certainly a stylistic departure, as Reeves turned to such unexpected songwriters as Hoyt Axton, Van Morrison, and Jimmy Cliff for material.
In retrospect, her covers of “Wild Night” and “Many Rivers To Cross” were perhaps a little ahead of the curve, in terms of her audience. Certainly Perry’s production style was markedly different than any of the masters who inhabited Motown’s Snakepit. In any event, the record wasn’t the commercial success either Ms. Reeves or the record company had hoped for or expected, and it turned out to be the only one she would record for MCA.
That said, the album holds up remarkably, given thirty years’ distance. She’s in terrific voice throughout, and Perry’s production is comparatively restrained. The opening of “Many Rivers To Cross,” for instance, is simply Ms. Reeves’ vocal over an organ with piano accompaniment. Just gorgeous.
This version of Martha Reeves also includes three previously-unavailable bonus tracks, including a lovely reading of Ruby & The Romantics’ “Our Day Will Come.” It was remastered in 2005 from the original master tapes by Gavin Lurssen at The Mastering Lab.
This overlooked gem is a natural for all Motown and Vandellas fans.
While you’ve got Martha on your mind, don’t forget our Martha Reeves And The Vandellas Spellbound from the Lost and Found series of Motown rarities! She also appears on The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 2: 1962 and Motown Sings Motown Treasures.
Reeves is a 1995 inductee into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.