A short-lived group, the Monitors had only one release on Motown from November 1965 to August 1968. The group consisted of Richard Street, Warren Harris, and Sandra and John Fagin (it's unclear whether the Fagins were siblings or a couple). Harris had attended Northwestern High School in Detroit with future Temptations Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Street; he joined Williams and Franklin in the Distants, but later quit -- after which, the Distants merged with the Primes and signed with Motown as the Temptations.
Street then reformed the Distants and waxed "Answer Me," on Thelma Records, as Richard Street & the Distants (a young Norman Whitfield produced both sides). He also wrote songs for the Thelma label, owned by Berry Gordy's first wife, and when the label folded he joined the Peps, a group including Joe Harris (who later sang with the Ohio Players, the Undisputed Truth, and, as a teen, Little Joe & the Moroccos). The Peps, like the Monitors, were exciting live and very visual, but couldn't translate that to recording success.
After Street formed the Monitors with Harris and the Fagins, the group debuted on VIP Records with "Say You," a coy, sweet ballad that lacked promotion. (The Temptations redid it on their Gettin' Ready album.) The next Monitor singles, "Greetings This Is Uncle Sam" and "Since I Lost You Girl," appeared within several months but did nothing to advance the Monitors' career. Motown iced them until April 1968 before releasing "Bring Back the Love." The label then switched the Monitors to its Soul imprint for the group's final single, "Step by Step," released in August 1968. Three months later Greetings! We're the Monitors, originally scheduled for release on VIP, surfaced on the Soul label. The album was kind of a disappointment as it didn't include all the B-sides from their five singles, and the material wasn't up to Motown's usual standards.
British producer Ian Levine resurrected the Monitors in the late '80s and recorded quite a few tracks with a revamped group consisting of Darrell Littlejohn (lead), Herschel Hunter, Leah Harris, and originals Harris and Maurice Fagin. (Street was unavailable, since he'd joined the Temptations in the '70s to replace Paul Williams.) These new Monitors sounded similar to the Miracles -- Littlejohn is Smokey Robinson's nephew, and had recorded with cousin Keith Burston as Keith & Darrell on Tamla Records, and as the Second Generation. ~ Andrew Hamilton
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