The Wax Museum presented three revivals of the Motown sound of the '60s Wednesday night, but only Junior Walker caught the original spirit. Downtown, a young local quintet, opened the show by reworking the old hits with lots of energy but without the essential soulfulness. A trio billed as the Marvelettes followed, but it contained none of the original members nor did the new ones sound a bit like original lead singer Gladys Horton. The real Junior Walker redeemed the evening, though, as his rough-edged tenor saxophone tore into his instrumental party hits with the same contagious spirit it did in the late '60s.
Backed by the bedrock solid drumming of his son, Junior Walker Jr., and the hot blues solos of guitarist R.C. Crawford, Walker sounded just as wild and blustery as he did 17 years ago when "Shotgun" came blasting out of Motown's usually more refined studios. Walker's sax gurgled lustily in its lower range, but would suddenly shoot upward into piercing squeals of pleasure. When Walker sang, it was more in the grunting funk style of James Brown than in the smooth, melodic Motown style. Walker is still the funkiest act Motown ever produced (Rick James included).
The three current Marvelettes are New York session singers (two were in the disco group, Musique) who have joined since 1975. They sounded more like Pointer Sisters imitators than Marvelettes imitators. Nevertheless, they made the Marvelettes' 1962-65 hits entertaining as they pulled men from the audience to play the comic title roles in "Playboy," "Don't Mess With Bill" and "Darling Forever."