BCB 130 - The Supremes

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Samoan
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BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby Samoan » 16 Oct 2014, 18:43

There's not been so many female artists on the BCB 130 list, so shall we go see about that with one of the most commercially successful vocal groups ever ?



This 1964 song knocked the lads from Liverpool off top perch of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Chart.

Their story began when they were still high school pupils growing up on the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects in Detroit, Michigan.

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The young Florence Ballard got acquainted with a Detroit male singing group known as The Primes. Keen to match up with a sister group, The Primettes were born with Ballard calling on best friend Mary Wilson, who in turn recruited classmate Diane Ross (later, Diana) and Betty McGlown. Marvin Tarplin significantly joined the four on guitar.

So now let's fast forward, if I may, over the quintet cutting their teeth round the clubs and local events to the emerging Motown empire. In 1960 Ross asked old neighbour, The Miracles lead singer Smokey Robinson to help them catch an audition for Motown executive Berry Gordy although in truth, Smokey's interest was most picqued by guitarist Marvin Tarplin's talents.

I961 finally saw The Primettes strike the motherlode. Renamed The Supremes, they signed a contract with Gordy after many months hanging out after school at Hitsville USA studio, contributing hand claps and backup vocals for other Motown artists such as Marvin Gaye and Mary Wells and The Temptations. Now a vocal trio of Ballard, Wilson and Ross and with Tarplin later to find fame with The Miracles, success came slowly.
But then, "Where Did Our Love Go" reached number One on the US pop charts in 1964. It was also their first song to appear on the UK pop charts, where it reached number Three...



Being a girl, I love to look at photos from the archives of their poise, chic, elegance and wardrobe...their whole look, which having grown up in a Detroit Housing Project, was honed by the Motown in-house charm school which all artists signed to Berry Gordy attended. I'm being a little self-indulgent here so apologies to the gents of BCB.
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The great Coco Chanel would approve this ensemble

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Perhaps a little too much 'Wow' factor in this final outfit but I think well suited for a group with 12 US Number One singles and a Hollywood Walk of Fame star to their credit.

Fresh and novel to my ears, and which I find unique from other Motown and earlier female R&B and Soul singers was the airy, floaty, breathy vocals which you can hear in the 1964 hit, "Baby Love"....



..but behind the foot tapping, hand clapping, breezy party mood is a miniature vignette of love gone south with such lyrics as "Lonliness has got the best of me."
It became a number-one hit both in the UK and the US and was nominated for the 1965 Grammy Award for Best R&B Song.

The bulk of their material, well, certainly their biggest hits, came courtesy of the Holland–Dozier–Holland song writing team, as it did for many of the Motown artists. The 1965 number one hit, "Stop! In the Name of Love" it is said, had lyrics inspired by Lamont Dozier getting caught in a compromising position by his lady and finding himself uttering those very words as she went to walk out on him

It struck me that Diana Ross has an unusual posture for a lead vocalist...you can see it in live youtube footage. She's far from standing upright and her shoulders are somewhat hunched over. Can a person song to the best in that stance ?
It was said that Flo Ballard had a voice so powerful they had to position her microphone 17 feet in front of her. So that brings up a question...
Who really was the better singer of the Ross-Wilson-Ballard line-up ?

Here's "A Breathtaking Guy" penned by Smokey Robinson for their 1964 second studio album Where Did Our Love Go, where all three - Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson - sing a part of the chorus with the original title together...



In the song below, Florence Ballard sings sole lead on "Buttered Popcorn", from the album Meet The Supremes. It was released as a single in 1963 but was not overly promoted. Apparently, Berry Gordy felt that this sound didn't reflect how he wanted the public to chime with The Supremes. It certainly has an altogether much, much earthier feel going on.
(BEING CAREFUL NOT TO GET PUT ON THE NAUGHTY STEP HERE) In fact in later days it was pulled once the lyrics had been reappraised, as it were!



Anyway, on a slight tangent, what do you think of this cover of The Beatles "You Can't Do That" ?
Have a listen, if you have time...
...Do you think they could do that ?!



It's from their third album, A Bit of Liverpool although it was titled With Love (From Us To You) for it's UK release.
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With "The Happening", The Supremes chalked up yet another hit at Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 in May '67 becoming their tenth number-one single in the USA. However, there was indeed soon to be a very sorry Happening : it was the last hit single ' The Girls' (as they were known from their earliest days at Hitsville USA) made together before Florence Ballard departed (or should I say, was ousted from) the group, to be replaced by Cindy Birdsong ....




The Supremes, as Ross-Wilson-Ballard, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1994, and they entered the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998. Additionally, Rolling Stone magazine placed the group at number 97 on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time".

I think it's fair to say The Supremes were the template for other female vocal groups to emerge such as The Pointer Sisters, The Three Degrees and more recently the magnificent Destiny's Child, but there's a question...Perhaps you agree or disagree about the extent of their influence ?

My Personal all-time Favourite has to be "You Keep Me Hangin' On".
It made Number 339 on Rolling Stone's 2004, The 500 Greatest Songs of all Time....



...I love that little kick at the very end of that song!

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I'll have to excuse myself for not writing about the technicalities of the vocals and the music as that's not my forte or field ...I don't sing or have a background in music.
So I'll wrap-up my whistle stop appreciation of The original, glorious Supremes there, at 1967, prior to the changing line-up and to Ross' solo career, as for me, those early years are their Prime.


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Re: BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby der nister » 16 Oct 2014, 19:48

very nice, Samoan, good stuff!


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Re: BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby GoogaMooga » 16 Oct 2014, 19:50

i would like to give a shout to the 70s supremes, too, those two lovely box sets from hip-o containing the run. especially the first box, which is going for crazy prices now, that is, if you can find it!
1966 and all that

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Re: BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby Bent Fabric » 16 Oct 2014, 19:59

I absolutely believe in the Diana Ross era Supremes. Her "posh" diction/timbre is often held up as a totem of Motown's "upmarket failings", but...I love those records dearly (however dark the story behind them).



Such an incredible record - the theremin, the Wurlitzer electric piano, the tambourine, the changes...cod-psych, for sure, and all the better for it.



Another unusual track - HDH seemed to be on some heavy shit around this time. The spoken word bits are almost comical, but...I love them.



Their masterpiece?

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Re: BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby Samoan » 16 Oct 2014, 22:13

Bent Fabric wrote:

Their masterpiece?

I know it was certainly controversial....then, but I just can't get moved by it at all, despite it's chart topping success.
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Re: BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby Belle Lettre » 16 Oct 2014, 22:18

Great stuff, Samoan. Totally agree with your favourite song.
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Re: BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby Bent Fabric » 16 Oct 2014, 22:20

I guess I just love the sound of it - the rhythm section, the muted electric guitar, the backing vocals, the (again) tambourine, the glockenspiel.

Fantastic opening post, by the way.

Having been born a week before "Someday We'll Be Together" hit number one, I did NOT experience their 1960s ubiquity in real time, but...I do get the impression that they had some killer new single out about as frequently as the Beatles and for approximately the same number of years. Undoubtedly, they kept the electric bill paid at Motown.

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Re: BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby Samoan » 16 Oct 2014, 22:26

connection dropped out
Last edited by Samoan on 16 Oct 2014, 23:06, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby Samoan » 16 Oct 2014, 23:05

Belle Lettre wrote:Great stuff, Samoan. Totally agree with your favourite song.


I found an interesting appraisal of it just earlier this evening, albeit mispelt!

4. You Keep Me Hanging On

Inevitably, the hurt turns to anger. The year is 1966, and – over tense, terse guitars that pan between the speakers and jangle like frayed nerves, and with the Supremes offering supportive, affirmative “ooh-ooh-ooh”s behind her – Ross announces she is done playing the sappy victim, demanding justice (“Let me get over you/ The way you got over me”) and telling her beau to “be a man about it and set me free”. Her pain is never in question, but neither is her resolve, and, as she whispers, “There ain’t nothin’ I can do about it”, the music seems to seethe along with her. It’s the Supremes’ heaviest moment, serious as a heart attack.

Vanilla Fudge later recast the song as seven minutes of agonised, overdriven psychedelic sludge, but it hit nowhere as hard as the original, which stands alongside Marvin’s Heard It Through the Grapevine as Motown’s sharpest 60s single.

...from this article -
http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2014/oct/08/diana-ross-the-supremes-10-of-the-best
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Re: BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby fange » 17 Oct 2014, 01:16

Great post, Samoan!

Samoan wrote:Image


And I love this, just wonderful.

My fave Diana-era Supremes song is the same as yours too, so good in every way.

My fave post-Diana tune is this one...

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Re: BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby GoogaMooga » 17 Oct 2014, 01:34

fave 60s - you keep me hangin on
fave 70s - up the ladder to the roof
1966 and all that

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Re: BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby pcqgod » 18 Apr 2018, 17:27

bump
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Re: BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby CAN » 18 Apr 2018, 17:33

There are beautiful sounds and tunes there that I wish they hadn't developed, added to.

I'd love three minutes of the intro to 'Love Is Here...'. Once DR comes in, it's all over.
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Re: BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby Goat Boy » 18 Apr 2018, 21:02

I love Diana's voice on those records. She's like the female Smokey Robinson (or should that be he is the male DR?).

She had an exquisite vulnerability but also a stoic dignity. Like one of those movies where somebody's heart is breaking but the acting is downplayed to the point where the smallest gestures become magnified and all together more moving exactly because of the lack of melodrama. You can see the conflict within you know, the emotional heartbreak but also the desire to save face and ultimately carry on. I get that feeling from some of their greatest records anyway (Stop In The Name of Love, You Keep Me Hanging On) and that's what Diana brings to the party for me.

At their best they were unimpeachable.
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Re: BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby sloopjohnc » 18 Apr 2018, 21:14

Besides the blue cover greatest hits, this is a very worthy collection. It's a British import (for us)

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Re: BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby the gorton gollum » 18 Apr 2018, 22:09

Goat Boy wrote:I love Diana's voice on those records. She's like the female Smokey Robinson (or should that be he is the male DR?).

She had an exquisite vulnerability but also a stoic dignity. Like one of those movies where somebody's heart is breaking but the acting is downplayed to the point where the smallest gestures become magnified and all together more moving exactly because of the lack of melodrama. You can see the conflict within you know, the emotional heartbreak but also the desire to save face and ultimately carry on. I get that feeling from some of their greatest records anyway (Stop In The Name of Love, You Keep Me Hanging On) and that's what Diana brings to the party for me.

At their best they were unimpeachable.


Nice one cunt.

I’m not sure we’re allowed to like Diana, too inauthentic or some such shite. The Supremes remain Peak Pop.
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Re: BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby Ranking Ted » 18 Apr 2018, 22:13

Bent Fabric wrote:I absolutely believe in the Diana Ross era Supremes. Her "posh" diction/timbre is often held up as a totem of Motown's "upmarket failings", but...I love those records dearly (however dark the story behind them).



Such an incredible record - the theremin, the Wurlitzer electric piano, the tambourine, the changes...cod-psych, for sure, and all the better for it.



Another unusual track - HDH seemed to be on some heavy shit around this time. The spoken word bits are almost comical, but...I love them.



Their masterpiece?

Absolutely amazing tracks, these. Reflections is a startlingly weird record, isn’t it? All those burbles, glitches and whoops undercutting the pop soul psych.

They’re a marvel, really, Diana and post-Diana. I love these later ones as well:




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Re: BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby CAN » 18 Apr 2018, 22:44

'Stoned Love' is awesome.
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Re: BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby Mike Boom » 18 Apr 2018, 22:46


One that often flies under the radar

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Re: BCB 130 - The Supremes

Postby fange » 19 Apr 2018, 03:20

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