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The Messengers (R&B)

There is much debate on the topic, but depending on who you ask, the Messengers were either the first -- or merely one of the first -- white acts ever signed to Motown Records. Their history is so convoluted it required a book, Gary Myers' Wisconsin rock history tome, Do You Hear That Beat, just to make some sense of it. The group was founded in Winona, MN, in 1962 by Greg Jeresek (aka Greg Jennings), and also featured guitarists Greg Bambenek and Roy Berger, keyboardist Chip Andrews, and drummer Jim Murray. Winona's very first rock & roll band, the Messengers were also notable for their on-stage apparel -- matching olive-green blazers -- and quickly earned a devoted local following, releasing their debut single, "My Baby," on the Soma label in 1965.

Bambenek soon left the group to attend college, and with new guitarist John Cader, the group continued until Jeresek likewise relocated to Milwaukee to pursue his degree. There he formed a new Messengers lineup with singer Jeff Taylor, guitarist Peter Barans, keyboardist Jesse Roe, and drummer Augie Jurishica. On the recommendation of DJ friend Paul Christy, the group recorded a frenzied rendition of the Wilson Pickett classic "In the Midnight Hour" in their living room studio -- Christy then managed to get the single released on the USA label in early 1967, where it cracked the Top Five in Chicago. While opening for the Dave Clark Five, the Messengers were spotted by representatives from Motown and soon entered contract negotiations -- as such, they no longer had time or interest in touring behind "In the Midnight Hour," so Christy and USA hatched a plan to recruit a new touring lineup, hiring a Leominster, MA-based band called the Del-Mars, consisting of vocalist Wayne Beckner, guitarist Tom Fini, bassist Ron Gagnon, keyboardist Jack DeCarolis, and drummer Paul Cosenza.

Rechristening the group Michael & the Messengers -- for reasons unknown, as there was never a Michael in this or any other iteration of note -- this second lineup cut their own sound-alike rendition of "In the Midnight Hour," issued on USA later in 1967. This version reached as high as number 116 on the national pop charts, while the original Messengers (now colloquially known in some trainspotting circles as "the Milwaukee Messengers") signed to Motown's Soul subsidiary to release "Window Shopping," which got as high as number 132. Michael & the Messengers returned on USA by summer with "(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet" -- an energetic blue-eyed soul take on the Reflections' original, this single only hit the number 129 spot but was later immortalized via its appearance on the original Nuggets compilation. Two more singles followed -- "Run and Hide" and 1968's "Gotta Take It Easy" -- before the recording career of Michael & the Messengers came to an end, although various iterations of the group toured the Midwest well into the following decade.

The original Messengers, meanwhile, toured in their own rock opera, "The Evolution of Love," next resurfacing on wax in 1969 with a privately pressed single, "I Gotta Dance." A self-titled LP soon followed on Motown's Rare Earth imprint, but despite reaching the number 62 spot with the 1971 single "That's the Way a Woman Is," the Messengers dissolved not long after. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Masterpiece Carl Craig - Ministry Of Sound

1. Zug Island

2. News From Barcelona

3. Little Things (Masterpiece Edit)

4. Lost In The Zoo (Martinez Brothers' Bronx Zoo Mix)

5. Detox

8. Bastille Days

9. Poi Et Pas (ROD Remix)

13. Egypt Egypt

14. Straight From Bolivia

15. The Power Of Suggestion

17. Cloud Nine (Stereo)

18. Mannish Boy

19. 256k Ram

20. Crocodile Hand

21. Noah's Ark

23. Fall In Love (Your Funeral)

24. Cocoon Dark Dub

26. Icon

27. Stay With Me

29. Livin' In A New Day

30. Meditation 1 (Version)

31. Meditation 2 (Version)

32. Meditation 3 (Version)

33. Meditation 4 (Version)

34. Meditation 5 (Version)

35. Meditation 6 (Version)

x

Track List: The Complete Motown Singles Volume 7

Disc 1

1. Love's Gone Bad

2. Mojo Hannah

3. Love Is Here And Now You're Gone

4. There's No Stopping Us Now

5. Pucker Up Buttercup

6. Anyway You Wannta

7. Chantilly Lace

8. Your Love Is Amazing

9. Till Johnny Comes

10. The Love I Saw In You Was Just A Mirage

11. Come Spy With Me

12. Jimmy Mack

13. Third Finger Left Hand

14. Travlin' Man

15. Hey Love

16. Bernadette (Promo Version)

17. I Got A Feeling

18. Bernadette

19. Gonna Give Her All The Love I've Got

20. World So Wide, Nowhere To Hide (From Your Heart)

21. I Want To Go Back There Again

22. I Love You

23. It's So Hard Being A Loser

24. Your Love Grows More Precious Every Day

Disc 2

1. Just Look What You've Done

2. Starting The Hurt All Over Again

3. Here I Am Baby

4. My World Is Empty Without You

5. Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me

6. Do You Love Me Just A Little, Honey

7. The Happening

8. All I Know About You

9. Got To Have You Back

10. Just Ain't Enough Love

11. There's A Ghost In My House

12. Don't Fool Around

13. Festival Time

14. Joy Road

15. (I Wonder Why) Nobody Loves Me

16. I've Been Blessed

17. When You're Young And In Love

18. The Day You Take One (You Have To Take The Other)

19. All I Need

20. Sorry Is A Sorry Word

21. Ain't No Mountain High Enough

22. Give A Little Love

23. 7-Rooms Of Gloom

24. I'll Turn To Stone

Disc 3

1. Chained

2. Don't Let It Happen To Us

3. Chained (Alternate Mix)

4. For All We Know

5. I Cross My Heart

6. I Was Made To Love Her

7. Hold Me

8. More Love

9. Swept For You Baby

10. It's Been A Long Long Time (A Long Time)

11. I Understand My Man

12. Everybody Needs Love

13. Your Unchanging Love

14. I'll Take Care Of You

15. You're My Everything

16. I've Been Good To You

17. Ain't That The Truth

18. Don't You Miss Me A Little Bit Baby

19. That's The Way Love Is

20. One Too Many Heartaches

Disc 4

1. Reflections

2. Going Down For The Third Time

3. Love Bug Leave My Heart Alone

4. One Way Out

5. Steal Away Tonight

6. For Once In My Life

7. You've Made Me So Very Happy (Promo Version)

8. I've Got To Find It

9. You've Made Me So Very Happy

10. Your Precious Love

11. Hold Me Oh My Darling

12. You Keep Running Away

13. If You Don't Want My Love

14. From Head To Toe

15. The Beginning Of The End

16. Window Shopping

17. California Soul

18. I Got A Feeling

19. You Got Me Hurtin' All Over

20. I'm Wondering

21. Every Time I See You I Go Wild

22. I'm Wondering (Alternate Mix)

23. (Loneliness Made Me Realize) It's You That I Need

24. Don't Send Me Away

Disc 5

1. I Heard It Through The Grapevine

2. It's Time To Go Now

3. I Heard It Through The Grapevine [alternate Mix]

4. I Want My Baby Back

5. Gonna Keep On Tryin' Till I Win Your Love

6. What A Good Man He Is

7. There Are Things

8. I Second That Emotion

9. You Must Be Love

10. In And Out Of Love

11. I Guess I'll Always Love You

12. Honey Chile

13. Show Me The Way

14. Come See About Me

15. Sweet Soul

16. You Haven't Seen My Love

17. Happy Day

18. Two Can Have A Party

19. If I Could Build My Whole World Around You

20. If This World Were Mine

21. My Baby Must Be A Magician

22. I Need Someone

23. I Wish It Would Rain

24. I Truly, Truly Believe (Alternate Mix)

25. I Truly, Truly Believe

26. You

27. At Last (I Found A Love)

28. Change What You Can

x

Track List: The Complete Motown Singles: Vol. 11b: 1971

Disc 1

1. That's The Way A Woman Is

2. In The Jungle

3. That's The Way A Woman Is (Stereo Promo Version)

4. Take Me Girl, I'm Ready

5. Right On Brothers And Sisters

6. Take Me Girl, I'm Ready (Stereo Promo Version)

7. Keep Me

8. Man Without Love

9. And Behold

10. Things We Have To Do

11. And Behold (Stereo Promo Version)

12. You Can Come Right Back To Me

13. Dinah

14. It Takes All Kinds Of People

15. Way You Do The Things You Do

16. It Takes All Kinds Of People (Stereo Promo Version)

17. If You Really Love Me

18. Think Of Me As Your Soldier

19. Can I

20. I Did It All For You

21. Can I (Long Promo Version)

22. My Piece Of Heaven

23. Down, Down

24. My Piece Of Heaven (Stereo Promo Version)

Disc 2

1. Surrender

2. I'm A Winner

3. Can't It Wait Until Tomorrow

4. Back To Nowhere

5. Happiness

6. I Hope I See It In My Lifetime

7. Happiness (Stereo Promo Version)

8. MacArthur Park (Part 2)

9. MacArthur Park (Part 1)

10. Funky Rubber Band

11. Funky Rubber Band (Instrumental)

12. Funky Rubber Band (Stereo Promo Version)

13. I'm An Easy Rider

14. Concrete And Clay

15. I'm An Easy Rider (Stereo Promo Version)

16. Who You Gonna Run To

17. Forgive My Jealousy

18. Act Like A Shotgun

19. Girl I Really Love You

20. Act Like A Shotgun (Stereo Promo Version)

21. Walk Down The Path Of Freedom

22. It's Just A Dream

23. Walk Down The Path Of Freedom (Stereo Promo Version)

24. Heaven Must Have Sent You (Stereo Promo Version)

Disc 3

1. Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)

2. Wholy Holy

3. Touch

4. It's So Hard For Me To Say Goodbye

5. Touch (Stereo Promo Version)

6. Bless You

7. Hope I Don't Get My Heart Broke

8. Bless You (Stereo Promo Version)

9. Colour Combination

10. Swim

11. Colour Combination (Stereo Promo Version)

12. Got To Be There

13. Maria (You Were The Only One)

14. Got To Be There (Stereo Promoversion)

15. I'm Still Waiting

16. Simple Thing Like Cry

17. Zip A Dee Doo Dah

18. Bah Bah Bah

19. Zip A Dee Doo Dah (Stereo Promo Version)

20. Whatever Happened To Love

21. Baby I Need Your Loving

22. Whatever Happened To Love (Stereo Promo Version)

23. When Sundown Comes

24. Flower Girl

Disc 4

1. Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)

2. Gonna Keep On Tryin' Till I Win Your Love

3. Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are) (Stereo Promo Version)

4. Satisfaction

5. Satisfaction (Alternate Mix)

6. We've Only Just Begun / I'll Bethere

7. I Can Get Away From You (But I Can't Get Over You)

8. We've Only Just Begun / I'll Bethere (Stereo Promo Version)

9. Hey Lordy

10. Just A Little Bit Closer

11. I Want To Go Back There Again

12. Pick Of The Week

13. I Want To Go Back There Again (Stereo Promo Version)

14. Hey Big Brother

15. Under God's Light

16. Hey Big Brother (Stereo Promoversion)

17. Way Back Home

18. Way Back Home (Instrumental)

19. Way Back Home (Stereo Promo Version)

20. We All End Up In Boxes

21. We All End Up In Boxes (Stereo Promo Version)

22. I Can't Believe You're Really Leaving

23. You Ain't Sayin' Nothin' New

24. I Can't Believe You're Reallyleaving (Stereo Promo Version)

Disc 5

1. You Make Your Own Heaven And Hell Right Here On Earth

2. Ball Of Confusion (That's What The World Is Today)

3. Make Me The Woman That You Gohome To

4. It's All Over But The Shoutin'

5. Sugar Daddy

6. I'm So Happy

7. Sugar Daddy (Stereo Promo Version)

8. Simple Song Of Freedom

9. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight

10. Simple Song Of Freedom (Alternate Mix)

11. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight (Alternate Mix)

12. Greatest Man Who Ever Lived

13. Child Is Waiting

14. What Christmas Means To Me

15. Bedtime For Toys

16. What Christmas Means To Me (Stereo Promo Version)

17. Floy Joy

18. This Is The Story

19. Floy Joy (Stereo Promo Version)

20. In And Out Of My Life

21. Your Love Makes It All Worthwhile

22. In And Out Of My Life (Stereopromo Version)

23. T.L.C. (Tender Loving Care)

24. T.L.C. (Tender Loving Care) (Stereo Promo Version)

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First white act to be signed to Motown. They also claim to be the first to do a rock opera live.

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