Perhaps the most beautiful woman to step in front of a microphone at the studio, there was never a greater, more unfulfilled talent at Motown than Brenda Holloway.
Her idol was Mary Wells, but she developed a style that was all her own. She could be tender and seductive, or hot and steamy, but, on occasion, she had a staccato way of delivering a line that sounded petulant, steely and rebellious.
A trained musician and a favourite of the brilliant producer Frank Wilson, some of the arrangements on her songs are among the most beautiful created at Motown (I’ll Always Love You, Together ‘Til The End Of Time, You Can Cry On My Shoulder, I’ve Been Good To You), and her biggest song Every Little Bit Hurts (which she recorded in tears) not only inspired numerous covers (notably by the Small Faces and The Spencer Davis Group) but secured her a spot supporting The Beatles on their 1965 tour of America.
The Artistry of Brenda Holloway (1968) was the singer’s second and final album for Motown (released months after she had left the label in disillusion) and included her sublime take on My Smile Is Just A Frown Turned Upside Down, the potential floor-shakers Mr Lifeguard (Come And Rescue Me) and After All You’ve Done, and the sophisticated The Love Line.
The album was aimed at Holloway’s UK fanbase and included her nine singles, five choice B-sides and two album tracks from her debut album.
It was two songs originally written for Mary Wells – When I’m Gone and Operator – that helped her win the hearts of Northern Soul fans and found her a new British audience.