Tuesday, June 11, 2019

"Walk Like a Man" by Mary Jane Girls

Song#:  2796
Date:  07/12/1986
Debut:  74
Peak:  41
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  This Rick James-assembled vocal quartet scored their second gold LP in a row with 1985's Only Four You. It featured their biggest hit, the #7 Pop/#3 R&B track "In My House." That success led to the women recording their third album that was tentatively titled Sweet Conversations. Among the tracks recorded for the LP was this cover tune (see below). It would end up being on the soundtrack to the Ted Danson/Howie Mandel comedy film A Fine Mess. The song would be pushed out as the second single from the soundtrack album (the first single was "A Fine Mess" by The Temptations, which got to #63 R&B/#28 AC). It was moderately successful on the Pop chart just missing out on the Top 40 at the dreaded #41 spot. At R&B the tune could only manage a brief showing at #91. In addition to the single not doing all that well, it seemed there were some behind the scenes struggles between James, the quartet, and Motown (the group was on Motown's Gordy label). In the end, the album was shelved, James and Motown lost interest in the group, and the Mary Jane Girls would split in 1987. This single would be their final release and last one to chart.

ReduxReview:  It seems that Motown got the rights to release the soundtrack to A Fine Mess, so of course for some tracks they sought out artists from the label to record/submit songs, such as Mary Jane Girls. A few of the tracks for the film were remakes of older tunes and someone had the bright idea of getting Rick James to produce this song with MJG. While the idea of a female vocal group covering a hit by a male vocal group was kind of interesting, this one didn't work all that well. The lyrics were adjusted to change the perspective, which made it a bit awkward. It wasn't just simply changing he to she or him to her. The whole viewpoint of the song had to change. Then the tune was shoved into a typical James production that was just okay. There was nothing special about it and even the added sax solo at the end was bordering on bland. Although not necessarily bad, it wasn't great either. It was just...meh.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally recorded by The 4 Seasons. The 1963 single would become that group's third #1 in a row on the Pop chart. It was co-written by group member Bob Gaudio along with their producer Bob Crewe. Many artists have covered the song, but Mary Jane Girls are the only other ones to get a version on the Pop chart.  2) After MJG broke up, group member Yvette Marine went on to be a singer for demos and jingles. She also did some backing vocal work for a few artists including an as-yet unknown singer named Paula Abdul. According to Marine, she was paid to sing backing vocals on a few tracks and also supply a lead guide vocal, which would then be replaced later by Abdul's lead vocal. However, after the 1988 release of Abdul's hit debut album, Marine began to claim that on some tracks her vocal take was either partially used as the lead vocal or blended with Abdul's to beef up her vocal take. Marine had been trying unsuccessfully on her own to get lead vocal credit and compensation for her work, but she was basically ignored. In 1991, Marine sued Abdul's record label, Virgin, in order to get the issue resolved. After a trial in 1993, a jury unanimously voted to reject Marine's claim. That result basically said that all of Abdul's lead vocals on her LP Forever Your Girl were 100% hers.


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