Tuesday, November 8, 2011



Music lovers can't and will never get enough of The Supremes, who made an global impact on the world, breaking race, sex, gender and class barriers with their memorable hits, sequenced gowns, wigs and their spirit that showed people that anyone can achieve their goals. From 1964-69, Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, Diana Ross and Cindy Birdsong (who replaced Ballard in 1967) had scored twelve # hits, as along with being the first Black act to perform at the Copacobana, and when Ross left to pursue a successful solo career in 1970, Jean Terrell became the lead singer and helped the group score several classics including "Up The Ladder To The Roof," "Stoned Love," "Nathan Jones," "Touch," "Floy Joy" and "Bad Weather." However with Motown holding back on support, Terrell and Cindy's replacement Lynda Laurence had left, leaving original member Wilson at a crossroads; to puruse a solo career or reform the group? She chosed the latter; she recruited Scherrie Payne as the lead singer and rehired Cindy who was on maternity leave and would be replaced by Susaye Greene, and conqured the Disco and R&B charts, with several # 1 hits before disbanding in 1977. Well fans can enjoy the group's magical hits on "Let Yourself Go" which has become the group's biggest and best-selling compliation of all time. The 3 CD set not only features the Supremes' last three albums, it also features several unreleased songs as well as alternative versions of their classics that will have you dancing and romancing.
Disc one opens with the group's comeback single "He's My Man: a hot Disco song that has funky basslines, strings and sultry and sexy vocals by Mary and Scherrie who both blend well in the background with Cindy. The song also has cool lyrics that women and Gay men love.

He calls, says get dressed
And I put on my best
Being in his arms
Brings out all my charm
You can see us glow where ever we may go
He's my man.

Following this classic is "Early Morning Love" which was a nice reunion with The Supremes and the Holland Brothers, who produced ten of their twelve # 1's and gave this song a nice Soulful Blues feel by having a hot horn section and having Wilson sing and showing her ranges adding sexiness to the lyrics about making love the first thing in the morning. Wilson also shines vocally on the Country-flavored "Where Is It I Belong" and "This Is Why I Believe In You" which during the latter, features the group singing' you make me wanna shout' with Scherrie ad-libbing powerfully. Good, but the song would have been better had Cindy had also did some solo ad-libbing as well. Payne also does well on "You Can't Stop A Girl In Love" where she displays her vocal ranges, and shows the group's growth at that time, futher displayed on "Color My World Blue" which has nice harmony and "Give Out, Don't Give Up" which has inspirational lyrics and hot percussion, also heard on "Where Do I Go From Here." "You Turn Me Around" is a great ballad with romantic and inspirational lyrics and a great lead vocal by Wilson, but the song should have been longer. The Supremes' rendition of the classic "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)" is hot and shows that the group still had the capability of doing covers and making them their own,. The alternative version of "The Sha-La Bandit" is another song showing Payne's powerful singing, while the alternative version of "Color My World Blue" features Scherrie singing mid-range, Wilson's spoken seagment and more percussion. "Mr Boogie" is a hot song with hot percussion that could have been a huge hit along with the Hal Davis produced "Dance Fever" which has fans jamming to this gem on their I-Pods and using as their ringtomes. This song has a hot combination of Disco, Funk, Blues, Jazz, Country courtesy of the horn and rhythm sections, piano and bass. Adding more spice is when the Supremes sing and chant 'We're gonna boogie/we're gonna Reggae. I can't stop dancing in a soulful/Carribbean style, further showing their growth and there is really no excuse for Motown not releasing this along with the sultry romantic "Seed of Love" showing their capability to sing about romance. I predict many couples will be playing this songs at their weddings. The multi-lead on the alternative version of "Give Out, Don't Give Up" is another favorite because not only we get a chance to hear the group sing in unison, but they give this version a more spiritual feeling, while the extended version of "Bend A Little" featues a hot call and response and powerful vocals.
The ballad "Can We Love Again" is another gem that should have been released. It has a sultry Latin Jazzy Soul vibe and features Mary singing in higher ranges, while the extended version of "He's My Man" has more strings, bass and percussion and shows Scherrie cutting loose on the vocals adding Gospel flavor to the classic.
Disc 2 opens with "High Energy" which has a hot sexy feeling courtesy of the strings, percussion, Mary's sultry spoken intro and Susaye Greene's legendary singing, phrasing and trademark high notes. A great way of introducing the lady who would be dubbed the Last Supremes. Following this top charting classic is the group's last top 40 hit "I'm Gonna Let My Heart Do The Walking" a classic that still gets spins at classic parties. With it's percussion, strings, empowering lyrics and Payne cutting loose on the vocals, the song still gets fans on the floor. Scherrie also shows her sexy side on "Only You (Can Love Me Like You Love Me)" and "You Keep Me Moving" which has funky live breaks and horns, but for the latter, the group's vocals should have been more sultry. Mary shines on the ballad "Don't Let My Tear Drops Bother You" which has nice lyrics and percussion that adds elements of Latin to this soulful ballad along with the background vocalS, while the sounds of the boat floating on the ocean adds sexiness and sadness to "Til The Boat Sails Away" which fades into the Thom Bell-Linda Creed penned "I Don't Want To Lose You" which has nice lead vocals and a spoken seagment by Wilson who does a great job fronting Scherrie, Cindy and Susaye vocally. She and Scherrie does a great job singing lead on "You're What's Missing In My Life" which has nice lyrics, piano riffs that later would be used in the Roberta Flack/Donny Hathaway classic "God Don't Like Ugly" and shows their individual vocal styles.
The original mixes of the "High Energy" sounds similar to the versions that were released, but however, the original version of "High Energy" featres Susaye singing and ad-libbing in mid-range, while the vocals on "Only You (Can Love Me Like You Love Me)" are more seductive and fuller. The alternative version of "There's Room At The Top" has fuller and soulful harmony and handclaps that gives the song a Gospel feel, while Wilson shines on her version of "You're What's Missing In My Life" showing her growth and ability to sing mid-tempo songs, and the fans are still jamming to Susaye's lead on "I'm Gonna Let My Heart Do The Walking." Susaye gives the song a youtful feel and showcases her high notes and ranges, something that many artists including Michele, Mariah Carey and Chante Moore would later do on their recordings.
Disc 3 opnes with "You're My Driving Wheel" which has a hot horn section, percussion, piano riffs and strong vocals, further displayed on "Let Yourself Go", which has nice strings that adds elements of Classical music to the song, which like the former should have been larger hits alongn with "Come Into My Life" which has one of the funkiest basslines heard from any Motown artists. It gives the song a hypnotic feel along with Susaye's seductive and powerful lead vocals, which explains why she was the only member to sing at Ray Charles' funeral. Susaye also joins Mary on the ballad "We Should Be Closer Together" while Wilson does a marvelous job on the underated ballad "You Are The Heart of Me" and Scherie does well on "I Don't Want To Be Tied Down" which has great lyrics about being free and friends with benefits. The alternative version of "High Energy" features Wilson's spoken seagments, which improve throughout the song, while Susaye does a great job singing mid-range. The alternative version of "I'm Gonna Let My Heart Do The Walking" has more percussion, bells, bass, a different set of lyrics and features Scherrie ad-libbing 'Go head with your badself." My personal favorite is the alternative version of "Sweet Dream Machine" which is so much sexier than the version that was released. Giving the song sex appeal are the music, lyrics and the call and response between the song's co-writer Harold Beatty who speaks in his deep baritone voice while the ladies sing 'You're into me/I'm into you/Sweet Dream Machine in a sexual way along with making organic noises and says honey drippping while laughing. This version would have given Donna Summer's "Love To Love You Baby" a run for it's money.
This set is great, but it would have been better if the multi-lead version of "The Sha-La Bandit" was included. The set wouuld have been much hotter had the versions of High Energy with Scherrie and Cindy each singing lead wouldn't have been erased. Hearing those versions would have been heavenly, but all in all the set was well coordinated and it shows how The Supremes still had the magic and was able to have fans letting themselves go.

This review is dedicated to the late Florence Ballard who passed shortly before the High Energy album was released and to the late Phillip Howell, who would have loved this boxed set.

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