Jimmy Mack

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"Jimmy Mack"
Single by Martha and the Vandellas
from the album Watchout!
B-side "Third Finger, Left Hand"
Released February 3, 1967
Format 7" single
Recorded Hitsville U.S.A. (Studio A); March 2, 1964
Genre Soul/pop
Length 2:53
Label Gordy
G 7058
Writer(s) Holland–Dozier–Holland
Producer(s) Brian Holland
Lamont Dozier
Martha and the Vandellas singles chronology
"I'm Ready for Love"
(1966)
"Jimmy Mack"
(1967)
"Love Bug Leave My Heart Alone"
(1967)
Music sample
"Jimmy Mack"
Single by Sheena Easton
from the album Do You
Released 1985
Genre Pop
Length 4:12
Writer(s) Holland–Dozier–Holland
Producer(s) Nile Rodgers

"Jimmy Mack" is a 1967 pop/soul single recorded by Martha and the Vandellas for Motown's Gordy imprint. Written and produced by Motown's main creative team, Holland–Dozier–Holland, "Jimmy Mack" was the final Top 10 hit for the Vandellas in the United States, peaking at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967 and at number-one on the Billboard R&B Singles chart.[1]

History[edit]

The song, with lead vocal by Vandellas' lead singer Martha Reeves, is narrated by a woman who longs for her boyfriend, named "Jimmy Mack", to return to her. The narrator is being courted by another suitor, whom she notes "talks just as sweet as" her long-gone Jimmy, and hopes for him to return before her resistance is worn down.

The inspiration for this song came from a 1964 music industry awards dinner, which Lamont Dozier attended. At the ceremony the mother of the songwriter Ronnie Mack accepted an award for her son, who had recently died, for his composition He's So Fine. Under pressure to come up with a hit for Reeves and the Vandellas, Dozier and the team penned this song in part a tribute to Mack the writer.[2]

"Jimmy Mack" was originally recorded in 1964 when Annette Beard was still a part of the group. The song was shelved because the Motown Quality Control team felt the recording was not suitable for release with the Vietnam War going on. Like Smokey Robinson & the Miracles' later hit, "The Tears of a Clown", "Jimmy Mack" was pulled from the vault two years later and released as a single in early 1967. By that time, the Vietnam War had become a highly debated issue among the American public. Thus, Reeves' sentiment that her "Jimmy Mack" return took on a different meaning for many listeners, particularly those stationed overseas.[3]

"Jimmy Mack" was a success, peaking at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming the second and final Vandellas single to top the Billboard R&B chart. The song had been included on the Vandellas' LP Watchout!, issued a month before the single release. For nearly forty years, "Jimmy Mack" was presented in either monaural sound or in a mix culled from an alternate take. A true stereo mix of the original single master was not done until 2006, for the compilation Martha & the Vandellas: Gold.

Personnel[edit]

Other versions[edit]

Sheena Easton's remake of "Jimmy Mack" was issued as the second single from her 1985 Do You album to peak at #65. The song has also been remade by Laura Nyro (on the 1971 Gonna Take a Miracle album featuring Labelle), Charity Brown, Bonnie Pointer and Phil Collins (on the 2010 Going Back album). Karen Carpenter recorded "Jimmy Mack" version of this song for her solo album but it was never released.

Trivia[edit]

British comedy duo Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders used the song in their television programme in a sketch which parodied British girl group Bananarama. Lananeeneenoonoo (the name of the fictitious group in the sketch which featured Kathy Burke as the third member) were shown recording a cover version of and making a video for "Jimmy Mack" in the style of Bananarama, who had previously covered the Motown songs "He Was Really Sayin' Somethin'" and "Nathan Jones".

The name is used in a song by one of Eddie Argos' various bands named 'Everybody was in the French Resistance...Now'. The song is called 'Hey It's Jimmy Mack' and is a response from the Jimmy Mack in the original song, giving his side of the story.

The song is heard playing on the radio while two soldiers discuss Martha & The Vandellas in a season two episode of the Vietnam War television drama Tour of Duty.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 378. 
  2. ^ Jimmy Mack Songfacts
  3. ^ Mariscal, Jorge (Mar. 22, 2003). "Johnny Mack, When Are You Coming Back?" . Counter Punch. Retrieved from http://www.counterpunch.org/mariscal03222003.html on July 30, 2006.

See also[edit]

Preceded by
"I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)" by Aretha Franklin
Billboard's Hot Rhythm & Blues number one single
March 16, 1967
Succeeded by
"Respect" by Aretha Franklin