Sep 06

THE FREAKY TRIGGER TOP 100 SONGS OF ALL TIME No 67. The Velvelettes – “Needle In A Haystack”

FT/5 comments • 2,612 views

Nobody volunteered to write about this record, so it falls to yr humble pop editor. Which is a bit of a shame, because it turns out I don’t like it much.

The track is a fairly straightforward hybrid of two sounds I love – Motown pop-soul and 60s Girl Groups, handclaps and beats and shang-a-langs all present and correct. But for me the two sounds seem to cancel each other out rather than mesh: the girliness softens the Motown drive, and the soulfulness clashes with the girl group’s teeny melodrama. I like the lyric, I like the tune, but the whole thing feels bloodless somehow.

(My suspicion is that it feels bloodless to me cos this is the sort of sound certain indie clubs – mentioning no names – have adopted as their own version of ‘perfect pop’, so when I listen to this it’s not the lovely Velvelettes I see.)

(Naturally this snippy review is also a GOAD to anyone who wants to write in praise of this record: do it yrself and we’ll put that one up!)


  1. 1
    porkpie on 9 Sep 2006 #


  2. 2
    Pete on 10 Sep 2006 #

    I can’t remember who nominated this (though it could well have been sad-smiley Pork Pie) though I do remember it being “Needle In A Haystack” by the band who did Needle In A Haystack. Whether the lack of precision was due to the note-taker or the nominator remains a mystery.

  3. 3
    Chewshabadoo on 11 Sep 2006 #

    Not as good as the other one which Betty Boo sampled, but still a decent song.

    With you on the ‘token Motown group’ at schmindie-discos point though

  4. 4
    henry on 11 Sep 2006 #

    the “other song”, “He Was Really Sayin’ Something”, seems like the ultimate Nothern Soul classic to these ears…(which admittedly have never been near Wigan)…

  5. 5
    Doctor Mod on 13 Sep 2006 #

    I recently saw the Velvelettes performing in 2005 on a US public broadcasting television program that featured artists of the 1960s. Most of these “oldies” acts hadn’t aged well at all, but the Velvelettes were incredible. All the women in the group were the original line up, and they danced and sang and clapped and finger-popped through “Needle” and “Sayin’ Something” with the energy of women half their age. They’re still really, really hot! (You go, girls!)

    Dusty Springfield did an interesting cover of this that didn’t get released until the 1990s. It was a perfect song for her, and she put a bit more umph into than the V’s did, but she couldn’t quite match opening “Weh-ell” the Vs’ lead singer does.

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