The Mirettes


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1(1966-71)

- Venetta Fields -- vocals

- Robbie Montgomery (aka Robbie Artette) -- vocals

- Jessie Smith -- vocals 

 

  line up 2(1971)

- Robbie Montgomery (aka Robbie Artette) -- vocals

NEW - Pat Powdrill -- vocals (replaced Venetta Fields)

- Jessie Smith -- vocals 

 

 

 

- The Belles (Venetta Fields, Robbie Montgomery, and 

  Jessie Smith)

- Venetta Fields (solo efforts)

 

 

 


 

Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  In the Midnight Hour

Company: Revue

Catalog: RS 7205
Year:
 1968

Country/State: St. Louis, Missouri

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 1619

Price: SOLD $30.00

 

If you've ever looked at the Ikettes alumni list, it looks like about half of the women in music were an Ikette at one time or another.   Starting in 1964, Ike and Tina Turner's backing group featured vocalists  Venetta Fields, Robbie Montgomery, and  Jessie Smith.   The fact the three lasted with the Turners through 1967 speaks highly of their strength and character.

 

left to right: Jessie Smith, Robbie Montgomery, and Venetta Fields.

By the mid-'60s The Ikettes had enjoyed a couple of hits on their own, but their efforts saw little financial compensation.  With Ike Turner owning The Ikettes nameplate, Field, Montgomery and Smith decided to step out on their own under The Mirettes nameplate.

 

Initially signed by the small California Mirwood label, they released a pair of swinging soul singles:

- 1966's  'He's All Right With Me ' b/w 'Your Kind Ain't No Good' (Mirwood catalog number 5514)

- 1967's  'Now That I've Found You, Baby' b/w ''He's Alright With Me' (Mirwood catalog number 5531)

 

Neither did much commercially, but Minit signed them releasing a one-off:

 

- 1968's 'Help Wanted' b/w 'Play Fair'  (Minit catalog number 32045)

 

Signed by the Uni affiliated Revue label, The Mirettes made their album debut with 1968's "In the Midnight Hour".  Produced by Jerry Goldstein (he also contributed several songs to the album), the collection framed The Mirettes in a mixture of contemporary soul and more MOR-ish pop tunes. The big problem wasn't their lack of talent.   All three were impressive singers bringing a gritty swagger to the mix that would have simply killed more "sophisticated" groups like The Supremes.  The big shortcoming was the lack of consistency.  Soul tunes like 'Take Me for a Little While', 'I'm a Whole New Thing', and their cover of Wilson Pickett's 'In the Midnight Hour' were great. Unfortunately, the album wasn't full of songs like that.  As non-writers they were totally dependent of producer Goldstein to bring them material and he let them down when it came to songs like 'Somewhere' (From "West Side Story")' and 'Tweedle Dee'.   Very similar to many mid-'60s Motown releases, the end result sold the group short, resulting in a sey that was simply a bit disappointing.  

 

"In the Midnight Hour" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Take Me for a Little While   (T. Martin) - 2:56   rating: **** stars

I'm not sure which of the ladies handled lead on 'Take Me for a Little While', but the result was a totally amazing slice of gal group soul.  The pounding bass line would have made Jamie Jamerson smile.  Even cooler was the strange keyboard sound that opened and closed the song.   Revue tapped the tune as the album's second single:

- 1968's 'Take Me for a Little While' b/w 'Real Thing' (Revue catalog number R 11017)

2.) The Real Thing   (Jerry Goldstein) - 3:14   rating: *** stars

Penned by producer Goldstein, 'The Real Thing' offered up a sweet, heavily orchestrated ballad.  To my ears it's always sounded a bit like a Dionne Warwick tune.   

3.) I'm a Whole New Thing   (Jerry Goldstein - R. Regan) - 3:14   rating: **** stars

It was a touch on the shrieky side, but overall The Mirettes seldom sounded as radio ready as on 'I'm a Whole New Thing'.  Always loved the cool guitar on this one - kind of Delaney and Bonnie feel.  This one was also released as a single:

- 1968's 'I'm a Whole New Thing' b/w 'First Love' (Revue catalog number R 11029)    

4.)    (C. Sidney - R. Whiting) - 2:28  rating: *** stars  

I remember seeing this cover on the track listing and expecting to hear a throwaway filler tune - the same kind of MOR-crap  thing Motown cluttered its albums with.  Well, it's the same song Shirley Temple recorded and while it wasn't great, they brought more soul to the tune than anyone could have expected. 

5.) Somewhere (From "West Side Story")   (Leonard Bernstein -  R. Whiting) - 3:02   rating: * star

Remember the earlier comments about Motown padding albums with throwaway MOR tunes?  Well producer Goldstein apparently found himself in a similar position.   Yech.

 

(side 2)

1.) Keep On Running  (J. Edwards) - 2:40   rating: *** stars  

Nice Stax-flavored cover of the Jackie Edwards tune, though it won't make you forget the ska rhythm original.

2.) First Love    (Jerry Goldstein) - 2:10   rating: *** stars  

'First Love' was another pretty ballad, but again sounded a bit like one of the Bacharach-David tunes Dionne Warwick rode into the charts. 

3.) Tweedle Dee   (W. Scott)- 3:18  rating: * stars

Simply way too cute for the group's own good.  Easy to picture them on The Mike Douglas Show, or some other daytime interview program doing this loser.  If you want to hear this one, go for the Lavern Baker version. 

4.) To Love Somebody  (Robin Gibb - Barry Gibb) - 3:28   rating: **** stars

Given The Bee Gees original always irritated me, The Mirettes cover was a nice update. The basic song melody and structure wasn't that much different, but The Bee Gees bleating was replaced by some nice Memphis-styled soul moves.   The guitar sure sounded like Steve Cropper.

5.) In the Midnight Hour   (Wilson Pickett - Steve Cropper) - 3:25     rating: **** stars

Producer Goldstein was smart enough to leave the original arrangement intact, but kudos to these ladies for having the courage to take on this Wilson Pickett classic.  Not only did they dare take it on, but their cover was actually quite impressive.  Revue tapped it as the leadoff single:

- 1968's In the Midnight Hour' b/w 'To Love Somebody' (Revue catalog number R 11029) 

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Whirlpool

Company: Uni

Catalog: 73062
Year:
 1969

Country/State: St. Louis, Missouri

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 

Catalog ID: 1454

Price: $70.00

 

Signed by Uni Records, the group's second album, 1969's "Whirlpool" was co-produced by Dick Cooper, Clarence Paul, and Ernie Shelby.  Largely penned by Cooper, Paul, and Shelby, musically the set featured a diverse mixture of pop and soul tunes.  Almost uniformly commercial, Fields handled the majority of lead vocals, but all three women were gifted singers capable of creating some very nice harmonies.  While there wasn't a truly bad performance on the collection, the ladies were at their best when working in the soul end of the spectrum.  Highlights included the scathing 'Sister Watch Yourself',  the title track (also released as a single), 'Heart Full of Gladness', and the lone original tune  - Montgomery's lovely 'So Lonely'. 

 

"Whirlpool" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Sister Watch Yourself   (Ernie Shelby - Clarence Paul) - 2:40   rating: **** stars

Wow !   In your face funky feminist warning about what scumbags men are.  Sung with a sense of passion and conviction that would have made Aretha proud.   Thing is they were right on the mark.  We guys are such a collection of lowlifes.

2.) Something's Wrong   (Ernie Shelby - Clarence Paul - Dick Cooper) - 2:22   rating: *** stars

Breezy blues number which showcased the trio's ensemble voices. 

3.) Whirlpool    (Ernie Shelby - Clarence Paul - Dick Cooper) - 2:59   rating: **** stars

The title track was a slinky, slightly ominous ballad with a hook that should have seen it plastered all over top-40 radio.  Fields sounded like her life was on the line.  Uni quickly tapped the tune as the third single:

 

  

 

- 1969's 'Whirlpool' b/w 'Ain't You Trying to Cross Over' (Uni catalog number 55147)

4.) So Lonely   (Robbie Montgomery) - 2:35   rating: **** stars

Penned and sung by  Montgomery, 'So Lonely' was a sweet, breezy mid-tempo tune with a great melody and one of the albums' best numbers.  You had to wonder if Montgomery had other material and, if so, how come she wasn't given the chance to showcase it.     A charmer that showcased their wonderful harmonies (The Supremes should have been envious) and would have made a nice single.    

5.) At Last (I Found a Love)  (E. Stover - Marvin Gaye - Anna Gaye) - 2:37   rating: **** stars

Side one's closer  found the trio's Gospel roots showing themselves on the rollicking 'At Last (I Found a Love)'.  Mind you this was a secular tune, but the delivery simply dripped Gospel influences.  

 

(side 2)
1.)  Heart Full of Gladness
    (Ernie Shelby - Clarence Paul - Dick Cooper) - 3:05   rating: **** stars

Released as the second single, 'Heart Full of Gladness' was probably the album's most commercial and radio friendly tune.  Opening up with harpsichord, the tune had a great, pounding melody with one of those self-empowerment lyrics that made you simply start bopping along.

  

- 1969's Hear Full of Gladness' b/w 'Ain't You Trying to Cross Over' ('Uni catalog number 55126)

2.) Ain't You Tryin' To Cross Over   (Ernie Shelby - Dick Cooper)  - 2:53   rating: *** stars

Interesting tune had kind of a retro '60s girls group sound going for it.   The track ended up serving as the 'B' side for the second and third singles off the album.

3.) If Everybody'd Help Somebody   (Clarence Paul - Ernie Shelby) - 2:40   rating: *** stars

Heartfelt Gospel shouter with Venetta Fields on lead. Shame they faded the tune out so early.  

4.) Stand By Your Man   (Tammi Wynette - B. Sherrill) - 2:53   rating: *** stars

Since she wrote it and enjoyed a massive chart hit with the song, I guess Tammi Wynette will always be known as the song's torch holder  That said, The Mirettes turned in a surprisingly enjoyable "souled-up" cover of the tune.  Great melodic bass lines on this one.  Uni tapped it as the album's first single:

 

  

- 1969's 'Stand By Your Man' b/w ' If Everybody'd Help Somebody' (Uni catalog number 55110)   

5.) I Miss My Baby (How I Miss You)   (Clarence Paul - L. Broadnax)  - 2:35   rating: *** stars

 

 

 

 

 

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