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"Jimmy Mack" is a pop/soul song that in 1967 became a hit single 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. Billboard named the song #82 on their list of 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time.
|Single by Martha and the Vandellas|
|from the album Watchout!|
|B-side||"Third Finger, Left Hand"|
|Released||February 3, 1967|
|Recorded||March 2, 1964|
|Studio||Hitsville U.S.A. (Studio A)|
|Producer(s)||Brian Holland |
|Martha and the Vandellas singles chronology|
|Single by Sheena Easton|
|from the album Do You|
The song, with a lead vocal by the Vandellas' lead singer Martha Reeves in the 1967 version, is sung from the point of view of a woman who longs for the return of boyfriend "Jimmy Mack". The woman is being courted by another suitor, who she says "talks just as sweet as" her long-gone Jimmy, and she hopes for Jimmy to return before she falls for the other man.
The inspiration for the song came from a 1964 music industry awards dinner, which Lamont Dozier attended. At the ceremony the mother of 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 as a tribute to Mack the writer.
"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 because it sounded too much like a Supremes Song. 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.
"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. "Jimmy Mack" was also a hit in Britain reaching number 21. 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 2005, for The Motown Box, then appearing in 2006 on the compilation Martha & the Vandellas: Gold.
- Bonnie Pointer covered the song for her second solo album Bonnie Pointer (a.k.a. Purple Album, 1979).
- Sheena Easton's remake of "Jimmy Mack" was issued as the second single from her 1985 Do You album to peak at #65.
- Animal Collective covered the song for their The Painters (2017) EP.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 378.
- "100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time: Critics' Picks". Billboard. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
- "Jimmy Mack by Martha & the Vandellas | Songfacts". SongFacts.com. Retrieved 2016-10-01.[unreliable source?]
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-08-06. Retrieved 2006-07-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)