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Martha & The Vandellas

Along with the Supremes, Martha & the Vandellas defined the distaff side of the Motown sound in the '60s. Their biggest hits, including "Heat Wave," "Dancing in the Street," and "Nowhere to Run," remain among the most potent and enduring dance records of the era. The vocal group was led by Martha Reeves who, along with fellow Detroit natives Annette Sterling Beard, Gloria Williams, and Rosalind Ashford, founded the Del-Phis in 1960. After Reeves landed a secretarial position at the offices of Motown Records, the Del-Phis were tapped to record a one-off single for the label's Melody imprint, which they cut under the name the Vels.

The single fizzled, and Williams exited, reducing the group to a trio. After backing Marvin Gaye on the superb 1962 record "Stubborn Kind of Fellow," they were renamed Martha & the Vandellas, taking inspiration from Detroit's Van Dyke Street and Reeves' heroine, Della Reese. When singer Mary Wells failed to show up for a recording date, musicians' union rules demanded that a vocalist be found to fulfill contractual obligations. As a result, Reeves was yanked from the secretarial pool and laid down what would become Martha & the Vandellas' first record, 1963's "I'll Have to Let Him Go."

The Top 30 success of the ballad "Come and Get These Memories" brought the group the attention of Motown's hit-making production team Holland-Dozier-Holland, who crafted their next smash, the galvanizing Top Five classic "Heat Wave," which perfected the mix of impassioned call-and-response vocals, pulsing rhythms, and full-bodied horns that became the trio's trademark. Following another Top Ten hit, "Quicksand," Beard retired, and was replaced by former Velvelette Betty Kelly. After singer Kim Weston turned down the Marvin Gaye/Ivy Jo Hunter/Mickey Stevenson composition "Dancing in the Street," the song was shuttled to Martha & the Vandellas; refashioned by Holland-Dozier-Holland to fit the group's formula, the anthem became their biggest hit and definitive statement, reaching number two in the summer of 1964. A year later, they returned with another smash, the savage "Nowhere to Run," followed by "I'm Ready for Love."

In 1967, Kelly exited, and was replaced by Reeves' younger sister Lois; on subsequent releases, the group was billed as Martha Reeves & the Vandellas. 1967's "Jimmy Mack" and "Honey Chile" were the last records overseen by the Holland-Dozier-Holland team before their defection from Motown, and were also the final significant Vandellas hits. In 1968, Martha Reeves fell seriously ill, and in 1969 Ashford departed, with another former Velvelette, Sandra Tilley, assuming her position. The trio continued unsuccessfully for a few more years before breaking up in the wake of a December 1972 farewell performance at Detroit's Cobo Hall. After Motown relocated its corporate offices to Los Angeles (a move Reeves denied she was privy to), the singer, who had begun a solo career, sued to have her contract with the label annulled. In her 1994 autobiography, Dancing in the Street, she charged that the Vandellas' career, though highly successful in its own right, could have been even greater had Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr. given their music the same obsessive attention he afforded to Diana Ross & the Supremes.

Reeves recorded her debut solo effort, Martha Reeves, for MCA in 1974. Though a few more LPs followed, including 1976's The Rest of My Life and 1978's We Meet Again, she received little notice on her own, and eventually suffered a pair of nervous breakdowns that led to a brief period of institutionalization. Lois Reeves, meanwhile, went on to work with Al Green, while Sandra Tilley retired from music; she died in 1982 following surgery on a brain tumor. In 1989, Martha Reeves, Annette Beard, and Rosalind Ashford successfully sued Motown for back royalties, and occasionally reunited for performances in the '90s. Reeves also continued as a solo artist, and in addition performed with a Vandellas unit consisting of Lois and a third sister, Delphine. She released another solo album, the independent Home to You, in 2004. From 2005 through 2009, she served on Detroit's city council. Afterward, she aligned with a non-profit organization to help musicians receive royalties, and she continued to be an active performer with the Vandellas. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Dancing In The Street

1. Dancing In The Street

2. Heat Wave

3. Jimmy Mack

4. I'm Ready For Love

5. Nowhere To Run

6. Forget Me Not

7. Love Bug Leave My Heart Alone

8. A Love Like Yours (Don't Come Knocking Everyday)

9. Without You

10. Happiness Is Guaranteed

11. Wild One

12. Quicksand

x

Track List: Watchout!

1. I'm Ready For Love

2. One Way Out

3. Jimmy Mack

4. Let This Day Be

5. Keep It Up

6. Happiness Is Guaranteed

7. I'll Follow You

8. No More Tearstained Make Up

9. Go Ahead And Laugh

10. What Am I Going To Do Without Your Love

11. Tell Me I'll Never Be Alone

12. He Doesn't Love Her Anymore

x

Track List: Sugar 'N Spice

1. Taking My Love (And Leaving Me)

2. Shoe Leather Expressway

3. You're The Loser Now

4. I'm A Winner

5. What Now My Love

6. Soul Appeal

7. Loneliness Is A Lonely Feelin'

8. I Love The Man

9. It Ain't Like That

10. I Can't Get Along Without You

11. Heartless

12. I Hope That You Have Better Luck Than I Did

x

Track List: The Definitive Collection

1. Come And Get These Memories (Mono)

2. (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave (Extended Stereo Mix)

3. Nowhere To Run

4. In My Lonely Room (Mono)

5. Dancing In The Street

6. Quicksand (Mono)

7. Love (Makes Me Do Foolish Things) (Mono)

8. Live Wire (Mono)

9. I'm Ready For Love

10. A Love Like Yours (Don't Come Knocking Everyday)

11. Wild One (Single Version)

12. Third Finger, Left Hand (Extended Stereo Mix)

13. Honey Chile (Mono)

14. You've Been In Love Too Long

15. Jimmy Mack (Extended Stereo Mix)

16. Love Bug Leave My Heart Alone

17. Bless You (Mono)

18. My Baby Loves Me (Mono)

x

Track List: Lost & Found

Disc 1

1. Time Changes Things

2. Someday Someway

3. I Can't Take It

4. All That Glitters Isn't Gold

5. Coney Island

6. Spellbound

7. Too Far Gone To Save Myself

8. Missing Lover

9. It's Your Wedding Day

10. I Got It Bad

11. Too Much Pressure On My Heart

12. That's How Bad

13. I Can't Understand It

14. Keep Stepping (Never Look Back)

15. You Neglect Me

16. You've Been On My Mind

17. I Can't Help It (I Love You)

18. Save Some Room In Your Heart

19. Hold On I'm Coming

20. If You Don't Want My Love

21. Since You've Been Gone

22. Love Where Are You Hiding

23. For Once In My Life

24. Back-To-School Promo

Disc 2

1. Looking In The Mirror

2. A Little Bit Of Heaven (On A Little Patch Of Earth)

3. Candy Man

4. I'm Glad You Belong To Me

5. It Must Be Him

6. Oh, I've Been Blessed

7. I Can't Erase The Way I Feel

8. I've Got To See You

9. Since You've Been Gone (Sweet, Sweet Baby)

10. Operation Teamwork

11. Take It Off

12. Full Speed Ahead

13. I'll Take A Raincheck (If Love Invites Me)

14. Is There A Place (In His Heart For Me)

15. In A World Of My Own

16. Standing Ovation

17. Earthquake

18. Build Your Love On A Strong Foundation

19. Where Was I (When Love Came By)

20. There's Love In This World

21. Let Me Fall In Love With You

22. Talking 'Bout Love

23. Ain't My Stuff Good Enough

x

Track List: 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best Of Martha Reeves & The Vandellas

1. Dancing In The Street

2. Nowhere To Run

3. Jimmy Mack

4. My Baby Loves Me (Mono)

5. In My Lonely Room (Mono)

6. I'm Ready For Love

7. (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave

8. Come And Get These Memories (Mono)

9. Love (Makes Me Do Foolish Things) (Mono)

10. Quicksand (Mono)

11. Honey Chile (Mono)

x

Track List: Martha Reeves & The Vandellas: The Ultimate Collection

1. Come And Get These Memories

2. Heat Wave

3. Wild One

4. In My Lonely Room

5. Dancing In The Street

6. Quicksand

7. Love

8. Live Wire

9. I'm Ready For Love

10. A Love Like Yours

11. Third Finger Left Hand

12. Nowhere To Run

13. I Can't Dance To That Music You're Playin'

14. Tear It On Down

15. Honey Chile

16. You've Been In Love Too Long

17. Motoring

18. I Promise To Wait My Love

19. Forget Me Not

20. Jimmy Mack

21. I Should Be Proud

22. Love Bug Leave My Heart Alone

23. Bless You

24. Darling, I Hum Our Song

25. My Baby Loves Me

Comments

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heat wave tonite in Ohio low of 15
Report as inappropriate
If only I had your phone number.love ,love,love,m a k e s m e do these these
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Martha's voice on her recording of " Love " with the Vandellas is so rich and pure that it surely must be related to the angels and heaven above .
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The town I live in is on the map on the Motown LABEL!!!
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I LOVE THE SONG !!!
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YESSSS BEING FROM DETROIT IT WAS GOOD GROWING UP IN THE MOTOR CITY.
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Love
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aldeana54
Heatwave and Dancing In The Street still sounds good after all these years!!!
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Martha's version of "Love" is so sweet so good .
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How true walking into walls at. 15 yrs old
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Love love love makes me do these things. How true
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❤❤❤❤❤
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Love ,Love, Love
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peace132
I love the Motown sound
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This one of my favorite song takes me back to the old time when life was simple
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lets dance in the street instead of shoot in the street ihere in Dc go martha so many happy memories
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I remember so well " dancing in the middle of the street dancing to that song!! Great memory like it was just Today""
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Johnny love never go aways
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MEMORIES, sure bring back the good old days. RQ/rlh
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remember getting up, getting ready for school listening to motown! Man, I miss those days!
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kimamellor
'Dancing in the Streets' ? -- a coded call to get out to the streets and riot due to failing civil rights response in Wash.D.C. etc. Just found that out and YES MARTHA!!!
Report as inappropriate
rachvandyke
don't read this.you will be kissed by the love of your life on friday.tommo r o w will be the greatest day of your life.post this on 5 other stations and press f6 and the love of your lives name will pop up
Report as inappropriate
t_heath
Jimmy Mack is such a great song!!
Report as inappropriate
Loved them songs listening when my older siblings were jamming at parties~~~~
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love martha
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still going strong
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Motown favorite
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jrsjrsjrs57
This heatwave is getting me hot
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jrsjrsjrs57
Sweeeeet music You think
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Heat Wave...loved this song since I was a little girl. My parents would put it on and I would just start dancing....l i k e I am now
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Heat wave! Sound like a party!
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Great song .....heat wave...
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msvglove1
Jimmy ain't coming back move on
Report as inappropriate
Mom always played the songs of The Vandellas. Love all of The Motown greats.
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MARTHA REEVES WAS THE QUEEN OF MOTOWN RECORDS AND OTHER WOMANS FOLLOWED IN HER FOOTSTEPS LOVE U SMILE..
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Soo many memories of summer in JAX
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So many summertime fun filled memories! My kind of music!
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Imissmarha songsit was so hot
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Great Motown group, but not quite equal to Supremes! Heat Wave is a classic and one of my all-time favorites.
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cbwasher
I'm glad Martha & the group still perform and she back n track I still love
the music.
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pleiadian0
This was definitely Motown's finest group. With the same backing, the Supremes would have come in second place.
Pleiadian49
Report as inappropriate
I wish the artists of today would make this kind of music...
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adr74380
Love is Beautiful when you r missing somebody .
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akamui
I like this song
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akamui
Are you guys deus
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akamui
Hi
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This song is definitely a classic, too bad they don't play or make music like this anymore. This was when music actually had meaning and real talent
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johnharris48
This was a terrific song when I was in H.S. Just don't have groups like this today..what happened to talent? Now it's all stupid fluff.
Report as inappropriate
Great songs like these will outlast and outplay today's garbage by hundreds of years, and maybe indefinitely . Lady ga ga & Katy Perry will be just other costumes in the closet.
Report as inappropriate
Not better than the Supremes, but a great Motown group.
Show more

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