It’s Summer Solstice, and on the longest day of the year we say goodbye to Gemini Roll Call for this year. We end it on the highest note with Motown’s Queen of The Basement Brenda Holloway. There’s perhaps no finer archetype of Gemini to discuss with Holloway. Not only an underrated soul singer, she was a songwriter and a classically trained Violinist to boot. Such talent shouldn’t and wouldn’t be wasted as a second string player at Motown, which makes her 5 year run at the label full of unfulfilled promises one of the most egregious Motown mistakes of the golden era.
She did start off with a shiny Top 40 hit and an LP to support it though. It’s well known however that her brilliant debut for the label was eclipsed for a number of reasons, but notably the fact that The Supremes rocketed to #1 while on the tour they came as a package deal with her during the summer of 1964. While The Supremes were rewarded finally after 5 years of work, Brenda started her process of racking up a bunch of stellar material for the label that would go by with little notice from the public, if it were released at all.
It all started with the bulk of brilliant material from her debut LP. Since it only included one Single (A & B Side) all of the other 10 tracks stayed a mystery for those who didn’t purchase the LP. This silky Post-Doo-Wop plea to the angel of love and affairs could have been an interesting diversion and direction for Brenda’s singles to go in the Fall of ’64 but as it stands remains one of the shadow classics of hers that remained in plain sight.
Happy Birthday Brenda Holloway, you’ll always reign as Queen here.