Diana Ross & the Supremes: 10 of the best | Music | The Guardian
53 years years ago, on December 9th, , The Supremes released their classic album, Meet The Supremes. Review. The Shangri-Las Meet The Supremes is a slice of rich soul that owes as much to The Shangri-Las as it does to The Supremes. The Supremes - Meet The Supremes LP. Regular price $ Sale. Default Title - Sold out. Quantity Customer Reviews. No reviews yet Write a review.
Its fol-low up, "Buttered Popcorn," raced with it right into obscurity. And then, much to the youngsters' horror, there were four more ill-fated releases. By this time, they had earned the tag "no-hit Supremes" from their colleagues on the famed Motortown Revue concert circuit. When "Where Did Our Love Go" was released on The Supremes in June, —this despite the fact that all three girls hated the song themselves—no one dreamed that the record would not only alter The Supremes' fate but the destiny of Gordy's entire operation as well.
By the time the summer tour was winding down, "Where Did Our Love Go" was a major hit, The Supremes were headliners and the phrase "there's no business like show business" took on new meaning for Ferry Gordy.
Gene Pitney, The Shirelles and the rest of the "others" could only pick up the pieces. Gordy obviously looked to The Andrews Sisters for example when he conceptualized The Supremes' imagery, their choreography, close harmonies, and the fact that they would have one, and only one, recognized lead singer. Prior to Supremes-mania, Patty, Maxene and Laverne Andrews were considered the highest ranking female vocal trio. When they appeared with the upstart Supremes on Sammy Davis' television series in the sixties, there was instant chemistry.
The older women could relate to much of what these three youngsters were about to face, the demands that would be placed upon them, and the hard work that would be expected of them. The two groups sang a medley of each other's songs and popular music had reached another turning point.
Diana Ross & the Supremes: 10 of the best
The Andrews Sisters passed the torch that night, and The Supremes accepted the challenge-they went on to become the most suc-cessful female vocal group of all time. In My Arms Again. And these are some pretty terrific songs! Each one is the result of great ingenuity and imagination by young writers, producers and singers. The team quickly learned the importance of pop simplicity and its application to the creation of a commercial hit record.
Gordy and the girls could hardly believe what had happened. The Supremes' overwhelming success was much more than a coup for black music, or for Motown. It was a social phenomenon.
Meet The Supremes | Revolvy
The girls were the fore-runners of Gordy's ingenious invasion into the so-called "cross-over" market. In an era of Civil Rights activism, the group transcended barriers that had segregated the music industry.
Blacks and whites enjoyed the girls' uplifting sound and began to look to other Motown stars for more of the same quality. Youngsters emulated The Supremes' glamorous style and wholesome ideology. The sixties were turbulent years, but The Supremes were strong role models-homespun girls who didn't do drugs, who were always well groomed and who encouraged their young fans to graduate from high school.
Adults were impressed by the girls' upstanding morality and by the girls' onstage finesse, characterized as much by their instinctive show biz savvy as by their expen-sive at first store-bought, but very quickly designer-made sequined gowns, and bouffant wigs. The look, incidently, was a throwback to Hollywood's golden years. Because of their versatility and showmanship, the girls were welcomed into the upper echelons of entertainment's hall of fame. They played the Copacabana in New York July, and were warmly received by one of the country's toughest and most cynical night club audiences.
The rest of the Motown stars followed in suit s and gowns. It wasn't unusual to see The Supremes on television cavorting with show biz icons—trading punch lines with Jimmy Durante and Bob Hope, or cutting a mg with Sammy Davis, Jr. And somehow, it all seemed to make crazy sense. You really had to catch your breath at the magnitude of what these girls achieved in just a few short years.
Diana was always the center of attention as the lead singer, with her wide-eyed mugging, geisha girl allure and undeniable magnetism.
Mary, who sang bottom harmony, was half-jokingly called "the sexy one. Florence, on top harmony, was tall, stately and dignified. At the ready with a brassy one-liner, or some unusual twist to the show's stage patter, she was a delight to watch.
When she was replaced in by Cindy Birdsong who had been a member of Patti LaBelle and the Bluebellesan entirely different personality joined the group. Cindy was all softness and warmth; she was positioned into the show as gracefully as her name implies. Because of their sleek, grown-up sophistication, and the way they mixed-it-up so well with the big boys on TV, it's easy to forget what kids these Supremes really were.
Diana and Mary were born in ; Florence in That means they were still teenagers Diana and Mary still in high school when they first started recording for Motown. So by the time they had their string of number ones, Diana and Mary were barely 21, Flo Skipping a few years, after a dozen number one singles and years of accomplishments and star-dom, Diana was only 25 years old when she left The Supremes.
She had forged one record-breaking career and was about to embark on another, and she was still in her mid-twenties. Also overlooked in retrospect is the group's startling versatility and endurance in the Motown recording studios.
But there is a silver lining of sorts: But most of the LP is exactly the sort of syrupy orchestrated kitsch you'd expect, with Diana gamely piping her way through the most over-recorded tunes imaginable, from "White Christmas" and "Little Drummer Boy" through "Joy To The World.
It does show off the group's versatility " Unchained Melody " and willingness to flirt with MOR " Yesterday "but it's far from their best work. The Motown arrangements are turned into brassy nightclub pap, spoiling the big hits, and the show tunes like "Put On A Happy Face" and "I Am Women" are painful to hear.
Ross' voice is high and lovely, but she camps it up instead of projecting any real emotion. This is only worthwhile for lounge lizards, and Ross-haters looking for ammunition against her. Just thought you ought to know. There are so many covers here it's a chore just to track everything down - the Four Tops get victimized three times, for example.VOCAL COACH - REACTION -TNT BOYS as The Supremes
Because H-D-H had such a rich songbook to mine, the end result is still solidly enjoyable. But it's extraordinarily unoriginal, even more so than other Motown albums from this era. I've given it an extra half-star just on the strength of "You Can't Hurry Love" and some other amazing Jamerson bass lines. JA Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland An interesting title, because this was released after Holland-Dozier-Holland had gone virtually on strike and were preparing to leave Motown for their own label.
The Complete Recordings, which is the edition I have. The bonus tracks are roughly of the same quality as the original ones check the groovy strings on "Manhattan," which seem to be at 33 rpm while everyone else is at 45so if you're going to buy the thing at all, make sure you get the full version. Besides HDH leaving, Florence Ballard had just been fired, which didn't affect the group's sound as much as you might think. Gordy didn't know where to go next: The musicians and Ross are at their usual high standard, but the tunes are familiar covers " What The World Needs Now Is Love " and unsatisfying originals.
The best non-single is "Then," another witty formulaic Smokey Robinson number, although Diana's version of "Ode To Billie Joe" has substantial amusement value. Shouldn't I be doing something more productive, like pulling lint out of my belly button? Thus, the only songs that get full runs-through are the hits from the previous year or so "The Happening".
And since, for whatever reason, the group's singles are underrepresented on oldies radio, the renditions of "In And Out Of Love" and "Reflections" which admittedly suffers from the too-fast live performance sound relatively fresh. JA Join The Temptations Both the Supremes and the Temptations were huge hits on the nightclub circuit at this point, and they pooled their talents on several network television specials.
They also came up with a few highly orchestrated albums. Funkenstein George Clinton serves his internship here, writing "Can't Shake It Loose," which turned up under a different name on a Funkadelic album ten years later. DBW - With Birdsong replacing Ballard and the 12 songs nearly being outnumbered by the production teams, I wasn't expecting much from this patchwork effort - even Tommy Chong that Tommy Chong shows up in the roomfull of songwriters.
The track selection is really unimaginative, unfortunately; the title track resurfaced on Farewell, and other than that it's all hits - and just a few of them are covers of other people's hits that the Supremes didn't do elsewhere, like Otis Redding 's "Respect.
No producers listed; I'm sure this is a group effort like most of the act's later work. The covers of Motown standards are more gritty and soulful than the last time around: The weirdest moment is a medley of "My Guy" and "My Girl" both by Smokey Robinson featuring some pumping bass lines from Jamerson, but switching from one tune to another so often it's downright confusing.
A couple of the tunes are pulled from early Temptations collaborations, like "Funky Broadway," and they reprise "Let The Sunshine In" as well; but mostly it's covers of Broadway standards like "Fiddler On The Roof" and the title track that neither group did on their other records. JA Apparently, this is a "fake live" release: How many of these damn things did they need, anyway? Actually, it does look like most of the tracks are originals. Supreme Rarities rel. And within those parameters the package delivers, with terrific liner notes and a handy guide to tracking down all the rarities that didn't make it onto this release.
Meet The Supremes (album) | The Supremes Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia
Mostly it's of no general interest, but there are a few special moments: It's uneven to say the least: Birdsong and Wilson's backing vocals are mixed way up, which is good, but they're frequently way off key, which is not so good.
The surprise is the band Jimmy Garrett on bass, Napoleon Allen on guitar, and Curtis Kirk on drumswhich doesn't hesitate to stray from the original arrangements, and stays fresh and alert even during the show's dullest moments. There's endless self-congratulation and stage patter a lengthy missive from Ed Sullivan is read aloud that nobody would want to hear twice.
And the minute version of "Let The Sunshine In," with all the celebrities in the house including such vocal talents as Steve Allen singing one chorus each, is unlistenable, though Marvin Gaye nearly makes the whole thing worthwhile. But fanatics will want to have this piece of history. Commercially, the strategy worked: She could have gone with a producer like Frank Wilson or Norman Whitfield who might have put her into dangerously experimental territory and loaded her down with overblown covers.
But instead, she teamed with Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpsonwho not only produced but wrote all but one of the songs. The result is a great collection of elaborately produced, mostly three-minute Motown ballads - the orchestration is so baroque it's mind-numbing. But the arrangements are always clever enough to be bearable, the song material is uniformly strong, Ross and Jamerson's performances are as solid as ever, and the high points are significant. Supremes fans will find this one really satisfying because it doesn't stray from the Motown sound as much as Diana's later output.
JA - The string arrangements are superb, the tunes are memorable, and Ross' glass-clear voice is a perfect complement to the gentleness of the ballads - for my money, Diana's version of "You're All I Need To Get By" is even better than the original. Still, there are some moments: At first, the gamble was successful, both commercially and musically: Duke Browner produced several fine if lightweight pop numbers: Though Frank Wilson was producing each act individually, he had nothing to do with this project.
The disc is thoroughly listenable, with Levi Stubbs doing most of the attention grabbing, but it relies so heavily on covers it's hardly a standout. The desperate effort to keep up extends even to the self-conscious title and the cover portraits sporting new Afros and sombre black turtlenecks.
But at least Wilson's original tunes are a little interesting, with some serious funk backbeat; and although some tracks are long, they're never endless like Norman Whitfield's Temptations epics.
Surprisingly, though, they didn't do any covers this time out, settling for sappy, Vegas-style tunes from the likes of Dino Fekaris, affectionately known as "Mr. It's hard to see what Gordy was thinking when he approved this release. Again, this album didn't hit the Top 40 at all, a disaster considering Ross's incredible marketability up to this point. JA No single was released from this collection. Gordy was determined to make his mark in motion pictures, and he went all out here, recruiting jazz legends Benny Golson and Oliver Nelson to work on the arrangements, Michel Legrand to write the "Love Theme," and top musicians like Red Callender, Max BennettHarry "Sweets" Edison, George Bohanon, etc.
The music is mostly period small-combo jazz, including most of Holiday's best known material "Strange Fruit," "God Bless The Child," title trackand was a huge departure from Ross's previous work. The gamble paid off commercially, as the album hit 1 - impressive for a double album, and Ross' only solo LP to do so.
But it doesn't stand the test of time. The first disc uses the irritating device of superimposing music and film dialog to encapsulate the plot, which means hardly any of the songs are performed to completion - it's frustrating at best.
Disc two is better: I may as well admit here that I don't really get Holiday's appeal, so I'm not the best person to judge Ross's attempt to step into her shoes. Ross's singing is as usual clear and a bit cold - sometimes coming across as sophisticated, at other times just unemotional.
A testament to Ross's range, and Gordy's strength of will, but not a great listening experience. The album is more enjoyable than the film soundtrack, in every respect: A couple of these recordings saw release on later 70s projects "Smile"; " Ellington 's "Solitude" and a rollicking "T'Ain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do" complete with pro-domestic violence final verse.
James Jamerson's still-masterful bass is clearly in the mix the five-minute "Now The Bitter, Now The Sweet"and there's just a dash of "modern" guitar effects and recording gimmickry to break up the stream of punchy pop tunes. Only the lighter use of orchestration and the insistent, vaguely Stevie Wonder -ish electric piano parts really bring it up to date.
Understandably, the public didn't bite. The title track was another hit, reusing the traded lead vocals motif and verging on a James Bond theme song reject in its arrangement. But it didn't really surpass "Nathan Jones" or approach the original lineup's chart performances; the Summer of Love -sounding followup "Automatically Sunshine" barely made it into the Top 40, and the best tune "Oh Be My Love" wasn't even a single. Still, Terrell is more of a Diana Ross doppelganger than ever here "The Wisdom Of Time"and despite some campiness you can't argue with Robinson's ingrained commercial reflexes.
Any 60s Supremes fan who ignores the release date and photo on the cover is going to enjoy the music. JA - Jamerson's bass lines are marvelous, and Robinson's in fine form: And while it's retro, he does push himself with a bossa nova number "Precious Little Things".
To me, Terrell sounds more like Smokey himself than like Diana, but what the hell. As Alroy says, it's an enjoyable listen for Motown fans though not up to the level of the 60s lineup. New member Lynda Laurence is in the cover photo but not in the grooves. One side is tacky ballads, including Webb's absurd racial harmony tune "When Can Brown Begin" and a Mantovani-like version of the oft-recorded "Silent Voices," though Webb's "5: The other side is would-be rockers, including a bizarre horn-powered version of Joni Mitchell 's "All I Want" - Mitchell's engineer Henry Lewy also engineered this album.
On this side too, most of the material is overobvious, emphatically including Harry Nilsson's "Paradise" - just one of Webb's compositions, "Once In The Morning," is worth the trouble. Terrell's voice is crystal-clear but doesn't add any of the personality this disc so desperately needs. The laconic rhythm section is Ray Rich drumsFred Tackett guitarSkip Mosher bass and Webb on keyboards; there are strings added to nearly every track. The only full album by the Wilson-Terrell-Laurence lineup.
It sank without a trace, and I don't think it appeared on an album. Ross' debut effort is definitely the former, this is definitely the latter - but they're really quite similar. The devil is in the details: The rest of the tunes are a motley assemblage: