Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Marvelettes: Deliver: The Singles 1961-1971 [Motown, 1993]
Where Diana Ross and Martha Reeves pumped personality, Gladys Horton (prettily gritty, as in "Please Mr. Postman") and Wanda Young (neatly sweet, as in "Don't Mess With Bill") took the Shirley Owens Everygirl Pledge. They were role players--proud but demure, neither pushover nor showoff. Twenty-eight of these 42 songs can be found on the old Anthology comp, including all the great ones (although not "Paper Boy": "Since the name of your paper is the Free Press/Give me one and you can sell the rest"). But Mr. Gordy wouldn't countenance a bad song--not on a 45, anyway--and unlike Diana and Martha, Gladys and Wanda were always amenable to letting Smokey or Holland-Dozier-Holland put words in their mouths. Which enabled them to lead or front Motown's only true girl group--except for Shirley's Shirelles, the best anywhere. A