16 June 2011

Patrice Holloway

Love And Desire

CDKEND 354
Love and Desire
The Patrice Holloway Anthology
featuring Stolen Hours, Lucky My Boy, Ecstasy, Love And Desire, That's All You Gotta Do, Stay With Your Own Kind, Evidence, The Chance You Gotta Take, Black Mother Goose, Touch Of Venus, Those Deejay Shows, For The Love Of Mike, Stevie, My Two Arms Minus You, Come Into My Palace, All That's Good, I Gotta Change, Tall Boy, Flippity-Flop, The "Go" Gang, Love Walked Right In, Crying, Face In The Crowd, Surf Stomp and The Boy Of My Dreams
released in 2011

"Patrice Holloway's Buried Treasures"
An AndruCharlz Production
Reviewed by AndruCharlz
Additional Production and Remix by Donny Jacobs

Well, let's see: Highly respected and beloved by the singers, musicians and producers she worked with, but treated with indifference by record-industry bigwigs . . . gainfully employed as a session singer, even making some TV history along the way, but never getting the public recognition she deserved . . . falling victim to a debilitating disease that ends her career and, ultimately, her life.

Such is the story of Patrice Holloway, who at last gets some of her due with Love and Desire: The Patrice Holloway Anthology,  a new collection from Ace Records' Kent imprint. This is the first full-length album devoted entirely to Patrice's work, and it has some stunners.

Most of the CD is devoted to Patrice's 1963-65 work for Motown Records, most of which has just been liberated from the vaults. Barely a teenager, Patrice along with her older sister Brenda signed with Motown in 1963.  They were the first West Coast artists to record for the label; but while Brenda went on to enjoy three Top 40 Tamla/Motown singles, including the sublime Top Twenty "Every Little Bit Hurts," only one of Patrice's Motown tracks would ever be released . . . and even that one, "The Boy Of My Dreams", was quickly withdrawn from sale. Reportedly, Motown boss Berry Gordy, Jr. advised Patrice to finish her schooling before going full-tilt on the career. Sage advice, to be sure . . . but in light of how her career stalled, could it have also been a warning?

Of the Motown tracks that finally see the light of day here, my favorites include "Tall Boy," "All That's Good" (one of several Patrice tracks written and produced by Smokey Robinson), the Diana Ross & The Supremes reject "Those Deejay Shows"(how many deejays would have used that one as a theme had it been released?), "Love Walked Right In," "Touch of Venus" and the Phil Spector-influenced "Face In the Crowd." I'm not quite sure what to make of two other songs: "Surf Stomp", a retread of an early single by Patrice's one-time boyfriend Stevie Wonder, and "The 'Go' Gang", a blatant rip-off of Dobie Gray's "The In-Crowd". To me, these cuts sound more appropriate for a second-string teen idol; yet Patrice and company do perform them with remarkable force and intensity. They're not bad, really, just kind of odd.

The future Pussycat's teenage vocals were every bit as strong as they would later be, but her phrasing was very unpolished . . . perhaps too much so for commercial purposes.  Motown no doubt thought so.  After letting her languish on the vine, the company cut Patrice loose in 1965. According to Brenda Holloway, Berry Gordy, Jr. wanted to groom her for a behind-the-scenes role in his business division, but her little sister turned him down.  She was determined to sing!  The next year, she landed at Capitol Records, where, with sibling writer/producers Gene and Billy Page at the helm, she finally got something released.

Three superb singles came out of Patrice's first stint at Capitol. "Stolen Hours", "Love And Desire" and "Stay With Your Own Kind" were all high-quality releases, but there was little or no chart action. "Stolen Hours" in particular was a tour-de-force, a proto-Disco stomper that debuted the alternately cooing and shouting vocal style that Patty became known for. The pounding "Love And Desire" sounded like a Motown outtake, and its Wall of Sound-drenched flipside "Ecstasy" might have been the session mate of "Face In The Crowd".

Lou Rawls's producer David Axelrod helmed "Stay With Your Own Kind", significant for being one of the first interracial love ballads; but Patty's smouldering performance of Willie Hutch's fabulous Northern Soul nugget "That's All You Gotta Do", hidden away on the flipside, was the real keeper. The improvement in Patrice's phrasing over the passage of two years, from the low point of "Surf Stomp" to the high point of "Stolen Hours", is just astonishing!  Had Mr. Gordy persevered with her just a little longer, he might have found himself grooming a superstar instead of a business manager.

Upon leaving Capitol in '67, the Divine Miss H drifted into session work, participating in an excellent but unheralded album of Bob Dylan songs done Gospel-style. Released on Lou Adler's Ode label, Dylan's Gospel became an instant collector's item, just like most of the other waxings Patrice was involved with.  During this period, she sang back-ups on several West Coast-waxed Motown hits including Diana Ross & The Supremes' "Someday We'll Be Together", and saw a Blood, Sweet and Tears recording called "You've Made Me So Very Happy" score a #2 Pop smash.  The original version had been released by Brenda Holloway, with whom Patty had co-written the song.  The following year(1970), she auditioned for "Josie and the Pussycats," a new Hanna-Barbera cartoon series based on an Archie spin-off comic strip.  Songwriter/producer Danny Janssen was cutting a musical soundtrack for the show, and he needed girls to sing the parts.

Janssen was knocked out by Patrice's talent, and insisted, no, demanded that she be one of the singing voices on the show.  Hanna-Barbera accomodated him by making Valerie Smith, one of Josie's Pussycats, the first African-American female regular on an American cartoon.  (It should be pointed out, however, that Patrice did not provide Valerie's speaking voice. That role was filled by actress Barbara Pariot.) The other two girls who would sing as The Pussycats were aspiring opera diva Kathleen Dougherty(Josie James) and itinerant rocker Cheryl Jean Stoppelmoor(Melody Jones), later to become famous as Cheryl Ladd, my favorite Charlie's Angel.

Cheryl Jean was actually the group's frontwoman(Kathleen was more comfortable singing background harmonies), singing lead on most of the soundtrack numbers.  However, Patty asserted herself in the studio, asking for and getting lead vocal duties on ten J&TP songs.  Those performances include the show's frantic theme, "Josie"; both sides of the group's two Capitol singles ("You've Come A Long Way, Baby"/"Stop, Look And Listen" and "Every Beat Of My Heart"/"It's All Right With Me"); the rousing album tracks "Watch Out For The Roadrunner" and "Clappin' Your Hands"; the commercially unreleased "Clock On The Wall"; and everybody's favorite Pussycat track, "Voodoo." If only these gems had been included on Love and Desire!  So far, their only CD appearance has been on a limited-edition Rhino Handmade compilation, just barely released ten years ago.

Patrice's work on the Josie project ended after a year, but Danny Janssen was so determined to work with her again, he persuaded Capitol to sign her for a second time. This second stint (1971-2) resulted in two singles co-produced by her friend and frequent session mate Clarence MacDonald:  "Evidence", a funky Blues ballad co-written by "Dolemite" cult star Rudy Ray Moore, and the delightful "Black Mother Goose," an unusual (to say the least) combination of Bubblegum and Black pride! Sadly, these releases met the same cold reception as Patty's previous Capitol singles: Few heard, few bought, and Miss H was soon headed back to the session grind.

She wouldn't stay there much longer, though.  Building up over several years, mental health problems began taking their toll.  By 1975,  she was forced to retire from music.  An astute businesswoman who managed her own money as well as a single mother, Patrice had to leave her investments and the care of her son Nikko for others to manage.  More mature in some ways than her older sister Brenda, in the end she was reduced to an almost childlike mentality.  She spent the rest of her life in and out of treatment, and died of a heart attack in 2006.  One of popular music's most exciting voices is now silent forever.

A sad ending, yes.  A frustrated career, yes . . . but happily, Patrice Yvonne Holloway left behind a rich legacy of music that now, thanks to Ace/Kent, we can fully experience and enjoy. Love and Desire is an essential purchase for Patrice Holloway fans in particular and Soul aficionados in general; to paraphrase that million-selling song she co-wrote, it will make you so very happy!  A general-release Josie and The Pussycats collection would delight us all even more; how's about it, Ace Records?

Early Brenda Holloway

Ace Records' 2009 CD Brenda Holloway: The Early Years includes Patrice Holloway's rare first single, "Do The Dell-Viking, Parts One and Two" which features sister Brenda and producer Hal Davis on back-up vocals.