Here’s a great song by the relatively obscure Syreeta Wright (or Rita Wright, depending on who you ask). I first heard it via Jeff Beck’s cover of it on the 1972 album Jeff Beck Group. Their version is an instrumental, with Mr. Beck playing the vocal melody almost note for note on the slide guitar. It’s my favorite song on that record, as it so happens, but since I first heard it in the pre-YouTube, pre-Wikipedia days, getting more information about it was difficult. These days, of course, it’s not as much of a problem.
The song was originally written for Diana Ross and the Supremes by a superstar lineup of Motown songwriters: Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, and Brian Holland (one third of the Holland-Dozier-Holland writing team). For whatever reason, the Supremes did not record it initially, and it was given to Syreeta as her debut single. It failed to chart (which I find astonishing), and afterwards she went on to have a modest solo career. For a brief period of time in the early ’70s, she was married to Stevie Wonder, and even co-wrote one of my favorite songs of his, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”. She passed away in 2004.
There are a few other decent versions of this song floating around, all recorded within a short period of time after Wright’s original version.
Diana Ross eventually recorded it in 1968, although I think it’s pretty inferior to Wright’s version.
Here’s the Jeff Beck Group version, which beefs things up a bit.
Dusty Springfield also recorded a version in 1968 for her album Dusty…Definitely, and like pretty much all of her cover versions in that period, it sounds nearly identical to the original. Her voice is a bit lower, though, and it adds a different color to the song.