Rose St. John and The Wonderettes

Fool Don't Laugh / I Know The Meaning

Veep : V 1231

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  • Artist: Rose St. John and The Wonderettes
  • A Side: Fool Don't Laugh
  • B Side: I Know The Meaning
  • Label: Veep
  • Format: 45s



  • Vinyl Condition: E+
  • Label Condition: E+
  • Sleeve Condition: E+

Key: View



As the girl-group phenomenon was peaking, two newly established Motor City writers Johnny Thornton and Jackie Thomas, were fresh from minor success of composing two songs for Bettye Lavette. With renewed confidence they formed a vivacious girl trio comprising Rose Johnson-Thornton, Lavernah Williams, and Joan Rutledge, who gave up seamlessly tight shrill harmony style which showed promise that never converted into sales.

Until they upped their game with their next recording "I Feel Strange" on Ruby. Its driving Motown-esque beat was perfect dancefloor fuel, complete with the compulsory Detroit blaring sax-break (Mike Terry most likely) which made United Artists took notice. Giving them minor chart success, their career was up and running with a slight adjustment in their name to Rose St. John (Rose Johnson-Thornton) and The Wonderettes.

Enter the experienced Bob Schwartz with impressive chart success from Dion and The Belmonts plus harmony group The Dimensions, who was perfectly place to lift this talented trio into the next phase. Bob was co-writer on both sides, this single gives up two killer Northern Soul dancers as New York & the Motor City meld together.

In the beginning of its Northern Soul journey this supreme Detroit double helping was covered-up as Barbara Angelle "I Know The Meaning". Menacing horns, pull you into its moody mid-tempo charm, Earl Van Dyke-esque piano posturing, marries into Mike Terry Baritone saxophone prompts, delicious Northern Soul rhythms give you a flawless soulful better-than-Motown groove, to take on board, with not a hint of trying to entice the "white" vote. In the UK a hugely popular dancefloor hit in the early eighties

But today it is the searing previously overlooked b-side that is winning hearts and filling the floors across the UK. "Fool Don't Laugh" showcases Rose's exceptionally distressed vocal, cradled by a mix of her two angelic teammates, and thoughtfully probing baritone saxophone peppered with ringing vibes; allowing Rose to lay bare her heart with the most beseeching display of young girl anguish you're ever likely to encounter.

It was sessions like this that won the respect of Detroit's soul matriarch Johnnie Mae Matthews who employed them on many of her recording sessions. The trio split in the early 70s but John Thornton's Northern Soul legacy is huge, working on NS collectables by Thelma Lindsey, Leah Dawson, Doll Face etc. but perhaps his most important moment was his mostly uncredited part in composing Motown anthem "Put Yourself In My Place".

But we still think this " Fool Don't Laugh" was his crowning moment with his pen.

Condition Report

Two clean yellow labels, neat clean vinyl plays a clean strong excellent (listen) and prepare to fall love in love.

A Side

  • Title: Fool Don't Laugh

    B Side

  • Title: I Know The Meaning
  • Year: June 1966
  • City: Detroit, Michigan