Mary Love

There were many soul singers like Mary Love in the 1960s -- very talented, competent performers who were nonetheless pushed to the back of the pack because they lacked exceptional material, or enough personality to truly distinguish them from a crowded field. After doing some session work as a teenager in Los Angeles, she got her chance to cut half a dozen singles for the Modern label in the mid-'60s. These were decent, commercial soul records, nothing more, nothing less, somewhat less pop-oriented than Motown, but not much. She managed to get hold of some material by noted writers Frank Wilson and Ashford-Simpson, but only managed one minor R&B hit for Modern, "Move a Little Closer," which made number 48 in 1966.

Love revisited the lower reaches of the R&B Top 50 with "The Hurt Is Just Beginning" for Roulette in 1968; mysteriously, she only issued one more 45 for the label, and that didn't come out until 1971. Over the next decade she barely recorded at all. When she re-emerged as Mary Love Comer in the mid-'80s, she sang updated soul with a Christian-centered message. England's "Northern soul" market ensured a tiny market for her (as it does for many other obscure soul singers), and it was in England that a CD reissue of her work appeared in the mid-'90s. ~ Richie Unterberger

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