In this ‘Rare Cut’ we celebrate one of the finest groove tracks around: Val Young’s brilliant ‘If You Should Ever Be Lonely‘.
Once again we’ve dug up a pretty tasty groove to prove yet again that Motown Records did not die in 1972 when the label moved to LA from Detroit. Val Young is quite simply a brilliant female vocalist, and she started off her career as a background singer for George Clinton’s all-female outfit The Brides of Funkenstein in 1977. She would cut her teeth as a backing singer with Clinton and the Brides of Funkenstein, later touring with Roy Ayers and The Gap Band. But it would be her work with none other than the King of Punk-Funk Rick James who would turn her into a solo act.
By the early eighties James was hot Motown property. He had a string of albums under his belt, an incredibly funky group backing him in The Stone City Band, and had the musical foresight that Motown badly needed at that time. Motown was no longer the ‘Sound of Young America’ and while it had Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and then Lionel Richie knocking out decent selling albums, it needed something different. And that turned out to be James’ brand of funk. James set out creating his own army of funky acts, in a similar way to George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic organisation. He recorded with The Temptations on their Reunion album, producing the epic ‘Standing on the Top‘; he developed a girl group in the Mary Jane Girls, and he introduced the world to a white-soul singer Teena Marie. His funky band members were also encouraged to develop, with The Stone City Band recording three of their own albums.
He also discovered Val Young and brought her to Motown, and had Berry Gordy sign her up for a solo contract. James and members of The Stone City Band collaborated with her on her debut solo release Seduction, the album that features ‘If You Should Ever Be Lonely’. In fact the song is co-written by Young and co-produced by Stone City Band original Levi Ruffin. The song itself is catchy, funky and simply delightful. Sadly, despite the album performing okay on the charts, it was not enough to launch Young as a solo star. Young’s Motown signing also corresponded with the long breakdown between Rick James and the label, and she left in 1987 to release her follow-up album Private Conversations in 1987.
We came across the song fairly recently in 2014 when the legendary DJ John Morales released his M&M mix of the song on his Club Motown compilation, extending the mix he did back in 1985. The song, regardless of what mix you choose and prefer, is excellent and further evidence to the fact that Motown didn’t die in LA – it simply changed. It may not have succeeded as well as it had in Detroit, but decent music was nonetheless created. And Val Young’s Motown releases are testament to that.