Marcella Detroit – Detroit
Many’s the time over the last twenty years that I’ve wished I was in charge at a record company. Heck, every record company. But even though I’m not, I still have a habit of working out entire album marketing strategies and choosing the singles and the order in which they’re released. Everyone would have hits and everyone – pop stars and public alike – would be thrilled with the results. The problem with this, of course, is that everybody who thinks they know better is usually dead wrong. I’d probably have a complete breakdown the minute my dead-cert no.1 topped out at no.76.
That being said, if only I’d been in charge at London Records when Marcella Detroit‘s solo album landed on the desk. Having been in a bit of a mood since the untimely, but entirely predictable demise of Shakespears Sister, I’d have rubbed my hands with glee at the news that the slightly more marketable of the two had made a decent record with lots of fairly ace tunes on it. And then I’d have sat down with a biscuit and a cup of tea and figured out what to do with it.
Now, to me it was completely obvious – here I have an artist called Marcella Detroit and she’s got a song called Detroit on the album. I’m imagining a one-word iconic poster campaign right there. But is it a suitable first single? Good grief yes. I’ve probably listened to it once a week since it came out, so at a conservative guess I’ve played it well over a thousand times now. That’s definitely first single material.
Detroit the song by Detroit the singer is, as pop records go, pretty much flawless – it has a terrific, echoey groove that sounds a little bit industrial, a little bit worn, but is always moving on relentlessly – hey, like Detroit itself! Marcella’s bittersweet love letter to her home town is built both for radio and being behind the wheel of a car, and believe you me, I would have licensed the hell out of that tune to a million ‘Songs for Driving’ compilations. Of course the best thing about it is Marcella’s voice, which has a cool confidence that says “I know I could belt this number out of the park, but I don’t need to. Just wait.”
Then, I’d have put out the fun and poppy I’m No Angel as the follow-up, and only after that – having hopefully bagged it as that year’s Children In Need single – would I have released I Believe, just to remind everyone what a fully unleashed Marcella Detroit can do. We’d have been ready for it by then.
My problem with having it as the actual first single is that, after an admittedly quiet start, it was so epic that it kind of left nowhere to go. From a certain point of view it was the obvious ‘big number’ on the album and therefore a no-brainer – but I think it would have been better to start off more subtly with a song that would really lodge in the mind and shift albums. And that was Detroit.
Entered chart: was not released
Who could sing this today and have a hit? I always wondered what Aretha Franklin could do with this.