‘Every Little Bit Hurts’: The Artistry of Brenda Holloway

3 Nov

Some things are easy to explain away, but others are harder to understand.  In retrospect you can see why Aretha will always be known as ‘The Queen of Soul’ when you listen to that amazing run of Atlantic albums in the 60s, and why so many contemporary r’n’b singers are still trying to assimilate the vocal stylings that make Marvin soul’s most revered voice.  And James Brown’s rhythmic innovations continue to echo across the years, simultaneously sounding brand new and as old as time…

But then we have to consider why Brenda Holloway made some of Motown’s most memorable records and yet is now relatively forgotten outside of the soul cognoscenti.  Falling foul of the pecking order and internal politics within the Motown recording set-up, Brenda quit the music business in 1968 at the age of 21 and effectively never came back.  And yet anyone who has heard the records that she cut before then, showing an amazing maturity and versatility way beyond her years, can understand why diehard soul fans (particularly in the UK) have always held a candle for her talent, and refused to let these records drift away into obscurity.  And finally, 45 years after its first release in the UK, the ever wonderful Kent records have re-released ‘The Artistry of Brenda Holloway’, fully remastered and with a number of excellent bonus tracks that have never released before.

If you’ve not heard many of these tunes before you’re in for a real treat: there are dancers (of course) such as the sublime ‘When I’m Gone’ and a great version of Smokey’s ‘My Smile Is Just A Frown Turned Upside Down’, but it’s the ballads that are the real deal here: ‘I’ll Always Love You’, ‘You’ve Made Me So Very Happy’, and the gorgeous title track wonderfully capture desire and longing (those sexy vocals!) and dress them in uptown arrangements that make them feel simple and sophisticated all at once.

Timeless stuff – here’s ‘When I’m Gone’ and ‘Every Little Bit Hurts’:



And get the CD now from Kent/Ace Records:



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