(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave (1963)

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By: Martha and the Vandellas, formed in 1960 in Detroit Michigan and fronted by Martha Reeves (born July 18, 1941 in Eufaula, Alabama).

Martha and the Vandellas were Motown's second most-successful girl group (after The Supremes). The name Vandella was said to be a combination of a street that Martha Reeves lived near, Van Dyke Street, and Della Reese, Reeves' favorite singer.

They had 13 Top 40 US hits and and seven Top 40 UK hits, including "Dancing In The Street", "Jimmy Mack", "I'm Ready For Love", "My Baby Loves Me", and "Nowhere to Run".

In 1995, Martha and the Vandellas were inducted to the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, the second girl group to be inducted and the fifth Motown group to be inducted.

Often referred to as "Heat Wave", the full title is "(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave". It was released in July 1963.

It features veteran Motown bassist Jame Jamerson on upright bass.

In 1964, "(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave" was nominated for a Grammy award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. It was their only Grammy award nomination.

In a 2007 DVD The Lovin' Spoonful with John Sebastian - Do You Believe in Magic, John Sebastian explained that he took the three-chord intro from "(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave" and sped it up to come up with the intro to his 1965 hit for the Lovin' Spoonful, "Do You Believe in Magic?".

It was also sampled by R&B singer Solange Knowles (sister of Beyonce Knowles) for her 2008 single "I Decided".

Chart position: #4 (US), #1 (US R&B).

The Top Ten Songs: September 28, 1963 (US Billboard Hot 100).
  1. "Blue Velvet" (Bobby Vinton)
  2. "Sally Go 'Round The Roses" (Jaynetts)
  3. "Be My Baby" (Ronettes)
  4. "(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave" (Martha and the Vandellas)
  5. "My Boyfriend's Back (Angels)
  6. "Then He Kissed Me" (Crystals)
  7. "Wonderful! Wonderful!" (Tymes)
  8. "Mickey's Monkey" (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles)
  9. "Cry Baby" (Garnet Mimms and the Enchanters)
  10. "If I Had A Hammer" (Trini Lopez)

Written by:
Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian Holland and Edward Holland, Jr.

The song trio of Holland/Dozier/Holland also wrote and produced hits such as "Where Did Our Love Go", "Baby Love", "Come See About Me", "Baby I Need Your Loving", "You're a Wonderful One", "Dancing in the Street", "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)", "Stop! In the Name of Love", "Nowhere to Run", "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)", "Back in My Arms Again", "It's the Same Old Song", "You Can't Hurry Love", "I Hear a Symphony", "Reach Out I'll Be There", "Standing in the Shadows of Love", "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak For You)", "You Keep Me Hangin' On", "Bernadette", "Jimmy Mack", "Reflections", "Give Me Just a Little More Time", "Band of Gold" and many more.

A heat wave is a long period of excessively hot weather, often accompanied by high humidity. The term is relative to the usual weather in a given area. Severe heat waves have caused catastrophic crop failures, thousands of deaths from hyperthermia, and widespread power outages due to increased air conditioning.

Also by: Linda Rondstadt. Her version, retitled "Heat Wave", reached #5 (US) in 1975; the Supremes; the Who; Joan Osbourne; Kimberley Locke; Jennifer Hudson; Vonzell Solomon; Lil Rounds.

My two cents: This actually wasn't one of my favorites while I was growing up. I'm a little ashamed to admit that because I now like it a lot! The baritone sax stabs, the drums, and Martha's impassioned lead vocal make this a classic.

Honestly, I came to like this song through the back door, so to speak. I had to hear another version of the song in order to appreciate the original. The version by the Who did that for me. Hearing the song in a different context -- in a lower key, with the emphasis on electric guitar, electric bass and loud, brash drums.

I came back to the Martha and the Vandellas version with fresh ears, and found a new appreciation for its instrumentation, melody, chords and vocal performance. It's definitely one of the coolest (or hottest?) summertime songs of all time!

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