This month we focus our "Disc Of The Month" series on a single that was released in Canada in October of 1961 by "girl group" The Marvelettes, and that would be one of the two American songs covered by The Beatles on Side 1 of their very first Canadian album "Beatlemania! With The Beatles" (Capitol T-6051); these were respectively track 6 "Till There Was You" and track 7 "Please Mister Postman".
The second song to be covered on Side 1 of T-6051 by The Beatles was "Please Mr. Postman". The first single to be issued by The Marvelettes in the USA was "Please Mr. Postman / So Long Baby" (Tamla T 54046) on August 21st., 1961. This A side would prove to be their biggest hit. In England, the 45 was issued by Fontana (Philips) as Fontana H355 "Please Mr. Postman / So Long Baby" (December 1961). In Canada, the disc was pressed by London Records Of Canada as TM.7003 and featured the standard London blue background label with the Tamla logo stamped in silver print. The Canadian pressing was probably issued in late October of 1961 as the early Tamla releases in Canada appeared to lag the US issue dates by about 6 weeks. For example, their next release in Canada was TM.7008 and this was issued in Canada in February 1962, about 6 weeks after the US release date of December 1961.
Promotional copies of the "Postman" single were sent to radio stations across Canada and these copies featured a red and white sticker on the A side with the text "DEMONSTRATION RECORD NOT FOR SALE". The record was listed as a new entry on the weekly CHUM Chart in Toronto in November 1961 but failed to secure a position in the top 50 (Source: "The CHUM Chart Book", Ron Hall, Stardust, 1990). Airplay of the single would have been limited. The "Motown" sound was just catching on in Canada and it would be a few more months before things would change ... in September 1962 The Marvelettes would hit pay-dirt with "Beechwood 4-5789" and Mary Wells also would see chart action with "You Beat Me To The Punch". The Contours' "Do You Love Me" would chart the following month.
The initial credits for the song on the TN.7003 45 list the songwriters as "Dobbins-Garret-Brianbert" and the song's producer is Brianbert. On The Beatles T-6051 album cover, the song is simply credited to "Holland" and there is a story behind the shortening of the songwriting credit for the song.
The song was originally written in a blues style by William Garrett who was a friend of singer Georgia Dobbins. It was then modified by a team that included original Marvelettes singer Georgia Dobbins (who had already left the group), a real-life Detroit postman named Freddie Gorman, Brian Holland (original Motown engineer) and Robert Bateman (another founding engineer at Motown). Robert (aka Bert) Bateman left Motown in 1962 and that explains the short life of the made-up name Brianbert.
On the actual recording, The Marvelettes at this time included Gladys Horton on lead vocal and on background vocals Wanda Young, Georganna Tillman, Juanita Cowart, and Katherine Anderson. Providing the instrumental backup were the Funk Brothers that included Benny Benjamin on drums, James Jamerson on bass, Richard "Popcorn" Wylie on piano, Eddie "Bongo" Brown on percussion. It is also interesting to note that Marvin Gaye played additional drums on this track.
In the summer of 1963, Phonodsic would also issue an Lp called "A Package Of 16 Big Hits" (mono MT 614) which featured "Please Mr. Postman". This time the song credits were as follows:
On the back sleeve - Bateman, Holland, Garrett, Gorman, Dobbins
On the record label - Holland, Garrett, Gorman, Dobbins
It is interesting to note that this Lp featured the very first release in Canada of the "Money" track by Barrett Strong. It was never issued in Canada on 45. The Lp also includes "You've Really Got A Hold On Me" by The Miracles. For my money, this was the best Motown compilation ever and one can appreciate just what The Beatles were tapping into …