High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Thursday, November 25, 2010

On the Record: More Motown Monsters from Jimmy Ruffin

Earlier this year I told you about an album that I bought in 1966 - a volume of The Motown Sound. I grabbed that long playing record off the rack at Mailman's because there were several essential Dell songs on it.

The real thrill came, however, when I discovered a few
songs that I had never heard before - songs so good that they quickly became favorites. One of those soulful nuggets was "As Long as There is L-O-V-E Love," a Smokey Robinson penned smooth groove performed by Jimmy Ruffin.

To think that a soul treasure of that magnitude fizzled out at #120 on the Bubbling Under chart! Gimme a break!

Truth be told, Jimmy Ruffin spent the bulk of his career standing in the shadow of his younger brother David and other prominent Motown stars.

In August of 1966, eight months after the release of the grossly underachieving "L-O-V-E," Jimmy Ruffin gave the Shady Dell one of its all time greatest double-siders,
“What Becomes of the Brokenhearted"/“Baby, I’ve Got It.” The dynamite double play became one of the most important Dell records of the mid 60's.

The medium tempo “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted,” ranked #14 on the Dell Top 200, is one of the finest ballads ever to come out of Motown. When this one played on the jukebox some Dellions paired off to slow dance while others fell into formation and performed a synchronized shuffle.

The 45rpm version of "Brokenhearted" that millions of Americans remember featured an extended instrumental opening before Jimmy's vocals began. The unusually long instrumental intro can be explained by the deletion of a spoken verse that was originally written into the song:

A world filled with love is a wonderful sight.
Being in love is one's heart's delight.
But that look of love isn't on my face.
That enchanted feeling has been replaced.

Would "Brokenhearted" have been even more popular with that spoken intro included, or would it have been less of
a hit? We'll never know.

Playing the faster paced “Baby, I’ve Got It” on the barn box was another sure-fire way to bring Dell couples out on the floor.

"Baby, I've Got it" is ranked way up there at #30 among
all surveyed songs on my Dell's Greatest Hits list!

It remains a mystery to me how "Baby, I've Got It," one of the finest soul sides of all time, avoided becoming a Top 10 hit in the U.S.A. Another casualty of Shady’s Law, the song didn’t even make the Bubbling Under chart! Get outta town!

“Baby, I’ve Got It” might have been an overlooked B side in America, but in the dance clubs of the UK and western Europe where fab but forgotten flips of American soul singles were frequently elevated to hit status this awesome northern dancer was the side favored by savvy deejays.

Jimmy Ruffin followed up his “Brokenhearted” single with another soul-stirring recording.

“I’ve Passed This Way Before,” released just in time for the Christmas holiday season of 1966, is memorable for Jimmy's dramatic spoken passages at the beginning and near the end of the song. It's hard to imagine this song being as great without Jimmy's soliloquy.

At #76 on the Shady Dell survey, “I’ve Passed This Way Before” was another mid-tempo Motown masterpiece that had the Dell dancers out of their seats, on their feets, and forming a big strong line!

Here's a fine Y/T remix that doesn't stray too far:

Like the record spnners and clubbers of Northern England,
Dell rats constantly engaged in a jukebox treasure hunt. Whenever a new 45 turned up in the jukebox they auditioned both sides in hopes of uncovering the next great Dell dance classic.

Quite often the song with magic Dell dust sprinkled all over it turned out to be the flip side of the single. As many of you know by now I refer to this unexpected outcome as the killer bee phenomenon.

With that in mind, my official Jimmy Ruffin Pick to Click is
"Baby, I've Got It."

Jimmy Ruffin was Ruff'N Ready and would have made a great Dell rat. Jimmy, like a number of other gifted American soul singers, recorded excellent material but never got the recognition he deserved stateside. Jimmy wound up doing what others did. He moved to England in the 1980's, built a successful recording and performing career, and still resides there today.

As a tag to this Jimmy Ruffin tribute I'd like to remind you that next spring marks the 20th anniversary of brother
David Ruffin's death. Two decades? Hardly seems possible!

Have a Shady day!


  1. What wonderful memories you brought back this morning. Thanks so much for the great music to enjoy. I really miss those days and it is refreshing to hear it again. Have a great one.

  2. These are songs that I never get tired of hearing, Odie. I'm glad you enjoyed them, too. Have a great day in Carolina!

  3. Shady, I didn't even remember the name of the one who sang, "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted." I was happy to learn all about him. I always loved that song, one that most people can relate to when they lose a love.

    "As Long as there is L-o-v-e Love," had a great accompaniment. I don't remember hearing "I've Passed This Way Before," but enjoyed it very much.

    Your pick, "Baby I've Got It," is great. But I think you are right about it not getting play time in the States. In California, I don't recall ever hearing it. Thanks again for a fun time.

  4. It always amazes me how a song that became a huge hit in one region, one town, or even one juke joint (the Dell), could remain unknown to people in other parts of the country. That's why the killer bee phenomenon is such an important part of the Shady Dell story. Thanks so much for your comment, Belle!

  5. LOVE the music you put up. Its my kinda music because i always thought of myself as an old soul since ive always stuck to the oldies. My parents' records are all mine now and i never can get used to today's music.

  6. Well in that case, LyDe, welcome to the pack! I hereby bestow upon you the coveted title of Honorary Dell Rat! Thank you very much for your comment and have a great weekend!

  7. wow!! thank you!! im a Dell Rat!! :D
    * err... i hope i live up to the expectations!*

  8. Just close your eyes, take a deep breath and open your heart, LyDe. That's all there is to it! Have a wonderful weekend!


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