30 Forgotten Motown B-Sides

30 Forgotten Motown B-Sides

Motown Historical Museum aka Hitsvill USA, Detroit, MichiganIn June of 1972, after 14 years in Detroit, the city of its birth, Motown Records moved their headquarters to Los Angeles and thus ended one of the most iconic eras in our city’s great musical history. Some say it left a hole in the heart of Detroit the size of the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn. History proves, however, that Detroit remained one of the most creative and fertile music cities in the world, as it still is today. During their decade and a half run in the City, Motown spawned a host of excellent subsidiary labels, the most important among them being Tamla (which actually existed a year prior to Motown), Gordy and Soul. Often lost amongst the gargantuan collective catalog of these imprints and the glitz of the many mammoth hits contained therein is the deep cut B-Side. Here’s our list of 30 forgotten Motown B-sides you’ll probably never hear on your favorite oldies station, spanning the years of Motown’s time in Detroit, 1959 to 1972. We give you our personal guarantee you’ll find at least one you adore here. Enjoy!

  1. Barrett Strong – “Oh I Apologize” – 1959 Tamla – Flip Side to the #23 Hit “Money (That’s What I Want)”, the very first Top 40 hit for the Motown group of record labels, written by founder Berry Gordy, Jr. and William “Smokey” Robinson. The original was recorded and released on Tamla in 1959, but it was the 1960 pressing on Anna Records that hit the charts.
  2. The Miracles - 'Who's Lovin You' label 600x598The Miracles – “Who’s Lovin You” – 1960 Tamla – Flip Side to the #2 Hit “Shop Around”, Smokey’s first huge hit. Written solely by Gordy, it spent eight weeks at #1 on the R&B charts.
  3. The Contours - 'Move Mr. Man' label 600x597The Contours – “Move Mr. Man” – 1962 Gordy – Flip Side to the #3 Hit “Do You Love Me”, The Contours only Top 40 hit, that got a new lease on life in 1988 when it hit the charts for a second time, bolstered by the popularity of the movie Dirty Dancing.
  4. Jr. Walker & The All-Stars – “Hot Cha” – 1964 Soul – Flip Side to the #4 Hit “Shotgun”, Walker’s biggest hit which featured Funk Brother’s bassist James Jamerson.
  5. Mary Wells – “Oh Little Boy (What Did You Do To Me)” – 1964 Motown – Flip Side to the #1 Hit “My Guy”, Wells’ biggest hit, written and produced by Smokey Robinson.
  6. Four Tops – “Sad Souvenirs” – 1965 Motown – Flip Side to the #1 Hit “I Can’t Help Myself”, the Tops’ first top ten hit, written by the legendary songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.
  7. The Marvelettes - 'Anything You Wanna Do' label 525x525The Marvelettes – “Anything You Wanna Do” – 1965 Tamla – Flip Side to the #7 Hit “Don’t Mess With Bill”. The Marvelettes of Inkster tore up the charts with their first hit, #1 smash “Please Mr. Postman”, and it ended up being the highlight of their career. #7 is the highest position they would attain thereafter.
  8. Spinners – “Tomorrow May Never Come” – 1965 Motown – Flip Side to the #35 Hit “I’ll Always Love You”. Although native Detroiters, Spinners recorded only one Top 40 hit on Motown before moving on to a very successful career with Atlantic Records.
  9. Florence Ballard Home on W Buena Vista, Detroit, MichiganThe Supremes – “Who Could Ever Doubt My Love” – 1965 Motown – Flip Side to the #1 Hit “I Hear A Symphony”, another smash penned by Holland-Dozier-Holland.
  10. Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston – “It’s Got To Be A Miracle” – 1966 Tamla – The Supremes - 'Who Could Ever Doubt My Love' label 600x600Flip Side to the #14 Hit “It Takes Two”. Detroiter Weston would go on to record for MGM Records, but “It Takes Two” with Gaye was her only Top 40 hit.
  11. The Isley Brothers – “There’s No Love Left” – 1966 Tamla – Flip Side to the #12 Hit “This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)”.  After making a handful of records for Tamla, this Cincinnati based trio added two more brothers and a brother-in-law to the line-up in 1969, and formed their own label, T-Neck.
  12. Martha & The Vandellas – “Third Finger, Left Hand” – 1966 Gordy – Flip Side to the #4 Hit “Jimmy Mack”. Lead singer Martha Reeves went on to serve as an Jimmy Ruffin - 'Baby I've Got It' label 600x596elected Detroit councilperson from 2005 to 2009.
  13. Jimmy Ruffin – “Baby I’ve Got It” – 1966 Soul – Flip Side to the #7 Hit “What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted”. Brother of The Tempatations’ David Ruffin, Jimmy went on to record for RSO, Polydor and EMI Records.
  14. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – “You Must Be Love” – 1967 Tamla – Flip Side to the #4 Hit “I Second That Emotion”. In early ’67 The Miracles became Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, and in ’74 Smokey went completely solo.
  15. Diana Ross And The Supremes – “Going Down For The Third Time” – 1967 Motown – Flip Side to the #2 Hit “Reflections”. Much like Smokey, Ross would gain a higher billing than the rest of her group in mid-1967.
  16. Marvin Gaye Home on AppolineMarvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – “Two Can Have A Party” – 1968 Tamla – Flip Side to the #7 Hit “You’re All I Need To Get By”, one of seven hits Terrell recorded with Gaye. She never hit the Top 40 as a solo act.
  17. David Ruffin - 'I've Got To Find Myself A Brand New Baby' 45 cover 520x500David Ruffin – “I’ve Got To Find Myself A Brand New Baby” – 1969 Motown – Flip Side to the #9 Hit “My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)” , one of only two solo hits the co-lead singer of The Temptations recorded for Motown.
  18. Stevie Wonder home on Greenlawn, Detroit, MichiganStevie Wonder – “Don’t Know Why I Love You” – 1969 Tamla – Flip Side to the #4 Hit “My Cherie Amour”, one of several early Stevie hits penned by Henry “Hank” Crosby, who also co-wrote Smokey & The Miracles’ “The Tears Of A Clown”.
  19. The Jackson 5 – “One More Chance” – 1970 Motown – Flip Side to the #1 Hit “I’ll Be There”, the fourth of six consecutive #1 and #2 hits for The Jackson 5 between December ’69 and April ’71.
  20. Gladys Knight & The Pips – “The Tracks Of My Tears” – 1970 Soul – Flip Side to the #9 Hit “If I Were Your Woman”. Knight made a classic her own with this under-appreciated and underplayed B-side gem.
  21. The Originals – “I’ll Wait For You” – 1970 Soul – Flip Side to the #12 Hit “The Bells”. The Detroit bred Originals recorded two Top 40 hits for Soul, both written and produced by Marvin Gaye.
  22. Diana Ross - Tamla Motown 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' 45 cover 600x599Diana Ross – “Can’t It Wait Until Tomorrow” – 1970 Motown – Flip Side to the #1 Hit “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”. Ross split with The Supremes in 1969 to take up a solo career that included lead movie roles in “Lady Sings The Blues” and “The Wiz”.
  23. Edwin Starr – “He Who Picks A Rose” – 1970 Gordy – Flip Side to the #1 Hit “War”. Motown acquired their short lived subsidiary Ric-Tic Records in 1968 primarily for Edwin Starr’s recording contract.
  24. The Supremes – “Shine On Me” – 1970 Motown – Flip Side to the #7 Hit “Stoned Love”, The Supremes biggest hit after the 1969 departure of Diana Ross.
  25. The Temptations - 'It's Summer' label 600x597The Temptations – “It’s Summer” – 1970 Gordy – Flip Side to the #3 Hit “Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today)”, produced and co-written by Norman Whitfield whose influence on the Motown Sound would eventually rival that of Holland-Dozier-Holland.
  26. Stevie Wonder – “I’m More Than Happy (I’m Satisfied)” – 1970 Tamla – Flip Side to the #3 Hit “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”, which spent six weeks at #1 on the R&B charts.
  27. Marvin Gaye - 'Sad Tomorrows' label 600x600Marvin Gaye – “Sad Tomorrows” – 1971 Tamla – Flip Side to the #4 Hit “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)”, one of three top ten hits taken from Gaye’s timeless urban portrait, What’s Going On.
  28. Rare Earth – “The Seed” – 1971 Rare Rare Earth - 'The Seed' label 600x593Earth – Flip Side to the #7 Hit “I Just Want To Celebrate”. Motown’s Rare Earth label was named after the band and intended as a vehicle for white rock artists.
  29. The Undisputed Truth – “You Got The Love I Need” – 1971 Gordy – Flip Side to the #3 Hit “Smiling Faces Sometimes”, the only Top 40 hit for The Undisputed Truth.
  30. Michael Jackson - Tamla Motown 'Rockin' Robin' 45 cover 500x503Michael Jackson – “Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone” – 1972 Motown – Flip Side to the #2 Hit “Rockin’ Robin”, Michael’s second solo smash which stayed in the Top 40 for over two months. Just a few weeks later and Motown was no longer based in Detroit. ~I♥DM

(Editors’ Note: All record label and sleeve images are copyrighted by their respective copyright owners. I Love Detroit Michigan makes no guarantees as to the longevity of links included in this post, so we advise you get to ’em while they’re still hot!)

Dale Carlson

Dale Carlson grew up along the northeastern shores of Lake Michigan, where at a young age Detroit called out to him in his dreams. In 2008, after extended stays in ten different Michigan cities, the author settled permanently in southeast Oakland County where he currently lives and works in various capacities within the local real estate industry.